What's ahead for energy and environment issues in the wake of President Obama's State of the Union address last week?
Obama's speech paid significant attention to energy and environmental protection. "This country needs an all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy," he said. Here's a brief rundown:
The president touted vast domestic reserves of shale natural gas and said his administration would work to develop the plentiful energy safely and promote its use. He said he would direct the Interior Department to tap into more than 75 percent of the country's offshore oil and gas resources (referring to an Interior plan already announced).
Obama reiterated his call for Congress to pass a clean-energy standard, a proposal that Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., plans to introduce within weeks. Amid political attacks over Solyndra, the solar manufacturer that defaulted on its $535 million federal loan guarantee, Obama doubled down and said America could not concede the clean-energy race to China. Three major energy sources did go unmentioned, though: coal, which accounts for nearly 50 percent of the nation's electricity; nuclear, which accounts for 20 percent of the country's electricity; and biofuels, which the president has traditionally touted in most major speeches that touch on energy.
He mentioned climate change only in passing when noting that Congress probably wouldn't be able to pass legislation tackling the global problem. He didn't mention the Environmental Protection Agency by name but stood by EPA's mercury power plant standards, saying he "will not back down from protecting our kids from mercury pollution."
With so much rhetoric devoted to energy and environment issues, how could these goals and ambitions the president laid out translate into action? Will they move the needle on major issues facing the nation, such as its dependence on foreign oil and rising levels of greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change? What should Congress do to assist--or resist--the plans Obama laid out last week?