SOTU 2012: Anything goes “first impressions” open thread

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Without an official transcript, and still with the SOTU speech being new, I thought I’d provide an open forum thread for first impressions, and open a thread specifically devoted to the SOTU speech.

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UPDATE: You can read the transcript provided by the WH here.

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Just to lead off on my own first impressions, I’d say that the POTUS and his TOTUS didn’t disappoint with a soaring campaign speech with all the expected moments… and a few unexpected surprises. For those that are the O’faithful, it’s an out of the park home run.

Even I will admit it was a good speech. Then again, I have as much appreciation for well done fiction as the next person.

What caught my ear most of all was one particular promise of administration-bypassing-Congress actions by this POTUS. Because I have no official transcript, I will use the Hillbuzz Blog Live Transcript wording. This relates to the “clean energy” parts of the speech, and Obama’s unusual tie in to the Defense Department.

We can spur energy innovation with new incentives. We need to fight climate change with a clean energy standard and innovation.

I am directing my administration to allow the development of clean energy on public land to power three million homes. The Department of Defense will purchase Navy clean energy.

The easiest way to save money is to not waste it.

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From UPDATED WH transcript, linked above:

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’s 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’m directing my administration to allow the development of clean energy on enough public land to power 3 million homes. And I’m 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.)

Once I got my eyebrows back into place, and my jaw clamped back shut, I started pondering… exactly what can the administration do to “develop” public lands, bypassing Congress, for development of national public lands in order to power three million private residences, and what the heck does the Navy and Defense Department have to do with it?

I have only one possible initial explanation to offer… (not much time to research before providing a forum/debate outlet)… and this comes from a June 2011 working draft plan from the Department of Energy, addressing geothermal energy. According to the document:

Excerpt from the Introduction & Overview: The clean energy priorities set forth by the Congress and the Administration require an investment climate where public and private sector partners can come together to research, develop and deploy technologies to make geothermal energy a sustainable resource for generations to come. Furthermore, looking ahead, the expanding electrification of society and replacement of aging generation infrastructure also will require that all renewable energy options are given full consideration. It is in this context that the contributions of geothermal energy to electricity production may become critical to meeting this sizable challenge.

This collaborative document describes the roles and responsibilities of key Federal agencies in the development of geothermal technologies including the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE); the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), including the U.S. Forest Service; the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI), including the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM); the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); and the Department of Defense (DOD). It also highlights the activities of those agencies that as early adopters are deploying geothermal technologies for end-use applications. In identifying these Federal initiatives, it is the purpose of this document to provide an overview of relevant Federal policies and programs for the geothermal industry, financial community, policymakers, state and local government, other stakeholders and the American public.

From pg 17 of the 38 pg draft, they address the role of the DoD and Navy INRE geothermal development.

Department of Defense (DOD) – Geothermal Program Office (GPO)

The Department of Defense (DOD) participates in geothermal development activities, in particular as an end user. In 1978, DOD established the Geothermal Program Office (GPO) and designated the United States Navy as the lead agency responsible for geothermal exploration and development on military lands. The DOD GPO manages 32 million acres of land. < ?b>GPO has helped develop geothermal energy projects for the military as end user at a variety of locations in the Western United States including in California, Nevada, and Arizona. They include those in California at the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake; the Naval Air Facility in El Centro; and the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms; those in Nevada at the Naval Air Station in Fallon and the Hawthorne Army Depot in Hawthorne; and the one in Arizona site at the Chocolate Mountains Aerial Gunnery Range at the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma. This section includes additional information on three of these projects, most notably the long-running and successful Coso Geothermal Field at China Lake, California.

Okay… I see that the Navy can develop public lands for geothermal as the end user of that development. But is Obama planning on using the US Navy to develop geothermal power for private residential use? And where does that authority come from?

Amy Harder at the National Journal also zero’ed in on the same phrase with her evening posting on the SOTU. She has interpreted it as the Navy making a clean energy purchase… enough to power three million homes.

With Congress gridlocked and clean-energy policy stifled by solar-panel maker Solyndra’s default on a federal loan, President Obama said on Tuesday evening in his State of the Union address that he is pressing forward with major initiatives in solar and wind energy that his administration can shepherd on its own.

“The differences in this chamber may be too deep right now to pass a comprehensive plan to fight climate change,” Obama said. “But there’s 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.”

Obama announced that the Navy will make the largest purchase of renewable energy purchase in history, enough to power a quarter of a million homes a year, and the Interior Department will lay the foundation to provide 3 million homes with renewable energy power from solar and wind projects on public lands by year’s end. The announcements are consistent with Obama’s “We Can’t Wait” initiatives that focus on actions the president can do under his own executive authority without congressional action.

I’m still snooping. Obvious the entertaining fiction that is Obama’s final (she says optimistically) SOTU speech is not fraught with details. But it is a direct reference to bypassing Congress, and using Executive Powers to push his agenda in any way possible.

So feel free to add your own thoughts, research and input to the evening here. And to point out some of the specific points of fiction you, personally, would like to highlight

Vietnam era Navy wife, indy/conservative, and an official California escapee now residing as a red speck in the sea of Oregon blue.

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