Mention of fuel sources in president’s speech pleases industry

President Obama’s mention of natural gas, clean coal and nuclear power as parts of the mix needed to fire the American industrial engine won applause from the energy industry Tuesday.

The president’s call for innovation during the State of the Union address also was “on target,” said U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo.

Obama, however, “drifted” away from needed emphasis on private enterprise, said Tipton, who attended his first of the annual addresses by the president to a joint session of Congress.

The problem was that Obama was “talking about government innovation driving the American economy,” Tipton said.

Nonetheless, said Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., “There was plenty in the speech for both political parties to rally around.”

Gretchen Nicholoff, president of the Western Colorado Congress, concurred, saying the organization liked “the overall tone of ‘We’re all in this together.’ “

Nicholoff, as well as others who watched the speech, acknowledged some skepticism, especially with regard to Obama’s likening of the nation’s challenges today to those of more than a half-century ago when the Soviet Union launched the first satellite.

“We question where the money is coming from for our ‘Sputnik moment,’ ” she said.

The organization welcomed the president’s call for more renewable energy, innovation and entrepreneurship and the elimination of tax incentives for the oil industry, Nicholoff said.

Diane Schwenke, president and chief executive officer of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, saw it similarly.

“It came across to me as, ‘I’m saying what I think you want me to say,’ ” Schwenke said.

While the president made overtures to business with a review of federal regulations aimed at eliminating those that are duplicative or unnecessarily discouraging to business, “The devil’s in the details,” Schwenke said.

“With all due respect to spurring innovation, what small business in Grand Junction has been telling me is that we have to deal with the regulatory overload and the tax overload,” she said.

“It appears the president was listening” when Gov. John Hickenlooper said in the New York Times magazine that the United States should be ‘drilling the daylights’ out of natural gas,” West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association Executive Director David Ludlam said.

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., pointed to Obama’s focus on jobs and the economy.

“A tax code that spurs a new wave of innovation and creates and keeps jobs in America must be central” to the nation’s economic recovery and the elimination of the nation’s debt, Bennet said.

Obama said some more conservative things as far as more conservative spending, “but I don’t think they had much substance,” said Gary Bailey, vice president of the Western Slope Conservative Alliance.

“When families across the country are reducing spending, he brought up more spending,” he said.

Udall commended Obama for vowing to sign no legislation containing earmarks, noting Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., with whom Udall sat, “jumped up and said, ‘I got to get up for this one.’ “

Bennet welcomed the president’s emphasis on education.

“It’s time to change the tone in Washington and start having a serious conversation about how to make our country more competitive, strengthen our public schools and slow our rising deficits and mounting debt,” Bennet said in a statement.


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