Obama's 'all of the above' plan means nothing

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the southern site of the Keystone XL pipeline on March 22, 2012 in Cushing, Okla. Obama is pressing federal agencies to expedite the section of the Keystone XL pipeline between Oklahoma and the Gulf Coast.

Kai Ryssdal: The visuals for the president's speech today in Cushing, Okla., were pretty good. Piles of big green pipes that'll eventually become part of the Keystone XL pipeline. Neat little pivot from the acres of solar panels we were sitting amidst yesterday.

Unlike solar, though, Keystone's controversial, a political flash point for environmentalists who want it stopped before it starts and Republicans in Congress who want the jobs it'll bring.

Commentator Bill McKibben says the president's all of the above energy strategy -- oil and renewables -- is missing a certain something.


Bill McKibben: The president made what could have been a landmark speech today in Cushing, Okla.

It came amidst a completely unprecedented March heatwave -- 3,500 high temperature records this week. Cities like Chicago were the hottest since record keeping began in the 19th century. It came on the tail of another record: 2011's record for multi-billion dollar weather disasters in America.

In other words, if there was a moment for talking about global warming, this would be it.

But the president didn't.

Instead, he focused on his "all of the above" energy policy. About how America has drilled a record number of oil and gas wells during his administration. How we've laid enough pipeline to encircle the earth. About how he wants to lay some more -- in particular the southern half of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which will bring oil from Canada's tar sands to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico.

But "all of the above" is definitely not a coherent energy policy.

Burning all the oil you can and then putting up a solar panel -- or even a solar farm -- is like drinking six martinis at lunch and then downing a VitaminWater on the way to your car. You're still drunk. You're still a danger to yourself and others. You've just got a few extra vitamins in you.

Think about it, if a presidential candidate said they had an "all of the above" foreign policy, where every other nation was an equal ally, they'd be thought silly. And dangerous. And they would be.

But with energy -- with $5 gas looming -- it apparently seems politic to insist we need never make a choice.


Ryssdal: Bill McKibben is the head of the environmental group 350.org. His most recent book is called "Eaarth."

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