Obama defends clean power, embraces offshore oil

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On one hand, it looks like the ghost of Solyndra didn’t scare away President Obama from addressing government support for solar technology and clean power in the State of the Union address on Tuesday night. Obama said he won’t walk away from clean power, despite acknowledging that some technologies don’t pan out and some companies fail.

Obama reminded viewers that the recent boom in cheap natural gas came from decades of government funding into natural gas drilling research. He also said that the Department of Defense and the Navy will make one of the largest commitments to clean power in history, and he will allow the development of clean energy on enough public land to power three million homes.

Because of federal investments, renewable energy use has nearly doubled. And thousands of Americans have jobs because of it. . . . I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China or Germany because we refuse to make the same commitment here.

But President Obama also fully embraced an investment in all forms of American energy including fossil fuels and offshore oil drilling, and in what will definitely be a controversial move, he said he wants to “open more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources.” Twitter lit up on that line.

The notion of growing all types of domestic energy was a rehash of his State of the Union last year where he called for “80 percent of America’s electricity to come from clean energy sources,” by 2035. In that definition, however, clean energy sources included natural gas, nuclear and clean coal.

Obama also tried to calm any fears of environmental damage from fracking for natural gas — spraying chemicals and water deep into the ground to break up rock. He said: “I’m requiring all companies that drill for gas on public lands to disclose the chemicals they use. America will develop this resource without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk.”

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