In his State of the Union Address on January 28, 2014, President Obama stated his commitment to American energy and to America’s energy independence through “the all-of-the-above energy strategy” that he announced several years ago. He pointed to natural gas which, “if extracted safely, [is] the bridge fuel that can power our economy with less of the carbon pollution that causes climate change.”
According to the President, his administration “will keep working with the industry to sustain production and job growth while strengthening protection of our air, our water, and our communities.” The President indicated that he would use his “authority to protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations.”
In The State of the Union Fact Sheet: Opportunity for All, The White House presented additional proposals for energy , economic growth, and environmental conservation. According to the Fact Sheet, the Administration “is taking steps to make [natural gas] production safer,” to develop “new environmental standards for oil and gas drilling on public lands,” and to continue investing in research “to ensure safe and responsible natural gas production.” In addition, the “President is calling on Congress to work with the Administration and State and local governments to create Sustainable Shale Gas Growth Zones, helping regions come together to make sure shale gas is developed in a safe, responsible way that helps build diverse and resilient regional economics that can withstand boom-and-bust cycles and can be leaders in building and deploying clean energy technologies.”
The Address received mixed reviews, with many politicians decrying the President’s focus on using executive powers to go around Congress, objecting to the end of oil and gas tax incentives, and faulting a decision to open up more the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling. A representative of the Sierra Club stated that “the sum total of the President’s commitments fall short of what American families need to ensure a safe, healthy planet for our children.” In particular, these environmentalists see the development of natural gas as “a bridge to nowhere” and the all-of-the-above energy policy a failure. On the other hand, oil and gas companies heard the President’s support for natural gas as an implicit commitment to hydraulic fracturing (even though that process was never mentioned during the speech).