In his State of the Union address on Tuesday evening, President Barack Obama set a new goal for the nation: To obtain 80% of its electricity from “clean energy” by 2035. But his definition of “clean energy” included “nuclear, clean coal, and natural gas” as well as “wind and solar.” “Now, clean energy breakthroughs will only translate into clean energy jobs if businesses know there will be a market for what they’re selling. So tonight, I challenge you to join me in setting a new goal: By 2035, 80 percent of America’s electricity will come from clean energy sources,” he said, pausing for applause.
Then he said: “Some folks want wind and solar. Others want nuclear, clean coal and natural gas. To meet this goal, we will need them all—and I urge Democrats and Republicans to work together to make it happen.” The president also called for a million electric cars on the road by 2015 and high-speed rail by 2035, but he didn’t mention climate change or a goal to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.
One reason for the absence of those phrases could have to do with the departure of Carol Browner, the president’s top energy and environmental adviser. The White House’s announcement on Monday night that Browner was to leave the administration in the coming weeks did not include any information about what would happen to the Office of Energy and Climate Change.
A White House aide told Politico that the “mission of [Browner’s] office will remain critical to the president, and she is pleased with what will be in the [State of the Union address] and in the budget [next month] on clean energy.” As Politico noted, Browner had spearheaded passage of a comprehensive climate change bill in the House last year. That bill failed to make it through the Senate, however.