State of the Union And Why I Can’t Make Up My Mind About the President

Has there ever been a better opening to a State of the Union address than hearing the president say he ended a war and made sure the greatest terrorist in the last 20 years at least has been killed?  I started to think I just might make it through the whole thing (I’ve been sick all week and was lucky to see the speech start).

It was one of those speeches where I agreed with most of what Obama was saying.

I’ve been saying for years that we need another New Deal.  Put people to work rebuilding our roads, bridges and buildings.  It is why I love the MSNBC commerical with Rachel Maddow standing at the Hover Dam.  Why has it taken everyone else so long to catch up to this idea? This has to happen.  Along with upgrades to high speed rail, improvements and expansion of broadband internet, and even bringing indoor plumbing to few places in the country that don’t have it (yes this is still a problem).  We have to keep reinvesting in our infrastructure or it won’t last.

Higher education is necessary, and as the cost continues to increase it is frightening to think about what Generation Y will be spending to send their children to college.  It should get easier, not harder, to get a college degree.  Why can’t we make college tuition tax deductible?  Yes, I’m going to hang on to those amazing policy ideas concocted to The West Wing in the hopes that someone actually finds a way to make them happen.

The Financial Crimes Unit and Trade Enforcement Unit: Why do I sense new crime dramas coming soon to your TV?  All I can really say about either is, it’s about time!  Shouldn’t there have been more investigations when the financial crisis first happened?  Shouldn’t someone have been watching for counterfeit goods and doing something to stop or even prevent it?  It’s about time.

What did I disagree on?

“Over the last three years, we’ve opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration, and tonight, I’m directing my administration to open more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources.”

“We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly one hundred years, and my administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy. Experts believe this will support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade. And I’m requiring all companies that drill for gas on public lands to disclose the chemicals they use. America will develop this resource without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk.”

This is our great solution: more drilling?  I’m shocked at the request to open so much oil and gas resources.  I’m appalled at the interest in natural gas.  This whole part of the speech worries me.  Was the Gulf Oil Spill not a warning sign to anyone?  Drilling for natural gas is dangerous: and disclosing the chemicals used does not prevent those chemicals from getting into the water system.  It doesn’t make it safe  and it doesn’t help the homes around it just because drilling is happening on public land.  This isn’t the solution to our dependence on oil – it’s just a solution to our dependence on foreign oil.  There is still a problem that needs solving and yes, investment in wind power, battery power and solar power are helpful.  But in the mean time we’re going to pollute a valuable natural resource – our water supply – and endanger citizens.  Saying we can make fracking safe is like talking about clean coal.  It’s not safe and it’s not clean. Oil spills can be cleaned up, but scars remain, as does at least some of the oil.

The President seemed to go out of his way to avoid using the word “fracking” last night.  That irked me, to say the least.  I went to bed angry.

So what did I read when I got up this morning?  I read the rest of the speech.  And it sound like the guy I voted for four years ago.  The end of the speech was inspiring, and while I want to like it hold on to the issues I have with some of the policy he is proposing.  As with every speech the President gives, I disagree with something.  But I know that I can share my thoughts and do my part to fight those policy initiatives.  And I will.  While the environment may not have been at the top of my list of issues in the past it’s always been on the list.  Now it’s just time to speak up about them!

*Photo via Creative Commons-license by Flickr user jcolman

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