ENVIRONMENT
03/28/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Energy Talk In The State Of The Union And The Rebuttal

Last night's State of the Union speech held no real surprises for environmentally-minded watchers. The president sounds like he's ready for, well, change -- and a cap-and-trade bill.

Joe Romm recapped the energy-related portions of the speech at ClimateProgress:

Yet he made clear that even in these darkest of times -- indeed, especially in these darkest of times -- we must make clean energy a top priority, we must address our dependence on oil, and we must "save our planet from the ravages of climate change" if we are to remain a great nation....

"But to truly transform our economy, protect our security, and save our planet from the ravages of climate change, we need to ultimately make clean, renewable energy the profitable kind of energy. So I ask this Congress to send me legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution and drives the production of more renewable energy in America. And to support that innovation, we will invest fifteen billion dollars a year to develop technologies like wind power and solar power; advanced biofuels, clean coal, and more fuel-efficient cars and trucks built right here in America....

"I think about Greensburg, Kansas, a town that was completely destroyed by a tornado, but is being rebuilt by its residents as a global example of how clean energy can power an entire community -- how it can bring jobs and businesses to a place where piles of bricks and rubble once lay. "The tragedy was terrible," said one of the men who helped them rebuild. "But the folks here know that it also provided an incredible opportunity."

THE REPUBLICAN REBUTTAL

Grist's Kate Sheppard wrote up the energy-related highlights of the Republican response by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal:

The GOP solution Jindal offered sounded something like the Obama proposed just before, but included nuclear power and increased oil and gas drilling.

"To stop that from happening, we need to increase conservation, increase energy efficiency, increase the use of alternative and renewable fuels, increase our use of nuclear power, and increase drilling for oil and gas here at home," he said. "We believe that Americans can do anything and if we unleash the innovative spirit of our citizens, we can achieve energy independence."

Jindal criticized the newly enacted stimulus package for including funds to purchase more efficient vehicles for the federal government and for high-speed rail. "It includes $300 million to buy new cars for the government, $8 billion for high-speed rail projects, such as a 'magnetic levitation' line from Las Vegas to Disneyland, and $140 million for something called 'volcano monitoring,'" he said. "Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington, D.C."

Jindal also spoke at length about government failures during Hurricane Katrina, and Grist notes that the governor didn't mention which party was in power at the time.

One more detail Jindal doesn't mention is that the mag-lev train from Las Vegas to Disneyland is actually part of a transportation bill signed by the previous president.

And Matthew Yglesias reported that there was no special plan for a Las Vegas train, finding instead a map of possible rail routes that included a great deal of rail in the midwest, in the rust belt and three routes out of Jindal's own Louisiana.