What Obama Didn't Say While Making a "Climate Bill" Part of the Jobs Pitch

"Copenhagen"? Omitted. His pledge of "17% by 2020"? No mention. Even "cap and trade" was left on the cutting-room floor for tonight's State of the Union address, if it was ever in there. In a speech squarely focused on jobs, Obama framed the climate bill as an essential element of an economic growth effort. Last year in his address to Congress, he called for a "market-based cap," but this year he used vaguer language: a "comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives." Does his language suggest a willingness to sign a less forceful bill, as some in the Senate want? Perhaps. At the very least, it makes clear that Americans building solar panels and windmills will be the images Democrats will try to project as they push for a grand compromise in the Senate. And he included nods toward elements of that deal that would appeal to key fencesitters: nuclear power and offshore energy (the South), biofuels (farm states), and clean coal (rust belt):

But to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. That means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies. And yes, it means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America.

I am grateful to the House for passing such a bill last year.

This year, I am eager to help advance the bipartisan effort in the Senate. I know there have been questions about whether we can afford such changes in a tough economy; and I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change. But even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our future—because the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy. And America must be that nation.