For starters, the president did not even mention the words "climate change" or "global warming." This is stunning, given that he stressed climate change as critical during his presidential campaign.
Nor did he mention the BP oil spill. It was the biggest environmental disaster our country has ever seen, yet Congress has failed to pass any meaningful legislation in the wake of it. Apparently the 4.9 million barrels of oil that gushed into the Gulf of Mexico didn't make a big enough splash to be mentioned in the president's road map for the year.
What he did say about his energy policy was underwhelming.
Obama talked about the need for us to use more clean energy and said that he wants to double by 2035 the percentage of electricity that comes from clean energy. Yet his definition of clean energy includes sources that aren't clean at all -- from nuclear energy to coal, natural gas to biomass. We need to be straight about clean energy, which really means renewable energy.
In his address, Obama also failed to discuss energy efficiency, which must play a role in our energy use going forward.
We also must include protections for the poor. Obama's pending budget reportedly will slash $3 billion from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, a federal program that provides direct cash assistance to poor people to help them pay their utility bills. In today's economy, this program is critical.
Obama did lay out some beneficial energy plans in his speech. Since the beginning of his presidency, Obama has worked to cut oil subsidies. That's a no-brainer. We need to do that.
But for all the grand Sputnik talk, Obama's proposals lack bold ideas.
For instance, money should be dedicated to research and development for renewable energy technologies through a carbon tax or putting a price on carbon, which Obama has shied away from. How does the president suggest we pay for this? Canceling oil subsidies is a start, but it doesn't get us where we need to be.
No acknowledgment of the dire need to address climate change. Dirty energy sources touted as clean. A dramatic reduction in aid for the poor. This is the change the country voted for? Hardly.
C'mon, Mr. President. Come to your senses. Use your budget to advance a clean, renewable and efficient energy plan that will really ensure that we make progress. That's what we really need to win the future.
Tyson Slocum is director of Public Citizen's Energy Program.