Creating a cleaner environment has its costs and President Obama said in his State of the Union speech Tuesday that he hopes oil companies can help foot the bill.
In advancing his recurring theme of the need for American innovation, the president will push for the expansion of the use of biofuels. "We need to get behind this innovation," the president said. "And to help pay for it, I'm asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. I don't know if you've noticed, but they're doing just fine on their own," he quipped.
Mr. Obama and Republican leaders alike have discouraged American dependence on foreign sources of oil, but the president has had a fluctuating position on off-shore oil drilling. His stance was complicated by last year's BP oil spill. In the end, the president settled on a path of restraint, much to the chagrin of many lawmakers and industry leaders.
American Petroleum Institute President and CEO Jack Gerard has already weighed in on the State of the Union speech, saying the president's remarks were a missed opportunity. "The president focused on job growth through federal spending, but was silent on one of the best ways to create jobs: allow more energy development. Natural gas and renewables are important components of our energy mix, but we will need our nation's vast oil resources for decades to come."
Referring to oil as "yesterday's energy" the president laid out a change of course. "With more research and incentives, we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels, and become the first country to have a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015," he said.
The goal is more than an cleaner environment. The president has long pushed green jobs as a way of dealing with the perpetual issue of job creation. "Now, clean energy breakthroughs will only translate into clean energy jobs if businesses know there will be a market for what they're selling," Obama said.
"So tonight, I challenge you to join me in setting a new goal: by 2035, 80% of America's electricity will come from clean energy sources. Some folks want wind and solar. Others want nuclear, clean coal, and natural gas. To meet this goal, we will need them all - and I urge Democrats and Republicans to work together to make it happen."
While House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, refrained from applauding the oil remark, he offered tepid applause on the president's thoughts on clean energy.