Science Talk

State of the Union: Research, Technology and Energy

About six minutes of President Obama's State of the Union address dealt with research, technology and energy

Podcast Transcription

Steve:          Welcome to the Scientific American podcast, Science Talk, posted on January 25th, 2012, I'm Steve Mirsky. Last night President Obama delivered the State of the Union address. Here's a little more than six minutes of the sections dealing with research, technology and energy. Anywhere I have made an edit in the audio, you'll hear a musical interlude. And I have lowered the volume on some of the applause for the sake of all of our ears. I think science-interested listeners across the political spectrum can find points of both strong agreement and major disagreement in these few minutes of the talk.

Obama:          Hundreds of thousands of talented, hardworking students in this country face another challenge. The fact that they aren't yet American citizens. Many who are brought here are as small children are American through and through. Yet they live everyday with the threat of the deportation. Others came more recently to study business and science and engineering, but as soon as they get their degree, we send them home, to invent new products, and create new jobs somewhere else. That doesn't make sense…. Let's at least agree to stop expelling responsible young people who want to staff our labs, start new businesses, defend this country…. Innovation also demands basic research. Today, the discoveries taking place in our federally financed labs and universities could lead to new treatments that kill cancer cells but leave healthy ones untouched. New lightweight vests for cops and soldiers that can stop any bullet. Don't gut these investments in our budget. Don't let other countries win the race for the future. Support the same kind of research and innovation that led to the computer chip and the Internet, to new American jobs and new American industries. And nowhere is the promise of innovation greater than in American made energy. Over the last three years we've opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration, and tonight I am directing my administration to open more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources. (applause) Right now, right now, American oil production is the highest that has been in eight years—that's right, eight years. Not only that, last year we relied less on foreign oil than in any of the past 16 years (applause). But with only 2 percent of the world's oil reserves, oil isn't enough. This country needs an all out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy (applause); a strategy that's cleaner, cheaper and full of new jobs. We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly 100 years (applause), and my administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy. The experts believe this will support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade, and I am requiring all companies that drill for gas on public lands to disclose the chemicals they use. (applause)because America will develop this resource without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk. The development of natural gas will create jobs and power trucks and factories that are cleaner and cheaper, proving that we don't have to choose between our environment and our economy. And by the way, it was public research dollars, over the course of 30 years that helped develop the technologies to extract all of this natural gas out of shale rock reminding us that government support is critical in helping businesses get new energy ideas off the ground. (applause) Now what is true for natural gas is just as true for clean energy. In three years our partnership with the private sector has already positioned America to be the world's leading manufacturer of high tech batteries. Because of federal investments, renewable energy use has nearly doubled and thousands of Americans have jobs because of it…. I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China or Germany because we refused to make the same commitment here. We've subsidized oil companies for a century. That's long enough. It's time to end the taxpayer giveaways (applause) to an industry that rarely has been more profitable and double down on a clean energy industry that never has been more promising. Pass clean energy tax credits; create these jobs. We can also spur energy innovation with new incentives. The differences in this chamber may be too deep right now to pass a comprehensive plan to fight climate change. But there is no reason why Congress shouldn't at least set a clean energy standard that creates a market for innovation. So far, you haven't acted. Well, tonight I will. I am directing my administration to allow the development of clean energy on enough public land to power 3 million homes, and I am proud to announce that the Department of Defense working with us, the world's largest consumer of energy will make one of the largest commitments to clean energy in history, with the Navy purchasing enough capacity to power a quarter of a million homes a year. (applause)

Steve:          For more on energy in the State of the Union, see Fred Guterl's article at titled "How Obama Plans to 'Double Down' on Clean Energy." For Scientific American's Science Talk, I'm Steve Mirsky. Thanks for clicking on us.

Share this Article:


You must sign in or register as a member to submit a comment.

Email this Article