What Does Obama Mean By “Sustainable Energy”?

From Climate Science Watch

By Rick Piltz

“The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult,” President Obama said in his second Inaugural Address on January 21.  ”But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it.” What is the President thinking of when he uses the term “sustainable energy“? Does he think it’s compatible with his current “all of the above” energy policy, or will he acknowledge the contradiction and the need to re-frame his approach?

The relevant text from the Inaugural Address:

We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity.  We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.  Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.

The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult.  But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it.  We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise.  That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks.  That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God.  That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.

Back in 1989 — one year after global warming first became a high-profile policy issue in Washington — I co-authored with Chris Flavin at the Worldwatch Institute a report titled Sustainable Energy. So when a U.S. president finally says “sustainable energy” in an inaugural address the words jump out at me.

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