Obama sets 2035 clean electricity target
President Barack Obama set a target for power plants to produce mostly clean electricity by 2035 -- including power from sources like clean coal and natural gas -- in his State of the Union address on Tuesday.
Obama also called for investment in clean technologies and urged Congress to eliminate billions of dollars in subsidies for oil companies.
"I don't know if you've noticed, but they're doing just fine on their own," Obama said about oil company profits. "So instead of subsidizing yesterday's energy, let's invest in tomorrow's."
Such a move, which Obama has repeatedly urged since taking office in 2009, would hit U.S. operations of oil majors such as Exxon Mobil, British Petroleum and ConocoPhillips. In last year's budget Obama had called for an end to nearly $40 billion in subsidies for oil, gas and coal companies, a proposal that failed.
But while he took aim again at oil companies, Obama sought a centrist message on an issue that has sharply divided Washington, saying nuclear power and two fossil fuels, clean coal and natural gas, would be needed to meet a goal of 80 percent clean energy in less than 25 years.
"Some folks want wind and solar. Others want nuclear, clean coal, and natural gas," Obama said. "To meet this goal, we will need them all and I urge Democrats and Republicans to work together to make it happen."
After a comprehensive energy bill that included a cap and trade market on carbon emissions failed in the Senate, Obama said last year that climate change policy would have to be achieved in smaller chunks.
Josh Freed, the director of the clean energy program at the nonpartisan think tank Third Way, said Obama's inclusion of nuclear power and natural gas in his targets for clean energy could attract the necessary votes in Congress.
"There's a large faction of Republicans and some Democrats who don't believe we can make the transition to clean energy without including nuclear power," he said.
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