2014 State of the Union Resources

In his fifth State of the Union address, President Barack Obama again put the issue of climate change before Congress and the American public, and reaffirmed his determination to use the powers of the presidency to strengthen America’s response.

  • Read our views on the State of the Climate.
  • Read Eileen Claussen's statement on the president's 2014 State of the Union address.
  • Read Manik Roy's blog post, exploring three key statemenst from the president's address.

From President Obama's remarks, as delivered:

Now, one of the biggest factors in bringing more jobs back is our commitment to American energy. The all-of-the-above energy strategy I announced a few years ago is working, and today, America is closer to energy independence than we’ve been in decades.

One of the reasons why is natural gas – if extracted safely, it’s the bridge fuel that can power our economy with less of the carbon pollution that causes climate change. Businesses plan to invest almost $100 billion in new factories that use natural gas. I’ll cut red tape to help states get those factories built, and this Congress can help by putting people to work building fueling stations that shift more cars and trucks from foreign oil to American natural gas. My administration will keep working with the industry to sustain production and job growth while strengthening protection of our air, our water, and our communities. And while we’re at it, I’ll use my authority to protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations.

It’s not just oil and natural gas production that’s booming; we’re becoming a global leader in solar, too. Every four minutes, another American home or business goes solar; every panel pounded into place by a worker whose job can’t be outsourced. Let’s continue that progress with a smarter tax policy that stops giving $4 billion a year to fossil fuel industries that don’t need it, so that we can invest more in fuels of the future that do.

And even as we’ve increased energy production, we’ve partnered with businesses, builders, and local communities to reduce the energy we consume. When we rescued our automakers, for example, we worked with them to set higher fuel efficiency standards for our cars. In the coming months, I’ll build on that success by setting new standards for our trucks, so we can keep driving down oil imports and what we pay at the pump.

Taken together, our energy policy is creating jobs and leading to a cleaner, safer planet. Over the past eight years, the United States has reduced our total carbon pollution more than any other nation on Earth. But we have to act with more urgency – because a changing climate is already harming western communities struggling with drought, and coastal cities dealing with floods. That’s why I directed my administration to work with states, utilities, and others to set new standards on the amount of carbon pollution our power plants are allowed to dump into the air. The shift to a cleaner energy economy won’t happen overnight, and it will require tough choices along the way. But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did.

C2ES has assembled a list of resources on federal climate and energy issues.

Climate Change Science

The draft National Climate Assessment (NCA) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Working Group 1 report, both released in 2013, affirm previous scientific findings that human-induced climate change is underway and that avoiding the worst consequences will require significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

For more information, see:

Extreme Weather

A single weather event says nothing about climate change. But weather patterns are shifting as the planet warms. Average global temperatures are higher than they were 30, 50, or 100 years ago. Climate scientists tell us to expect more frequent and intense heat waves, more severe droughts in some regions, more expansive wildfires, and more intense downpours.

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Regulation of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed standards for carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new power plants and is working on rules for existing power plants, which are responsible for 40 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions.

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Climate Resilience

As part of the Climate Action Plan, federal agencies are supporting local investments in climate resilience and have convened a task force of state, local and tribal officials to advise on key actions the federal government can take to help strengthen communities against future extreme weather and other climate impacts.

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Vehicle Fuel Economy and Greenhouse Gas Standards

New standards will nearly double the fuel economy of new cars and light trucks by 2025, while lowering their carbon emissions by 40 percent. These measures represent the largest federal step ever aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. EPA has started technical work on fuel economy standards for heavy-duty vehicles starting in model year 2018.

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Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is the second-fastest growing energy source behind natural gas. For 2012, renewable energy was responsible for 12.2 percent of net U.S. electricity generation with hydroelectric generation contributing 6.8 percent and wind generation responsible for 3.5 percent.

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Natural Gas

New drilling technologies such as hydraulic fracturing (sometimes called fracking) have vastly increased the amount of recoverable natural gas in the United States and elsewhere. These advances are projected to significantly alter energy economics and trends, and open new opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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Coal

While some power plants are switching to natural gas, coal remains a major source of energy for U.S. electricity generation. Coal has the highest carbon content of all fossil fuels, and coal accounts for about 40 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon capture-and-storage technologies offer the potential to sequester emissions from coal combustion.

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Clean Energy Support

All sources of energy – fossil fuels, nuclear power, and renewable energy – receive some form of federal support, whether as a grant, loan, loan guarantee or tax credit, and whether for research, development, demonstration or deployment. Nuclear, hydro, wind, biomass, geothermal and solar produce zero greenhouse gas emissions.

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Reducing Dependence on Foreign Oil

Net imports of oil peaked in 2005, and since then have declined from 60 percent to about 40 percent of total U.S. consumption. Contributing factors include reduced consumption due to vehicle fuel economy standards and renewable fuels, and increased domestic production.

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Energy Efficiency

Increasing energy efficiency can save consumers money, reduce energy consumption and reduce greenhouse emissions. The president’s Climate Action Plan sets a goal of doubling energy productivity by 2030 relative to 2010 levels.

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Leading by Example

In his climate plan, the president set a goal for the federal government to consume 20 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020—more than double the current goal of 7.5 percent.

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International Climate Change Leadership

Climate change is a global challenge that requires a global solution. An effective strategy will require commitments and actions by all the major emitters. In addition to working toward a 2015 international climate agreement, the president has called for multilateral and bilateral efforts with China, India and other emitting countries.

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