Republican lawmakers are pursuing an energy policy filled with “fairy tales” and “falsehoods” when they should be embracing President Barack Obama’s vision of alternative green energy programs, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a speech Tuesday.
“There is this imagined energy world… of fairy tales, falsehoods, that we often see in Washington,” Salazar said. “It’s a divide between the real energy world that we work on every day and the imagined fairy tale world.”
Speaking to members of the National Press Club, Salazar criticized members of
Congress who believe that solar and wind energy jobs are “somehow phony.”
“The president rightly pointed out that if these folks were around when Columbus set sail, they’d be charter members of the Flat Earth Society,” Salazar said.
“Americans agree that we need to broaden our energy portfolio. They support conventional energy, but in state after state they are voting to bring more solar, wind, geothermal, and biofuels into the mix,” Salazar said.
Among the Obama administration successes, Salazar cited his own approval of Cape Wind, an offshore farm of windmills on Nantucket Sound that will create electricity for parts of Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard.
“As of early 2009, not a single large-scale solar energy project had been approved for construction on public lands in this country. Offshore, Cape Wind had been languishing for eight long years,” Salazar said. “We’ve also approved Cape Wind’s permit and have built, from the ground-up, an offshore wind leasing program for our country.”
Interestingly, the leading opponent of the Cape Wind project was former Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who objected to the project for years, and its construction within view of the family Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port.
The Democratic icon passed away in August 2009. The Cape Wind project was approved in April 2010.
In allowing the project to proceed, Salazar insisted that the company find a way to make the windmills nearly invisible from shore.
Salazar said during his speech that oil and gas production increased sharply during Obama’s administration. However, a recent report by the Congressional Research Service found those increases were on private lands, not public lands operated by the federal government.
“America’s dependence on foreign oil has gone down every single year since President Obama took office,” Salazar said.
Salazar also called on the Republican House to pass three specific pieces legislation to make oil drilling safer, approve development of a transboundary oil and gas reservoir with Mexico, and create new clean energy standards and tax credits.
“I want to be realistic about what we can expect from this House of Representatives, but I do think there is some low-hanging fruit that should and could be passed even this year,” Salazar said.
“Is it likely that Congress will rise to the challenge this year? It’s hard to say, I think that those who have stood in the way of solutions are going to find the ground shifting under their feet. The energy world is changing, with or without them.
Whether it’s our oil and gas technology, our solar power plants, or our auto manufacturers, the pace of American innovation is staggering. The U.S. is determined to lead in the new energy world,” Salazar said.