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Does President Obama Really Support an ‘All-of-the-Above’ Energy Strategy?

Testimony Before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

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SOURCE: Center for American Progress Action Fund

Download the full testimony (pdf)

Chairman Issa, Ranking Member Cummings, and members of the committee, thank you very much for the opportunity to testify today.

I am Daniel J. Weiss, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a tax-exempt organization dedicated to progressive values and ideas.

The question posed for this hearing is, “Does President Obama really support an ‘all of the above’ energy strategy?”

What is an “all of the above” energy strategy? To most Americans, it means we must do three things:

  • Develop the energy resources of today while using them more efficiently.
  • Invest in the new, cleaner technologies of tomorrow.
  • Reduce the public health threat from pollution generated by producing and burning coal, oil, and natural gas.

We just heard all the rhetoric. Let’s review the Obama record on the “all of the above” energy strategy checklist.

Oil production?

  • U.S. oil production is at its highest since 1998.
  • The Energy Information Administration demonstrated that annual oil production from federal lands and waters was higher under the first three years of President Obama than under the last three years of his predecessor.

Oil imports and use?

  • In 2011 the United States imported only 45 percent of its oil—the lowest rate since 1997.
  • When the modernization of fuel economy standards is complete in 2025, we will use 2 million fewer barrels of oil per day, and drivers will save $8,000 per car in lower gasoline purchases.

Eliminate Big Oil tax breaks?

  • The president supported ending $40 billion in tax breaks for Big Oil companies, particularly when the five biggest companies made $137 billion in profits last year.

Nuclear power?

  • The first two new nuclear reactors in a generation were approved in February 2012 for Plant Vogtle in Waynesboro, Georgia.

Coal employment?

  • The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration reports that there were more coal miners employed in the United States in 2011 than in any year since 1997.

Clean energy investments and jobs?

  • In 2011, “U.S. clean energy investment moved back ahead of China for the first time since 2008,” according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
  • The non-hydro renewable electricity generation will nearly double between 2008 to 2012, based on EIA data.
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently determined that, “In 2010, 3.1 million jobs in the United States were associated with the production of green goods and services.”

Protect public health from pollution?

  • The Cross State Air Pollution Rule and Mercury Air Toxic Standards will reduce smog, acid rain, mercury, and cancer-causing pollution from power plants.
  • These rules will protect children, seniors, and the infirm from air pollution. They will save up to 45,000 lives annually, and prevent hundreds of thousands of asthma attacks and hospitalizations.

The record demonstrates that President Obama passes the “all of the above” test.

What about the House of Representatives? We know it supports expanded oil and gas production. What about other essential elements of “all of the above”?

Clean energy investments and jobs?

  • The House-passed FY 2013 budget would slash investments in clean energy technologies. According to the Office of Management and Budget, “Clean energy programs would be cut by 19 percent.”
  • The House has not extended the production tax credit for wind and other renewable energy sources even though it expires at the end of 2012. A bipartisan extension bill has languished since last November.

Protect public health from pollution?

  • Last year the House held 209 votes to weaken public health safeguards or environmental protections, including efforts to “block EPA regulation of toxic mercury and other harmful emissions from power plants.”

Eliminate Big Oil tax breaks?

  • The House budget would keep $40 billion in tax breaks for large oil companies.

President Obama has successfully pursued an “all of the above” energy strategy by increasing oil production, reducing imports and use, and protecting public health from pollution.

The House of Representatives has ignored oil use reductions, slashed investments for new clean energy technologies, and would eviscerate public health protection from hazardous pollutants. This is an “oil above all” strategy that would benefit big oil companies at the expense of everyone else.

Hopefully, the House of Representatives will join President Obama in supporting “an all of the above” energy strategy.

Daniel J. Weiss is a Senior Fellow and Director of Climate Strategy at American Progress.

Download the full testimony (pdf)

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