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Immigration, Energy, Trade in State of the Union

January 24, 2012
By: Sara Schafer, Farm Journal Media Business and Crops Editor
Obama
President Barack Obama speaking at a town hall meeting at Wyffels Hybrids in mid-August.  

Below are some of the agricultural highlights delivered by President Barack Obama during his State of the Union Address on Jan. 24 in Washington, DC.

See Obama's "Blueprint For An America Built to Last" plan.

Energy

Nowhere is the promise of innovation greater than in American-made energy.  Over the last three years, we’ve opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration, and tonight, I’m directing my Administration to open more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources.  Right now, American oil production is the highest that it’s been in eight years.  That’s right – eight years.  Not only that – last year, we relied less on foreign oil than in any of the past sixteen years.

 

But with only 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves, oil isn’t enough.  This country needs an all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy – a strategy that’s cleaner, cheaper, and full of new jobs. 

We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly one hundred years, and my Administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy.  Experts believe this will support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade.  And 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.

The development of natural gas will create jobs and power trucks and factories that are cleaner and cheaper, proving that we don’t have to choose between our environment and our economy.  And by the way, it was public research dollars, over the course of thirty years, that helped develop the technologies to extract all this natural gas out of shale rock – reminding us that Government support is critical in helping businesses get new energy ideas off the ground.         

What’s true for natural gas is true for clean energy.  In three years, our partnership with the private sector has already positioned America to be the world’s leading manufacturer of high-tech batteries.  Because of federal investments, renewable energy use has nearly doubled.  And thousands of Americans have jobs because of it. 

When Bryan Ritterby was laid off from his job making furniture, he said he worried that at 55, no one would give him a second chance.  But he found work at Energetx, a wind turbine manufacturer in Michigan.  Before the recession, the factory only made luxury yachts.  Today, it’s hiring workers like Bryan, who said, "I’m proud to be working in the industry of the future."

 

Our experience with shale gas shows us that the payoffs on these public investments don’t always come right away.  Some technologies don’t pan out; some companies fail.  But I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy.  I will not walk away from workers like Bryan.  I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China or Germany because we refuse to make the same commitment here.  We have subsidized oil companies for a century.  That’s long enough.  It’s time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that’s rarely been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that’s never been more promising.   Pass clean energy tax credits and create these jobs.   

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