WASHINGTON -- February 1 -- As President Bush starts his second term, his State of the Union speech provides him with an opportunity both to address the significant challenges facing the country and to begin creating his non-war legacy. The member organizations of the Sustainable Energy Coalition believe that the centerpiece for this term should be clean energy through which the United States would be able to address numerous significant challenges facing the country.
Accordingly, in his State of the Union address, President Bush should provide a vision of the future that will set long term goals of energy sustainability and energy self-sufficiency and intermediate objectives to resolve immediate energy issues as well as set forth alternative policies for attaining the goals.
President Bush should warn Americans that energy consumption patterns continue to drive up both oil and natural gas imports while prices for both commodities reach and exceed historic levels. This is not only a threat to the economy but is also undermining the nation's security because a significant portion of these imports are coming from politically unstable regions of the world. Moreover, continued imports of natural gas may necessitate the construction of additional Liquid Natural Gas facilities whose inherent safety, as well as their ability to withstand terrorist attack, are subject to significant debate.
President Bush should also alert American voters that the U.S. trade deficit continues to worsen and now stands at more than half a trillion dollars annually with oil imports alone accounting for more than a quarter of the total. This is undermining the nation's economy, adversely affects consumers' buying power, and threatens the future of American jobs.
President Bush should confront the fact that the U.S. budget deficit is not likely to be reduced significantly in the near future but may, in fact, increase significantly during the coming year. This risks serious damage to investors' confidence in the U.S. economy while driving up interest costs for industry and consumers alike. Further, this will place even more pressure on discretionary spending for energy development, environmental protection, scientific research, and myriad other government programs unless
alleviated by new economic growth or new sources of revenue.
President Bush should acknowledge that recent international studies are now suggesting that climate change may be occurring at a much faster pace than earlier projected and that irreversible cataclysmic effects may start to be felt within a decade unless aggressive measures are taken now. This could prove to be the most costly environmental threat the United States and the global community have ever faced.
To address these challenges President Bush should call for a change in past policies and challenge the U.S. Congress to embrace a broad array of initiatives to aggressively tap the potential of sustainable energy technologies.
In combination, renewable energy and energy efficient technologies offer the promise of reduced energy imports, an improved balance of trade, enhanced national security, a cleaner environment, curbs in the emission of greenhouse gases, and a decrease in the national budget deficit through the creation of new domestic industries and high-quality jobs.
To tap this potential, President Bush should call for enactment of aggressive Renewable Portfolio and Renewable Fuels Standards that would require that a growing percentage of the nation's electricity and transportation fuels be provided by renewable resources. The President should further call for energy savings targets for electric and gas utilities, and for greatly strengthening fuel efficiency standards for automobiles and trucks, and appliances. The President should also stress the need for a mix of tax incentives and budgetary outlays to sustain the necessary research, development, and deployment of these technologies as well as measures to increase their market share.
By establishing a broad and meaningful vision of the future that will provide attainable goals for energy self-sufficiency and energy security, the President can provide guidelines to help Congress formulate energy and environmental policies that will integrate current attempts to achieve balanced energy and environmental plans within his vision for the United States over the long term.
The Sustainable Energy Coalition is a coalition of 85 national and state-level business, environmental, consumer, and energy policy groups which collectively represent several thousand companies and community-based organizations. Founded in 1992, the Sustainable Energy Coalition advocates increased use of renewable energy and energy efficient technologies.