Campaign Promises

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Energy - GeneralGrade
The Promise: "I will report to the American people every year on the State of our Energy Future..."
When/Where: Campaign Speech, Portsmouth, NH, dated 10/08/07.
Status:To one extent or another, President Obama addressed the nation's energy status during his annual "State of the Union" reports to Congress. But this promise was to deliver an annual "State of our Energy Future" report to the American people.

CY2010: President Obama had until 01/20/10 (one year after his first term inauguration) to initially honor this promise. He didn't do so.

CY2011: On 03/30/11, he delivered a speech at Georgetown University entitled "A Secure Energy Future." This non-national speech was delivered in conjunction with the Department of Energy's release of its "Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future."

CY2012: On 02/23/12, he delivered a major address at the University of Miami focused on energy.

CY2013: A national address, entitled "Taking Control of Our Energy Future," was delivered by the President in his weekly address to the nation on 03/03/13.

CY2014: On 05/09/14, President Obama delivered remarks on "American Energy" at a Walmart in Mountain View, CA.

CY2015: On 08/25/15, President Obama was a principal speaker at the National Clean Energy Summit held in Las Vegas, NV.

CY2016: President Obama delivered a weekly address on 02/06/16 entitled "Doubling Our Clean Energy Funding to Address the Challenge of Climate Change" as well as the weekly address of 08/13/16 entitled "Providing a Better, Cleaner, Safer Future for Our Children."

This promise was not fulfilled.
The Promise: "...will swap oil from the Strategic Petroleum help bring down prices at the pump."
When/Where: Obama and Biden's Plan for America: "Blueprint for Change," dated 10/09/08.
Status:When this promise was made in 10/08, gasoline cost an average of $3.80 per gallon, having peaked in 07/08 at around $4.10 per gallon. The ensuing months to President Obama's inauguration saw national average prices per gallon of regular gasoline decline to around $1.90 per gallon.

By 05/09/11, the national average cost of regular gasoline had climbed to $3.97 per gallon. In response on 06/23/11, the Obama Administration released 30M barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help Americans during their CY2011 summer vacation travels.

As of 12/31/16, the national average cost of one gallon of regular gasoline was $2.33. In the Contiguous United States (CONUS), California had the highest average cost per gallon at $2.75 whereas South Carolina enjoyed the lowest at $2.08 for regular gasoline. Gasoline prices are usually higher in Hawaii and Alaska when compared to the CONUS average with $3.00 and $2.64 respectively per gallon of regular gasoline on the same date. Source:

This promise was fulfilled.
The Promise: "...will launch a Clean Technologies Venture Capital Fund that will provide $10 billion a year for five years to get the most promising clean energy technologies off the ground."
When/Where: Campaign Speech, Portsmouth, NH, dated 10/08/07.
Status:The promised "Clean Technologies Venture Capital Fund" had not been created as of end-CY2016. In fact, the Brookings Institute has since reported that venture capital funding for clean technologies, which includes sectors like solar, energy storage and smart grid, dropped by 30% between 2011 and 2016.

Loan guarantees for clean technologies initiatives were included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, but did not satisfy the exact specifications stated in this promise.

This promise was not fulfilled.
The Promise: "...will invest federal resources, including tax incentives, cash prizes and government contracts into developing the most promising technologies with the goal of getting the first two billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol into the system by 2013."
When/Where: Obama Plan: "Make America a Global Energy Leader," dated 10/07/07.
Status:Cellulosic ethanol is made from corn stalks, wood chips and other biomass such as grass clippings, and not food such as corn.

The Renewable Fuels Reinvestment Act of 2010 (H.R. 4940), introduced by Congressman Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) on 03/25/10, would have extended the $1.01 per gallon tax credit for cellulosic ethanol producers beyond 12/31/10. This bill was referred to the Subcommittee on Trade and no further action was taken when the 111th Congress expired at the end of CY2010. No similar bill was introduced during the 112th, 113th or 114th Congress.

Cellulosic ethanol production didn't begin in earnest until CY2012. Financing was the biggest impediment to progress in building the needed cellulosic ethanol production plants on an industrial/national scale. Banks considered financing the first of these plants too risky.

By end-CY2016, POET Biorefining LLC, the nation's premier producer of cellulosic ethanol, had ethanol productions sites at Hanlontown, Iowa; Hudson, South Dakota; and Caro, Michigan. The combined production capability of these three facilities was 171M gallons per year (MGPY).

This promise was not fulfilled.
The Promise: "...will provide $4 billion retooling tax credits and loan guarantees for domestic auto plants and parts manufacturers, so that the new fuel-efficient cars can be built in the U.S. by American workers rather than overseas."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "New Energy for America" dated 09/06/08.
Status:During CY2009 and CY2010, retooling tax credits were provided to the auto industry at the city and state levels.

As to loans for retooling, the Department of Energy (DOE) has been effective in providing loans to the auto industry such as the $1.4B loan to Nissan in 01/10 to retool a Smyrna, TN plant where it will build its electric LEAF sedan and batteries for that vehicle. Six months prior, Nissan had won a conditional $1.6B loan guarantee under the DOE's Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) program. On 08/29/12, Forbes Magazine reported additional success stories:

Ford: used a $5.9B loan from the DOE to convert two truck plants to small-car production and to develop more fuel-efficient vehicles like the Ford Focus EV and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid.

Nissan: received a $1.4B loan from the DOE to build a battery plant and modify an existing car factory in Tennessee to produce the electric Nissan Leaf instead of producing that vehicle in Japan.

Tesla: used a $465M DOE loan to build a battery plant and retool part of a former Toyota-GM factory to build the Model S, its second electric car.

Vehicle Production Group: used a $50M DOE loan to add a compressed natural gas version of its MV-1 handicapped accessible van.

Johnson Controls: used a $300M DOE grant to build an advanced-battery cell plant in Michigan to relocate work to the USA from Europe.

Dow Kokam: a joint venture between Dow Chemical, a Korean battery maker and a French engineering company used a $161M DOE grant to build an advanced-battery factory in Michigan.

This promise was fulfilled.
The Promise: "...will...invest $150 billion over ten years to deploy clean technologies..."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan for America entitled: "Blueprint for Change" dated 10/09/08.
Status:The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 included over $90B for energy efficiency and renewable energy.

The breakout of this $90B of ARRA funding was roughly $29B for energy efficiency, $21B for renewable generation, $18B for traditional and high speed rail, $10B for grid modernization, $6B for advanced batteries, advanced vehicles and fuels technologies, $3B for carbon capture and sequestration technologies, $3B for green innovation and job training, and $2B for clean energy equipment manufacturing tax credits.

President Obama's FY2012 budget request included but was not limited to:
- $5.4B for the Office of Science, including $2.0B for basic energy sciences to discover new ways to produce, store, and use energy.
- $457M for a program to reduce the cost of solar power and other solar energy research and development (R&D);
- $550M for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to support the development of new energy technologies;
- $102M investment in geothermal energy;
- $341M for biofuels and biomass R&D;
- $95M for wind energy research;
- $853M for nuclear energy to include research into the development of modular nuclear reactors; and
- $453M for a fossil energy R&D portfolio focused on carbon capture and storage technologies.
The total of the above is roughly $8.3B.

When looking at the $90B of funding across all federal entities provided under the ARRA in CY2009, followed by an average of about $8B per year for the period FY2010-FY2017 under the Obama Administration, it is anticipated that the goal of investing $150B for clean energy technologies over 10 years (through FY2020), across all federal entities, will be attained.

This promise was fulfilled.