To the surprise of many (or us, at least), clean energy was a primary focus of President Obama's State of the Union Address on Tuesday. The President spent the first third of the speech on the issue, and laid out an ambitious goal by saying that 80 percent of electricity should come from clean energy sources by 2035.
"[T]he nation that leads the clean energy economy will lead the global economy...and America must be that nation," Obama said.
But the pronouncement comes with an asterisk, since for Obama the definition of clean energy includes nuclear, natural gas, and clean coal. And, as Bryan Walsh notes in TIME, the pledge covers electricity and not transportation, which devours more oil and emits more CO2 than anything else.
Notably absent within the clean energy talk were the words "climate change," as the President attempted to build on points of agreement rather than contention. Smart politics, but the avoidance of the climate issue -- and any talk of cap-and-trade legislation -- was a gap that disappointed some observers, such as Andy Revkin.
Obama also discussed the elimination of oil (but not coal) subsidies.
"We need to get behind this innovation. And to help pay for it, I'm asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. I don't know if you've noticed, but they're doing just fine on their own. So instead of subsidizing yesterday's energy, let's invest in tomorrow's."
It's about time.
Photo: White House