Thursday, January 26, 2012

Obama's Back in Vegas

So the President is here. Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman (I) greeted him at McCarran Airport last night. And despite her husband not always giving President Obama a warm welcome, she obviously displayed far better manners than Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R-WTF??!!).

Goodman briefly discussed housing with Obama last night after HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan came to town to discuss new relief efforts for distressed homeowners that the President announced in his State of the Union Address on Tuesday. Apparently, more details will be coming soon... And local officials can hardly wait for that.

Later today, President Obama will be pivoting to matters of energy security and efficiency when he visits UPS' Las Vegas hub near McCarran this afternoon.

The president’s energy plan, which he introduced in Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, has three core components: the safe and responsible development of oil and gas, the creation of clean-energy jobs in the U.S., and increasing energy efficiency, with a special focus on the industrial sector.

That begins at the UPS facility in Las Vegas. The company, in cooperation with local governments and the South Coast Air Quality Management District, won a $5.6 million cost-share investment through the stimulus bill to purchase a fleet of trucks that could run on liquefied natural gas (LNG is a cleaner-burning fuel than regular gas or diesel) and construct a publicly accessible LNG refueling station — the first of its kind in the country.

The natural gas-fueled corridor allows UPS to move merchandise through more energy-efficient engines from Long Beach, Calif., to Salt Lake City, according to senior White House advisers.

It’s a model the president wants to replicate in other areas of the country as well, primarily by upping the incentives to get the country’s transport vehicles off gasoline.

Natural gas has become a focus of this administration, as well as lawmakers and energy advocates of all political stripes, not only because it burns about 30 percent cleaner than petroleum products, but also because it’s far more plentiful than oil in the United States. And, it’s cheaper.

The president aims to begin raising consumption of natural gas by encouraging companies to invest in trucks that run on natural gas with a tax credit, equivalent to about 50 percent of the cost difference between trucks that have engines that run on natural gas versus the standard diesel engine. Implementing such tax credits, senior White House advisers admitted, would require an act of Congress.

As we discussed on Tuesday, natural gas offers opportunities for cheaper, cleaner, and more domestically sourced fuel. Again, natural gas isn't without its own set of problems. But considering its availability and it not being as dirty as traditional oil or coal, it can be useful as a "transition tool" while we're still finding more ways to use renewables.

And of course, there's the possibility of more job creation out of this. And along with housing, jobs is the other big issue Nevadans want to hear about. We'll have to see how Obama threads it all together in his speech this afternoon.

1 comment:

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