State Of The Union 2012: “An America That’s Built to Last”
8:37pm – Good evening and welcome to Streetsblog Capitol Hill’s live-blogging coverage of President Obama’s State of the Union address. Previews of the speech indicate that transportation policy won’t be much of a centerpiece, but we’ll be here to pick up on any passages that might be of special interest to our readers. Scroll down to the bottom to see the latest updates.
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9:11pm – Obama is introduced by Speaker John Boehner. He opens with foreign policy: “For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq.”
9:39pm – “Over the last three years, we’ve opened millions of acres for exploration.” After acknowledging that America has relied less on foreign oil, President Obama says that an “all-out, all-of-the-above” energy strategy is still necessary, and orders additional offshore drilling space made available. “We have a supply of natural gas… America will develop this resource without putting the health of our citizens at risk.” Expanded drilling for oil and natural gas has been a staple of Republican proposals to fund infrastructure expansion.
The President also said: “We’ve subsidized oil companies for a century,” which is long enough.
9:43pm – The President calls out Congress for failing to deliver climate change legislation, and announces a push to develop clean energy with the help of the Department of Defense.
9:45pm – 34 minutes in, the first reference to transportation infrastructure: “So much of America needs to be rebuit: we’ve got crumbling roads and bridges…”
“After WWII… Democratic and Republican administrations invested in great projects… Take the money we’re not spending on war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest of it to do some nation building right here at home. There’s never been a better time to build.”
10:16pm – That’s all, folks. While last year’s speech outlined ambitious goals for infrastructure initiatives like high-speed rail, this speech — which was not short on sweeping goals — barely mentioned transportation. Furthermore, in a speech that contained a fair amount of congressional scolding, there was no mention of the eight extensions of the federal surface transportation law. He did single out subsidies to oil companies as a flaw in the nation’s energy policy, and devoted a fair amount of time to promoting the value of clean, renewable energy sources. However, he did so only after announcing his intention to expand offshore drilling. If the President has a plan to advance a transportation policy agenda before the election, he certainly gave no indication of it tonight.