SOTU: Myth of the ‘all-of-the-above’ energy policy

SOTU 2014

SALEM Ore., January 30, 2014—Highlighted early in the State of the Union Address, even before talking about immigration reform, President Obama summarized his energy policy achievements by declaring, “The all-of-the-above energy strategy I announced a few years ago is working”.

Really, Mr. President?  What ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy? What, exactly, is working?

President Obama credited the all-of-the-above energy policy with these accomplishments:

  • “We’ve increased energy production”
  • “America is closer to energy independence than we’ve been in decades”
  • “Over the past eight years, the United States has reduced our total carbon pollution more than any other nation on Earth”
  • “Our energy policy is creating jobs”

It’s true. Energy production is way up. We’ve achieved energy independence and CO2 emissions are down 12 percent from 2007 levels. Energy jobs are being created in droves.

The reason is simple. Refined fracking and horizontal drilling technologies can now extract oil and natural gas from formerly inaccessible shale deposits. Starting in 2006, oil and gas production began going up for the first time in decades. The upward trend, especially for natural gas, will continue for decades.

More drilling has created tens of thousands of jobs in energy-producing states. Tax-subsidized green energy jobs are much fewer and further between.

Greenhouse gas emissions are down largely because coal-fired electric power plants are being replaced with abundant, clean burning natural gas plants at lower cost to consumers.

Bucking the energy trend, the President’s all-of-the-above energy policy has cut production of all fossil fuels on federal lands while opening them up to wind and solar. Natural gas, up the most everywhere else, has been cut the most—a whopping 23 percent—on federal lands since President Obama took office.


During the President’s remarks he said, “natural gas–if extracted safely, it’s the bridge fuel that can power our economy”. Reducing sales by 23 percent where he has direct control is at odds with the President’s words.

The “extracted safely” comment is meaningful because the President signed Executive Order 13605 that specifically restricts and regulates drilling for natural gas using “unconventional’ methods (fracking).  The President is actively trying to stop the natural gas revolution!

The President wields the EPA like a club to restrict the use of both natural gas and coal for generating electricity. At present, coal and natural gas supply 68 percent of electricity used in the United States. The President naively thinks wind and solar, bit players in the energy scene at 3.6 percent in 2012, can substantially take over that load.

Under new EPA greenhouse gas restrictions it’s likely coal will be priced out of the market, just like candidate Barack Obama promised he’d do years ago.

It’s noteworthy that, under proposed EPA regulations, natural gas-fired electric power plants are under even tighter emission restrictions than coal. Why? That, too, is at odds with an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy policy, especially given it will actually slow reductions in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by slowing adoption of natural gas plants.

During his speech, the President mentioned businesses plan to invest $100 billion in new factories that use natural gas. He said he’d “cut red tape” to help build those factories. President Obama’s energy promises, though, don’t always match up well with his deeds.

Here are President Obama’s main energy related policy documents:

Those do not include the litany of EPA regulations and restrictions on fossil fuel use. Fossil fuels supply 80 percent of all energy in the United States today. The U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasts fossils will still supply 80 percent of all energy in the year 2040.

Unless you define “all-of-the-above” to mean allowing limited use of natural gas in a couple of places where there isn’t a renewable alternative, then you will not find a lick of “all-of-the-above” in President Obama’s energy policy.

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