On January 24, 2012, President Obama proposed several new initiatives to develop American-made energy in his State of the Union address. The initiatives included:
- Opening more than 75% of America’s potential offshore oil and gas resources;
- Requiring companies that drill for gas on public lands to disclose the chemicals used;
- Promoting clean-energy tax credits;
- Allowing the development of clean energy on public lands;
- Announcing the U.S. Navy will purchase enough clean energy capacity to power a quarter million homes (1 GW); and
- Proposing that Congress pass a bill to promote energy efficiency in manufacturing facilities.
President Obama also directed the Department of the Interior (“DOI”) to develop 3,500 MW of renewable projects on public lands this year. DOI has stated that this increase in 2012-approved projects would mean that it would meet the Energy Policy Act of 2005’s mandate to site 10 GW of non-hydroelectric renewable energy projects by December 31, 2015. DOI also recently announced plans for a natural gas lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico. The sale is expected to take place on June 20, 2012 and will include approximately 7,250 unleased blocks that span nearly 38 million acres. Federal estimates speculate the region contains 31 billion barrels of oil and 134 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Obama’s address renewed his request for Congress to pass a “clean energy standard” that would require electric utilities to obtain 80 percent of their power from natural gas, nuclear and renewable sources by 2035 and a permanent extension of a federal production tax credit for wind power. The current wind energy tax credit is set to expire on December 31, 2012. The American Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit Extension Act has been introduced and proposes to grant a four year extension to the wind energy tax credit. Obama made reference to the Solyndra bankruptcy stating “some technologies don’t pan out; some companies fail.” (See September 23, 2011 edition of the WER).