Patt Morrison for November 9, 2011

The great compromise: what happened to Obama’s clean energy promise?

Various Activist Groups Protest Outside Obama Fundraiser

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A protestor against the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline climbs on a Keith Haring sculpture as he demonstrates outside of the W Hotel where U.S. President Barack Obama was holding a fundraiser on October 25, 2011 in San Francisco, California.

Three years ago Barack Obama promised his commitment to clean energy, calling for the end of America’s “tyranny of oil.” Now, the President is under fire for breaking his green promises.

Since taking office, the Obama Administration has opened up oil exploration in key areas of the Arctic and the Gulf of Mexico, and is considering a 1,700-mile oil pipeline that would cut through the continent. The Keystone XL pipeline would transmit crude oil from Canada into Montana and eventually to Gulf Coast refineries in Texas. Opponents say the $7 billion pipeline would also cause dire environmental impacts, emitting three times the carbon than conventional oil practices and potentially polluting water supplies.

Also under his belt is the BP oil spill from last summer, and most recently the controversy over solar panel maker Solyndra, which received more than $500 million in federal loan guarantees before going bankrupt.

In the meantime, Obama is waiting on report from the State Department before making a final decision on the pipeline. Is there a middle ground for what is best for our economy and environment? TransCanada, the company behind the pipeline, alleges the project would not only reduce US dependence on foreign oil, but also create 20,000 jobs.


In today’s bleak economy, is the timing right for clean energy? What is the direction for clean energy policy? When do we make a real commitment to give up fossil fuel? For those disappointed in Obama’s energy policy, what is the alternative?


Marty Durbin, executive vice president, American Petroleum Institute

Carl Pope, executive director, Sierra Club

Nick Loris, policy analyst, Heritage Foundation

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