The NCSL Blog


By Melanie Condon

As stated in Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution, the President “shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the State of the Union.” This time came again on Jan. 28, when President Obama addressed a joint session of Congress to present his state of the union. State legislatures received multiple shout outs from the president when he asked “...every mayor, governor and state legislator in America...” to not wait for Congress to act, and publicized partnerships with legislatures on a wide range of issues.

Within the speech the president touched on a number of issues relevant to natural resources and infrastructure policies.

Specifically, the president said he would work to facilitate efficient federal permitting for infrastructure projects and asked Congress to finish work on the transportation and waterways infrastructure bills – the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), and the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), respectively— that are currently in need of reauthorization.

Additionally, he announced new incentives for medium and heavy-duty trucks to switch to natural gas and/or alternative fuels. Speaking of natural gas, the president touted the importance of the fuel in the domestic energy industry, calling it a “bridge fuel” to limit carbon pollution. He also pledged to help states build new natural gas powered factories. He alsH

Clean energy was another theme present in last night’s speech, with the president noting that “over the past 8 years, the United States has reduced our total carbon pollution more than any other nation on Earth.” The president said he will build on this success by setting higher fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks. He also mentioned the recent standards introduced by the Environmental Protection Agency on greenhouse gas emissions standards from power plants.

Some other themes that were addressed in last night’s speech included: protecting federal lands; investments in high-tech and energy efficient manufacturing; working with state and local governments to ensure safe shale gas production; and reducing barriers in international agreements to sell clean energy technology.

State of the Union Transcript
White House Fact Sheet

Melanie Condon is an NCSL policy associate who works with the Natural Resources and Infrastructure Committee.


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This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.