NPR logo Speech Analysis: Energy

Speech Analysis: Energy

President Obama made much mention of the word "energy," and virtually every time he said it, he prefaced it with the adjective "clean." In fact, "clean energy" appeared seven times in the speech. In keeping with congressional Democrats trying to pass an energy and climate bill, Obama is trying to convince a skeptical public and doubtful Republicans that greening up the energy economy is a jobs program — not, as opponents argue, a route to higher utility and gas bills.

Besides the promise of more jobs, the president advocated for a greener energy economy by raising the threat of competition from abroad. Obama said the climate change bill now stuck in the Senate would help put the United States ahead of China, Germany and India in the manufacture of new energy-saving technologies. "These nations aren't standing still," the president said. "These nations aren't playing for second place."

And Obama threw in some potential sweeteners for those in Congress sitting on the energy/climate fence — more money for nuclear power plants ("clean" ones, he said), as well as the option of drilling for more oil and gas in U.S. waters.

The president also made brief reference to the fact that, at the international climate conference in Copenhagen last December, he had promised to collaborate with other nations to put numerical limits on greenhouse gas emissions — a minor mention of a major break with the Bush administration's stance on international collaboration.

Article continues after sponsorship

All in all, the president broke no new ground on energy and made no specific promises not already in the works, but reminded the public that energy — "clean energy" — remains high on his wish list.