President Barack Obama has conferred with more than a dozen oil, natural gas and clean-energy executives, as well as academic advisers, at the White House in advance of an energy-policy speech in Illinois next week, spokesman Josh Earnest said.
The meeting included Jim Hackett, chairman of Anadarko Petroleum Corp., the second-biggest U.S. independent oil and natural gas producer by market value; Lew Hay, chairman, NextEra Energy Inc., which sells energy from natural gas, wind and nuclear power sources; and Alex Laskey, president and co-founder, Opower Inc., a provider of energy-monitoring software.
It was billed as a meeting on Obama’s second term “clean energy agenda,” Earnest said. The president has highlighted clean energy and coping with climate change as priority issues.
“We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations,” Obama said in his inaugural remarks in January. “That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God.”
The White House announced today that Obama will travel March 15 to the Argonne National Laboratory, near Chicago, for a speech that will focus on energy and climate change, Earnest told reporters. The non-profit research laboratory is operated by the University of Chicago for the U.S. Department of Energy.
Other energy leaders in the White House meeting included Debra Reed, chief executive officer of Sempra Energy, a U.S. natural gas distributor; Terry Royer, president and chief executive officer of Winergy Drive Systems Corp., a maker of wind-turbine parts; Jeff Shaw, chief executive officer of Southwest Gas Corp., a natural gas distributor; Fred Smith, chairman, president and CEO of FedEx Corp., operator of the world’s largest cargo airline, and Cynthia Warner, chairman and chief executive officer of Sapphire Energy Inc., a producer of fuel from algae.
Since Obama took office, domestic oil and gas production has increased annually, energy production from renewable sources such as wind and solar has more than doubled, and emissions of carbon pollution have decreased, Earnest said at a White House briefing today.
The energy talks at the White House covered the role of natural gas in in the U.S. economy, new opportunities for renewable energy such as wind, solar and advanced biofuels, the importance of clean energy research and development, and increasing energy efficiency in homes and businesses.
Among other participants were Shirley Jackson, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and former chairwoman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Bill Ritter, a former Colorado governor and clean-energy advocate who’s director of Colorado State University’s Center for New Energy Economy, and Cass Sunstein, now a professor at Harvard Law School and former regulatory adviser at the White House Budget office in Obama’s first term. Sunstein is also a columnist for Bloomberg View.