Amidst his discussion of jobs, the economy, gun control, education, poverty, budget woes and foreign policy, President Barack Obama spent a few minutes on environmental issues in his State of the Union address.
He made a point to support increases in domestic production of oil and gas while also calling for action on climate change and investment in energy efficiency and technology that will get cars and trucks off oil.
He championed energy independence, with an "all of the above" approach to energy policy – including cutting red tape on oil and gas permits and spending some of the revenues from those permits on research and technology that will "get our cars and trucks off oil for good."
He praised the fact that the U.S. produces more oil than it has in 15 years, and more natural gas "than ever before," as well as the fact that the U.S. has also doubled its production of renewable energy such as wind and solar power.
Obama took credit for lower carbon emissions in the U.S. over the past four years, "but for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change," he said, noting that the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15 years.
He went on to urge Congress to pass a "bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change"
"But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will," he said.
"I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy."
He also called out some of the extreme weather events that have raised concerns about the impacts of climate change going forward:
"Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods – all are now more frequent and intense," he said. "We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science – and act before it’s too late."
Obama set a new goal for energy efficiency in the U.S.: "Let’s cut in half the energy wasted by our homes and businesses over the next twenty years."
He offered "federal support" to the states with the best ideas "to create jobs and lower energy bills by constructing more efficient buildings."
What did you think of his take on environmental issues? Anything you wanted to hear that he didn't say?