Energy Security: At first glance, Obama's record on "achieving true energy security" doesn't look so hot. The most glaring failure is his inability to get a cap and trade bill through Congress and do much of anything on climate change. At the very least Obama has hardly talked a big game on the need to deal with global warming (although he's offered hints that this will be on the top of his agenda in a second term). But on deeper inspection, Obama's record stands up to scrutiny.
For example, I asked Michael Grunwald, a correspondent at Time magazine and author of The New New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era, which looks at the impact of the president's stimulus bill, for his take on Obama's green energy record. He said to me that "during the campaign, everyone said Obama was pandering to the greens by promising to spend $150 billion on clean energy over 10 years. And then he got three-fifths of the way there during his first month." In fact, the stimulus bill, which passed in the first weeks of his administration poured $90 billion into clean initiatives, and leveraged another $100 billion in private finance. The result, in part, is a jump in use of renewable energy sources. In fact, according to David Roberts at the Grist, an environmental website, "installed wind and solar have doubled in the U.S. since Obama took office." There have also been a ratcheting up of CAFE standards for automobile manufacturers and greater government subsidies to encourage energy efficiency.
While it did little to make greens happy, Obama also allowed for expanded off-shore drilling among other steps to increase domestic energy production. While these developments will seem little comfort when one considers that much of the country is experiencing drought conditions and the global warming continues its inexorable advance, credit must be given where credit is due. While the United States still relies on foreign oil, the trend is moving in a very different direction than it was just a few years ago. By one estimate, the United States will cut in half its reliance on Middle Eastern oil by 2020 and realistically could end it altogether by 2035. Now to be fair, all of the credit for these advances cannot be given completely to Obama -- many of them began before he took office. Still, his policies have not stood in the way, and if anything have sped them along.
All in all, while Obama has not completely upheld his campaign promises on energy policy -- he's come a lot closer than likely anyone would have expected.