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Obama Backs Oil And Gas Development, Reaffirms Clean Energy Agenda

Obama with speech writer

Obama has now shifted into campaign mode only a few days after delivering his State of the Union Address – an address that reaffirmed his commitment to environmental issues while simultaneously calling for expanded development of all forms of energy.

While the two messages may seem contradictory at first, a closer look reveals that they are in fact part of an overall strategy that may be Obama’s key in pulling off a victory in the forthcoming election.

After all, Obama has come under fire from environmentalists for his lack of action on environmental issues throughout his term. And since it was the green vote that was partially responsible for his election victory in the first place, it would make sense for him to add a “green tint” to his current political campaign.

His attempts to patch up relations with the environmental movement came late in his term. He finally denied the application for the Keystone XL pipeline after widespread protest from environmentalists. He was unsuccessful in enlisting political support for a cap on greenhouse gas emissions but did manage to roll out regulations on auto fuel efficiency standards and mercury pollution.

In response to past criticism over the bankruptcy of Solyndra after receiving a $535 million federal loan guarantee, Obama stated: “Because of federal investments, renewable energy use has nearly doubled. And thousands of Americans have jobs because of it. . . . I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China or Germany because we refuse to make the same commitment here.”

He therefore claims that his commitment to renewable energy and clean technology will remain strong. But notice that he links commitment not to an environmental agenda, but to job creation and economic growth, thus turning it into a business/economic issue rather than an environmental one. This strategy of linking environmental issues to economic growth is an effective one, and one which could make his policies more appealing to the average American.

Perhaps to make his policies even more appealing (though less appealing to environmentalists), Obama announced his support for the development of 75% of all US offshore oil and gas deposits. He also stated his support for shale gas drilling (fracking) under the condition companies would disclose chemicals used in the fracking process, to ensure the process would not be “putting the health and safety of [America’s] citizens at risk.”

However, time will tell whether or not he actually follows through with any of his assertions. After all, many progressive voters still feel jaded from Obama’s term in office so far – especially since he had been elected amidst so much fanfare and anticipation.

What are your thoughts on Obama’s strategy so far? Do you think it will result in more or less support for Obama in the coming election?


Image: President Barack Obama talks with Jon Favreau, Director of Speechwriting, in the Oval Office, Jan. 23, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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