Obama Makes Federal Clean Energy Commitments (Again)

With US gas prices returning to the previous shock levels–Summer of 2008–President Obama responded to the pressure with a speech today at Georgetown University, just a few miles west of the White House. The Energy Department reports that prices at the pump are up 15% for the year since February 7, which is undoubtedly causing some frictions in a rebuilding economy.

Some of us in the clean energy camp are resigned to the premise that a rising threshold of gasoline prices may be an unfortunate, yet mandatory condition for robust energy policy reform. And while the president will have to get reelected to even consider bringing an energy/climate bill back to Congress, today’s speech provides a glimpse of how such a bill could be written.

Here are the salient energy reform commitments the President made today:

  • The US will reduce a third of its overall oil imports by 2025: The president believes one half of this can be achieved by decreasing consumption and the other half coming from increasing domestic production.
  • As was teased in The State of the Union, Obama proposed the US commit to sourcing 80% of its electricity from clean energy sources by 2035: The administration currently defines clean energy as nuclear power (some in Japan may disagree), natural gas, clean coal, as well as renewables like wind and solar.
  • Finally, and while this will have a relatively nominal impact on our national carbon emissions, the federal government will purchase 100% alternative fuel vehicles by 2015: The government will buy only hybrid and electric cars, as well as those that can run on a mix of ethanol and gasoline.

Image credit by SkyTruth via Flickr under a CC license

Written by Lane Jost

A lifelong conservationist, angler, gardener and writer, Lane is a Corporate Responsibility strategy consultant based in Chicago, where he currently works a CR consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

Prior to joining PwC, Lane was a global sustainability performance and stakeholder engagement specialist for Sodexo North America. He has experience in microfinance program evaluation at Grameen Foundation. A former President of the Net Impact Chapter at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), Lane has a master's in International Development Economics from the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at UCSD (IR/PS) and a bachelor's in history and international studies from Kenyon College. Prior to working in the sustainable business sphere, Lane spent six years as a communications and marketing professional focusing on arts and culture in New York City, where his work included the creation of the jazz website and serving as the publicist for the New York Philharmonic.


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