Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora was the next-to-last stop on a whirlwind two-day tour for President Barack Obama, who hit the road to stump for the programs and policies laid out in Tuesday night’s State of the Union address.
Standing in front of an enormous American flag, the president delivered remarks to a crowd of about 400 military service men and women, dignitaries and students. The brief speech focused primarily on the energy components of his “Blueprint for America Built to Last” – his latest plan to get the country back on track to economic prosperity.
“For all our lives, America has been talking about decreasing our dependence on foreign oil. I’ve been hearing it – I’m older than most of you guys – I’ve been hearing it all my life. Well, my administration has actually tried to do something about it.” the president said. “Right now, American oil production is the highest it’s been in eight years. Eight years. Last year we relied less on foreign oil than any time in the past 16 years. Hasn’t gotten a lot of attention, but it’s important. We’re moving in the right direction when it comes to oil and gas production. But we’ve got to do a lot more.”
Colorado is one of five states hosting the president this week as he attempts to gather support for his latest proposal to boost growth, create jobs, and decrease U.S. dependence on foreign sources for energy. The growing economic disparity between the “haves” and the “have-nots” – a theme echoing the grievances at the heart of “Occupy” protests nationwide – is also taking front and center stage as the president attempts to revitalize belief in the promise of the American Dream.
“The defining issue of our time is how to keep that promise alive. No challenge is more urgent. No debate is more important,” explained the president during the State of the Union. “We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by. Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. What’s at stake are not Democratic values or Republican values, but American values. We have to reclaim them.”
A major step will include massive developments in the field of clean energy, which, the White House says, will “enhance our national security, protect the environment and public health, and grow our economy and create new jobs.” The president has recently praised military efforts to use clean energy, and Tuesday revealed a commitment by the Department of the Navy to add a gigawatt of wind, geothermal or solar-sourced renewable energy. Today, he lauded similar efforts at Buckley.
“In 2010, you started installing thousands of solar panels here on the base. That same year the Air Force flew an A-10 Thunderbolt entirely on alternative fuels, a first for the military. And, overall, the Air Force is on track to save $500 million dollars in fuel costs over the next five years because you’re changing the way you run their operations. “
The president briefly touched on the natural gas component of his energy plan, which surely will become a hot button topic in days to come, primarily due to the controversial method of extraction called hydro-fracking. Mr. Obama has mentioned the immense natural gas resources of the U.S. several times in recent days, and today took that a step further.
“We are the Saudi Arabia of oil — or Saudi Arabia of natural gas. We’ve just got to develop it, and if we do effectively, then we’re going to create jobs and it’s going to power trucks that are cleaner and cheaper and factories that are cleaner and cheaper.”
The final word on safe fracking, however, remains under debate. Colorado lawmakers recently passed legislation requiring disclosure of the chemicals used in fracking, with other states geared up to possibly follow suit.
Today’s speech, which clocked in at just about 15 minutes, was quite subdued. At one point, the president had to encourage applause – a stark contrast to the energy and enthusiasm of the crowd during his October 2011 appearance on DU’s Auraria campus. Today’s appearance marks the second time in four months Mr. Obama has stopped in Denver, and it likely won’t be the last. Colorado is a crucial swing state, and will play a major role in the upcoming election.
Air Force One departed Buckley AFB for a stop in Michigan before making its way home to Washington, DC.
The full text of the president’s remarks can be read here.
Side note: Of course, one of the best takes on the SOTU Address was by Jon Stewart. (C’mon, you think we could report on the president without including a Jon Stewart clip? Pffft. Everyone knows tax credits will restore the American Dream…)
Laura Keeney admits she originally became a professional music writer because she was too
cheap broke in college to pay for concert tickets. She’s obsessed with The Clash, loves classic bicycles, blogs for 303, and writes for the magazine’s print edition. She’s also ridiculously addicted to news and politics. Follow her on Twitter at @onnabugeisha.