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Obama says fighting climate change is good for business—except for the oil business

Reuters/Larry Downing
Advancing wind—and solar.
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

US president Barack Obama has a message for climate-change naysayers: Don’t look at fighting global warming as saving the world, but as a promising business.

During his eighth and last State of the Union address, Obama called upon the nation to not “pass up the chance for American businesses to produce and sell the energy of the future.”

Investments in alternative energy such as wind and solar have already slashed energy costs and utility bills, and boosted wages for energy workers, he said during the speech.

More needs to be spent on alternative energy, he went on, and less on subsidizing fossil fuels. As part of that goal, Obama vowed to change how oil and coal are managed “so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet.” That would inject money into local economies and help the nation build a “21st-century transportation system,” he said.

To some observers, that sounded remarkably close to a carbon tax, something academics and environmentalists have long pushed as a mechanism to curb global-warming emissions.

Whatever the president has in mind, the oil industry doesn’t appear to like the sound of it. API, the US’s main oil-industry trade group, responded to the speech with a statement saying Obama should avoid “bombarding our economy with duplicative, job-crushing new regulations.”

“The goals of environmental progress and energy production are not mutually exclusive,” API’s CEO, Jack Gerard, said in the statement. “Our nation’s new status as the world’s leading producer of oil and natural gas is saving American families and businesses billions in energy costs.”

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