Likely themes include:
- Climate change. Last year, President Obama urged Congress to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change. When Congress did not act, the Obama administration proposed new limits on carbon emissions from new and existing power plants. While the regulations implementing these limits remain on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's drawing board, next week's speech may shed new light on the Obama administration's climate change plans.
- Renewable energy. The Obama administration has pushed for increases in the production and consumption of renewable energy in the U.S. On the production side, the Department of the Interior has highlighted the development of renewable energy resources on federal lands and waters as a regulatory priority for 2014. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management held the first competitive auctions for leases for offshore wind project sites last year, with additional auctions expected in 2014. On the consumption side, in December President Obama ordered the federal government to use renewable sources for 20 percent of its electricity by 2020.
- Natural gas. The production of natural gas from unconventional resources such as shale plays has revolutionized the U.S. energy economy. Compared to other fossil fuels, natural gas is widely considered to be more environmentally benign. Readily dispatchable natural gas-fired power plants can be a powerful complement to renewable resources, balancing out variations in power production from intermittent resources like wind. At the same time, the low cost of producing natural gas domestically is driving interest in exporting gas through pipelines and liquefied natural gas or LNG export terminals.
- Oil. As with natural gas, unconventional oil resources have similarly revolutionized the U.S. energy economy. In recent years, the U.S. has become a net exporter of oil, gasoline, and other petroleum fuels. Meanwhile, the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would increase shipments of Canadian oil to U.S. refineries, but the project relies on federal approvals that remain pending.
- Energy efficiency. President Obama has supported increases in energy efficiency in homes, industry, and transportation. In his 2013 State of the Union, he proposed to cut in half the energy wasted by our homes and
businesses over the next twenty years. Energy efficiency continues to be a popular theme.