President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address last night didn’t dwell on it, but it touched on the one point that is essential for the U.S. economy to turn around. That is the problem of energy imports. The United States is running a chronic trade deficit mainly because about half of the country’s imports are energy. It will take a large investment to replace those imports with domestically generated energy, and the speech suggested that Obama is ready to get started on that, if not in a big way then at least in a decisive way, this year.
The memorable line from the speech was “How long should America put its future on hold?” That question applies most especially to the issue of energy. We don’t yet know how most of the energy we use can be generated locally, but we have some of the technology we need right now, and the longer we wait to put it into practice, the longer we will wait for the economic recovery that we are counting on to make so many other things possible.