This past Tuesday President Obama gave his 2012 State of the Union Address. President Obama’s speech was split into three major topics: the economy, education, and energy in the United States. His ideas on energy can specifically be broken down into his political goals for oil, natural gas, and renewable energies.
According to the ideas expressed in his speech, Obama is looking to move away from oil consumption in the nation. His motivation for this view is that America has “only 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves” so, “oil isn’t enough” . His plan to move away from gas is as follows: “We have subsidized oil companies for a century. That’s long enough. It’s time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that’s rarely been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that’s never been more promising” . The problem with this idea is that in the U.S. oil only accounts for 1% of energy used for electricity . The oil America buys is mostly consumed in transportation. Therefore, a shift from one form of energy to another is probably not the solution to U.S. oil dependency. Rather, it may be more appropriate for President Obama to call for incentives for low-oil consuming transportation manufacture and consumption. To his credit, later in his speech President Obama speaks about the importance of American innovation such as the computer chip and the internet and the need to continue this innovation .
President Obama also had much to say on natural gas. First he commented on this as a possibility for America’s next major fuel source as it is a resource we have vast reserves of. “We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly one hundred years, and my Administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy  .” According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration current estimates of natural gas inventories is 3,098 billion cubic feet . Obama also said, “The development of natural gas will create jobs and power trucks and factories that are cleaner and cheaper, proving that we don’t have to choose between our environment and our economy .” This presumes that he hopes natural gas will take over coal as the primary energy source for electricity. Coal currently accounts as about 50% of the total electric energy source . As President Obama said, natural gas would be a much cleaner energy source. However, the U.S. is also a major producer of coal. It is possible that a move to natural gas will only be moving jobs rather than creating them.
President Obama’s energy ideals are promising and it seems that he has hopes of energy consumption in the U.S. moving away from oil and toward natural gas. This appears to be the natural trend occurring in the world and the U.S. already . However, while this hope for cleaner energy is refreshing, Obama has been criticized of having a history of optimistic over-reaching speeches with little action or results. In the Energy arena, lots of talk and not much action has been the staple for many of the past Presidents. It appears only time will tell if we see any tangible energy policy changes based on this address.
 Dr. Michael E. Webber Energy, Technology and Policy Lecture Slides