President Barack Obama visited Las Vegas today on a swing through the West, talking up energy development to create jobs and reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil.
In comments delivered at the United Parcel Service hub on East Arby Lane, President Obama said development of natural gas reserves would serve both these purposes.
The president jogged out to loud, enthused cheers from a clearly friendly crowd.
“We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly a hundred years,” he said in his prepared remarks. “Developing it could power our cars, our homes, and our factories in a cleaner and cheaper way. And experts believe it could support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade.”
The president’s visit, coming after stops in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Chandler, Arizona, was meant to reinforce comments made Tuesday in his State of the Union address. His next stops are in Colorado and Michigan.
“Part of my blueprint for an economy built to last is American energy” the president said.
In his remarks, Obama touted the fact that oil production in the U.S. is the highest it has been in eight years, and dependence on foreign oil was less last year than at any time in the past 16 years.
He also announced that his administration will soon open up around 38 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico for exploration and development, which could result in a lot more production of domestic energy.
“Here’s the thing, though,” he said. “Even with all this oil production, we only have 2 percent of the world’s reserves. So we need an all-out, all-in, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy – a strategy that’s cleaner, cheaper, and full of new jobs.”
Any natural gas development will come only with assurances that the environment and public health will be protected, the president said.
“That’s why I’m requiring – for the first time ever – that all companies drilling for gas on public lands disclose the chemicals they use. America will develop this resource without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk.”
The president used the UPS site because of the company’s use of natural gas to power its vehicles.
The president arrived at the facility at 10 a.m. after an uneventful motorcade. A crowd of a few hundred gathered in a parking lot behind the facility to hear the speech.
“We started out with five companies that accepted the challenge, and UPS was one of the first. Less than a year later, we’ve got fourteen companies on board, and together, they represent one million vehicles on the road.”
To encourage even more use of natural gas, the president proposed new tax incentives to help companies buy more clean trucks.
He also said his administration will continue to work with the private sector to ensure the vehicles have places to refuel, developing five natural gas corridors along the nation’s highways.
“These are highways that have natural gas fueling stations between cities – just like the one the folks at UPS, South Coast Air, and Clean Energy Fuels are opening today between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City,” the president said.
UPS, along with local government and Clean Energy Fuels, a natural gas station deployment company, received a $5.6 million cost-share investment through the Recovery Act to purchase liquefied natural gas (LNG ) vehicles and construct a public LNG refueling station in Las Vegas.
This refueling station has created the first multi-state publicly accessible LNG refueling corridor in the country, enabling LNG vehicles to drive from the Port of Long Beach to Salt Lake City.
The president also said he will ask Energy Secretary Steven Chu to launch a new competition to encourage the country’s scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs to discover new breakthroughs for natural gas vehicles.
“So we’re going to keep moving on American energy,” the president said.
The Nevada Republican Party criticized the visit, calling it an expensive, taxpayer-subsidized campaign stop.
“Barack Obama’s taxpayer-funded trip to Nevada today isn’t to promote new ideas or solutions to improve our state, but instead to promote his fledgling reelection campaign,” said party Chairwoman Amy Tarkanian in a statement.
“When Obama talks about green jobs today, he hopes we forget about the 20,000 new jobs prevented from blocking the Keystone Pipeline and his green job debacle, Solyndra, that cost the taxpayers $500,000 and another 1,100 jobs lost,” she said.