In his annual speech to Congress and the American people tonight, President Obama is expected to address one of our nation’s most critical issues— energy. The Wilderness Society has led national efforts to ensure America moves steadily away from a fossil fuel based energy program, one of the many threats to our shared public lands, to a balanced approach that includes smart development of clean, renewable technologies.
The following statement can be attributed to Bill Meadows, president of The Wilderness Society:
“President Obama has done more to jump-start the clean energy economy than any previous president. Beginning in 2009 the Department of Interior has issued permits for 25 renewable energy projects on public lands - enough to power 2.3 million homes - while establishing a sensible framework for ensuring renewable energy is done “smart from the start,” by siting them in the right places with high energy potential and low environmental impacts.
“Continuing to expand clean energy infrastructure will keep America competitive in a global marketplace, and help free us from a harmful dependence on fossil fuels – both foreign and domestic. In the western US you are seeing the results of that effort with people being put to work, from construction jobs to high paying engineering roles. America needs these clean energy jobs.
“Tonight, President Obama is expected to lay out a plan to move America forward, but his call for increased production of domestic fossil fuels is misplaced. Recent drilling statistics prove that the oil and gas industry is sitting on millions of unused acres and thousands of unused drilling permits. In 2011 alone, for example, the Bureau of Land Management issued over 4,200 drilling permits – but only 3,260 wells were actually drilled.
“Energy independence in America will not be found at the bottom of well – it will be found alongside American jobs that cannot be outsourced, in a clean, renewable energy economy.”