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Obama Re-pledges Renewables Commitment as E&Y Reports US Falling Behind

When he stepped up to the podium on Thursday night to accept his party's nomination at the Democratic National Convention, President Barack Obama had quite a few things on his mind. One of those things was renewable energy. Another was climate change. In a speech that touched on issues ranging in scope from health care to job creation, Obama took time to restate his commitment to the improvement of fuel standards and continued investment in renewables.

Obama emphasized some of the positive energy gains that have been made in the past four years. “We raised fuel standards so that by the middle of the next decade, cars and trucks will go twice as far on a gallon of gas. We’ve doubled our use of renewable energy, and thousands of Americans have jobs today building wind turbines and long-lasting batteries,” he explained. “In the last year alone, we cut oil imports by one million barrels a day…and today, the United States of America is less dependent on foreign oil than at any time in nearly two decades.” 

Touching on solar power and biofuels, Obama said his administration will offer “a future where we keep investing in wind and solar and clean coal; where farmers and scientists harness new biofuels to power our cars and trucks; where construction workers build homes and factories that waste less energy; where we develop a hundred year supply of natural gas that's right beneath our feet.” 

Obama’s recommitment to eco-friendly initiatives comes at a critical time, fast on the heels of Ernst & Young’s renewable energy country attractiveness indices report, which again found China in the lead for renewable energy market dominance. According to the report, the United States is currently tied with Germany for second place, having dropped 1.5 points on the ARI (All Renewables Index) in the second quarter of 2012. 

Although the chief reasons for this drop are said to be a result of continued uncertainty with respect to the United States’ long-term renewable energy strategy — in addition to lingering doubts surrounding a much needed extension to the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind power producers — there was some encouraging news revealed by the report. Utilities in the U.S. are predicted to spend some $567 million in 2012 on smart grid-related software, with a further increase of 19 percent in the next two years.

Barack Obama’s stated plans to combat global warming were also aptly timed, with a recent Wall Street Journal article reporting record ice thaws throughout the Northern Hemisphere. In his speech, Obama called climate change “no hoax” and said his plan will place heavy emphasis on carbon pollution reduction. 

Obama’s deputy assistant for energy and climate change, Heather Zichal, indicated that renewable energy will remain a chief focus of the President’s goals if re-elected for another term in office, as will his efforts to convince Congress to enact a long-term energy policy. According to Zichal, the President “has talked continuously about the need for a long-term energy policy, and I think that will be something that he will obviously remain focused on in the second term.”

Lead image: Spirit of America via Shutterstock

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