White House declares success on energy blueprint - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

White House declares success on energy blueprint

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President Barack Obama is declaring victory as he marks the one-year anniversary of his energy plan for America.

Obama introduced America to his energy plan, Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future, a year ago. Monday, the president was given a one-year progress update on his "all-of-the-above" energy strategy.

The progress report, coming from six federal agencies, highlighted a number of successes of the program. Coal is not mentioned at all in the news release from the White House, but clean technology funding is mentioned in the one-year progress report.

"Today, approximately 80 percent of the energy consumed in the United States comes from coal, petroleum, and natural gas, with coal-fired power plants accounting for approximately half of the electricity generated," the report states. "The implementation of clean, state-of-the-art coal-based technologies will help ensure America's energy security while mitigating the environmental impacts of fossil fuel use."

The report's highlights include advances toward increasing American energy independence, expanding domestic oil and gas production, increases fuel economy standards, improved energy efficiency, increased renewable energy generation, development of new fuels and support for "cutting edge research."

Investment in clean energy, the report states, has doubled the amount of renewable energy generated in the United States while domestic natural gas and oil production have continued to increase each year Obama has been in office.

"The progress report I received today from members of my administration underscores the headway our nation has made towards reducing our reliance on foreign oil, while also expanding American made energy," Obama said in a prepared statement. "As the report highlights, we have made progress, with imports of foreign oil decreasing by a million barrels a day in the last year alone." 

When most Americans start talking about energy and politics, the inevitable conversation about gasoline prices is bound to come up. In writing their report, the heads of six agencies, including the Department of Energy, Department of Transportation, Department of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency, acknowledged prices that are quickly approaching $5 a gallon.

"Just like last year, gas prices are climbing across the country – except this time, even earlier," the agencies heads wrote in a cover letter to the report. "We know that there are no quick fixes to this challenge. That is why we continue to focus on an all-of-the-above energy approach that builds on the progress we've made over the past three years and makes America more energy secure in the years ahead."

The one-year progress report also cites the need for a Clean Energy Standard that would require 80 percent of electricity in the U.S. to come from "a wide variety of clean energy sources, including renewable energy sources like wind, solar, biomass, and hydropower; nuclear power; efficient natural gas; and coal with carbon capture utilization and sequestration."

"While a CES will ultimately require Congressional legislation, the FY 2013 Budget advances this goal by increasing funding for renewable energy research and development, spurring advances in fossil energy technologies that reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants, supporting nuclear energy, and promoting the expansion and use of clean energy across the country, including in rural areas," the report states.

A CES was recently introduced in Congress, but due to its late introduction, it may struggle to pass through the legislative process in this session.

The report largely congratulates the administration for advancements in both energy and environmental issues related to energy development. Though the EPA was involved in the creation of the report, it does not mention recent EPA victories on establishment of a mercury standard, utility MACT rules or other controversial legislation that has drawn the ire of coalfield politicians.

The Obama administration has been accused of waging a "war on coal," with numerous regulations intended to cut back on the fuel's high level of emissions. A number of coal companies who have throttled production have blamed the policies of the Obama administration, coupled with less-controllable market factors.

If harming the coal industry was intentional, the president and his administration do little to tout what could be spun as victories in their one-year progress report.

The report also dodges the controversial issue of the Keystone XL pipeline. Obama was able to maintain a delay on approval of the pipeline despite heavy opposition from Republicans in the House and Senate.