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Obama stands by energy initiatives amid GOP criticism

 

President Obama refused to back off his support for clean energy initiatives in his State of the Union address, pushing back against some of Republicans' fiercest policy criticisms of his administration.

Obama called for an "all-of-the-above" energy strategy in the speech, promoting the work his administration has done to ease exploration of oil and natural gas. But he doubled down on new incentives for clean energy research and employment amid Republican criticism over the past year on the administration's approach to those initiatives.

The president calls opportunity for all the "defining issue of our time" in his State of the Union Address.

"I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China or Germany because we refuse to make the same commitment here. We have subsidized oil companies for a century. That’s long enough," Obama said. "It’s time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that’s rarely been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that’s never been more promising. Pass clean energy tax credits and create these jobs."

That section of the speech seems intended to address some of the most withering criticism from Republicans, who have launched an investigation into whether the administration expedited clean energy loans to Solyndra, the now-defunct clean energy company backed in part by a major Democratic donor.

Moreover, Republicans have loudly criticized the administration's decision to reject an application to build a major transnational oil pipeline between the U.S. and Canada. Republicans said the pipeline was poised to create thousands of jobs.

Obama also took steps to address climate change, decrying Congress for failing to take charge in the battle against global warming. (The Democratic-held House passed a cap-and-trade bill in 2009, but it failed in the Senate despite Democrats' additional control of that chamber.)

"The differences in this chamber may be too deep right now to pass a comprehensive plan to fight climate change. But there’s no reason why Congress shouldn’t at least set a clean energy standard that creates a market for innovation.  So far, you haven’t acted," Obama said. "Well tonight, I will.  I’m directing my Administration to allow the development of clean energy on enough public land to power three million homes. And I’m proud to announce that the Department of Defense, the world’s largest consumer of energy, will make one of the largest commitments to clean energy in history –- with the Navy purchasing enough capacity to power a quarter of a million homes a year."