President Obama’s penultimate State of the Union was closely watched by politicos and policy wonks alike. It was, after all, his first address to a fully Republican Congress. What the President said, and how he said it, was very telling of how he wants to treat his last two years.
Many State of the Union addresses look forward and set lofty goals. In contrast, this year’s address was a look back at how the country has changed over the past six years. He noted with respect to energy that, “every three weeks, we bring online as much solar power as we did in all of 2008” and that “America is [now] number one in wind power.”
The President also focused on EPA’s 111(d) rulemaking and stated very clearly that he will “not let this Congress endanger the health of our children by turning back the clock on our efforts” – a not-so-subtle threat to veto the bills Congress is considering that would prevent EPA from finalizing its Clean Power Plan. This rulemaking is a major market opportunity for advanced energy companies. AEE’s work on 111(d) can be found here.
Reforming the tax code was another theme in the speech. As AEE has noted before, while the potential of a tax reform deal in Congress is great, there are numerous obstacles getting in the way. Among these is that the idea of “tax reform” seems to mean different things to each party. AEE has developed principles for how Congress ought to consider tax reform to best help the advanced energy industry grow.
Aside from the pageantry of the State of the Union address, Congress also continued its early work under the new Republican leadership. As promised, and as noted by AEE, the Senate has adopted – in the early goings, at least – a more open amendment process. Right now, the Senate is still considering a House-passed bill that approves the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, despite a veto threat from the White House and insufficient votes to overturn the veto. The Keystone pipeline bill has been a longstanding campaign promise, so it makes sense that it is the first out of the gate. It is also proving to be an early test of Senate leadership’s open amendment process. But given the bill’s unlikely chances of becoming law, the hope is that Congress will get back to the business of finding compromises and legislating once they have concluded this largely political exercise.
Click below to download AEE's full comments on the EPA's Clean Power Plan.