President's Energy Plan: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Bright spots for energy efficiency, but oil and gas incentives signal outdated approach


Kathleen Sutcliffe, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500, ext. 235

The following is a statement from Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen on President Obama’s energy address today.

“It is vitally important to our national security, our economy, and the earth we leave to our children that we become self-sufficient in addressing our energy needs and end our dependence on oil. We need a partnership between government and business to harness our most extraordinary natural resource—American ingenuity—to develop clean, alternative sources of energy like wind, solar, hydrogen, and biofuels. The best way to reduce our dependence on oil is to make cars go farther on a gallon of gas and to invest in clean, renewable forms of energy.

“The president’s plan outlines some important steps toward that goal. But some elements of the plan are flawed and signal a lingering attachment to outdated ways of thinking.

“For one, offshore oil drilling in America’s Arctic Ocean is simply a bad idea. Harsh conditions, remote locations and ineffective cleanup plans mean that a spill in these waters would be catastrophic for wildlife and the local Native communities who rely on them. The lack of scientific data on the Arctic Ocean and the impacts that an oil spill would have in this region should be a strong signal to the Obama administration to proceed cautiously and skeptically on any plans to drill in these waters.

“And before we talk about boosting domestic gas drilling, we need to require companies to take responsibility for their actions by closing the loopholes that allow them to pump secret chemicals into the earth, threatening drinking water supplies for millions of Americans.

“Incentives the president is proposing for the oil and gas industry would be better spent on truly clean sources of energy like wind and solar—not risky technologies that have the potential to devastate our oceans and pollute our drinking water.

“Just like with an old clunker, at a certain point we need to stop throwing good money after bad. We’re not going to win the future by investing in old sources of energy but by applying our best efforts at a truly clean and renewable energy economy.”

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