For a commonsense view, here's the libertarians at CATO with a statement so concise and meaningful that you should print it out and put it in your pocket to have ready when engaging liberals, protectionists, Buchananites, etc. Normally it's not good form to reproduce whole posts, but this demands an exception. (If you want more, follow the link and read the footnoted articles, too.)
"The President offered bracing new rhetoric about where he would like to take energy policy in the coming year, but he suggested little more than a bit more money for the same old programs that have failed in the past. In short, it reminds me of the metaphor about 'old wine in new bottles.'
"Regarding the rhetoric, it’s odd that the President would complain that America is 'addicted to oil.' Another way of putting it is that American consumers are attracted to the lowest cost sources of energy to meet their energy needs. It's a bit distressing to call that sensible inclination an 'addiction.'
"As far as the new subsidies for coal, wind, solar, nuclear, and ethanol energy are concerned, if those technologies have economic merit, no subsidy is necessary. If they don't, then no subsidy will provide it. Those subsidies have failed to produce economic energy in the past and there is little reason to expect that they will do so in the future.
"Nor is it the government's job to design automobiles. Although government funded R&D projects to redesign the internal combustion engine are nothing new, they have never amounted to anything. For instance, while the Clinton Administration was engaged in a similar undertaking called 'The Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles' and producing nothing of consequence, Japanese auto companies -- without significant government help -- were busy designing the hybrid powered engines that are now all the rage within the auto industry. When government ties to pick winners, it usually finds itself stuck with losers and often sets the entire domestic industry back.
"Finally, achieving the President's goal of reducing Middle Eastern oil imports by 75 percent would be economically meaningless. A supply disruption in the Middle East would increase the price of crude everywhere in the world no matter where or how it is produced.
"There is nothing really new in this speech as it pertains to energy except more money for old programs -- the political equivalent of the triumph of hope over experience."