* Obama sees clean energy fund with oil, gas revenue
* President vows to act without Congress if necessary
* More solar, wind power in national interest
By Patrick Rucker and Deborah Zabarenko
WASHINGTON, Feb 12 U.S. President Barack Obama
on Tuesday gave Congress an ultimatum on climate change: craft a
plan to slash greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the dangers
of a warming world, or the White House will go it alone.
"If Congress won't act soon to protect future generations, I
will," Obama said in his State of the Union address. "I will
direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take,
now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our
communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed
the transition to more sustainable sources of energy."
Congress should consider putting a price on climate-warming
carbon emissions, Obama said, briefly nodding to his failed,
first-term plan to confront climate change. Republican
opposition means the president's best chance to confront the
issue will mean flexing executive power.
He vowed to push for more and cheaper solar and wind energy,
and pledged to cut red tape to encourage more drilling for
domestic natural gas, which Obama said had driven down fuel
prices in the United States.
"But I also want to work with this Congress to encourage the
research and technology that helps natural gas burn even cleaner
and protects our air and water," the president said.
Framing the politically charged issue in terms of recent
severe weather, Obama said the nation should use its abundance
of fossil fuels to pivot towards a no-emissions energy future.
To help pay for it, Obama proposed using revenue from oil
and gas drilled on federal land to wean the nation off those
same carbon fuels and promote clean energy.
"I propose we use some of our oil and gas revenues to fund
an Energy Security Trust that will drive new research and
technology to shift our cars and trucks off oil for good," the
About 30 percent of U.S. oil and gas production and 40
percent of the nation's coal is managed by the Interior
Department. The department collected roughly $12 billion in
revenue from federal land last year.
Interior, steward of federal lands, already has proposed
collecting higher royalties on some oil and gas exploration
while critics have said the agency does a poor job of collecting
revenue due taxpayers.
Energy efficiency is also key, Obama said, urging that
Americans cut in half the energy wasted in homes and business in
the next 20 years. He said the federal government would support
states that create jobs and cut power bills by constructing more
Building on his Inauguration Day pledge to confront climate
change despite the skepticism of Republican critics, Obama
framed the issue in terms of recent severe weather and took aim
at those who deny the link between human activity and global
"We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the
most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some
states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we
can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science -
and act before it's too late," he said.
Promoting renewable energy like wind and solar power could
make the United States a more globally competitive economy,
"Last year, wind energy added nearly half of all new power
capacity in America," he said. "As long as countries like China
keep going all-in on clean energy, so must we."
The president's first term saw a doubling of energy from
wind and solar power and a measure to increase fuel economy
standards to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. This year is
expected to see rules to curb emissions from power plants, which
accounts for about 40 percent of carbon emissions.
But Obama's first-term ambition to put a price on carbon
fell flat and any similar initiative is likely to fail while
Republicans control the U.S. House of Representatives.
One of the executive actions Obama could take would be to
increase green fuels for the U.S. military, the world's largest
The Pentagon already has helped finance renewable fuel
suppliers, and this spur to the renewable energy market could
grow in Obama's second term.
The Interior Department could require companies that drill
or mine on federal land capture more methane, a potent
(Reporting by Deborah Zabarenko and Patrick Rucker; Editing by
Marilyn W. Thompson and Jim Loney)