President Obama has a new economic advisor, GE CEO Jeffrey R. Immelt, who will run Obama's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, succeeding Paul A. Volcker. Immelt has been an outspoken advocate for clean energy, which he views as a boon both to his company, which produces wind turbines and other energy infrastructure products, and for the economy. Obama wants the council to "focus its work on finding new ways to encourage the private sector to hire and invest in American competitiveness." That could mean a renewed focus on green jobs and a price on carbon.Immelt was an influential voice in USCAP, the coalition of business and environmental groups that tried to get a cap-and-trade bill through Congress. He has been quoted many times saying that a price on carbon will increase American competitiveness and help spark an energy revolution.
Immelt traveled with the President to India in November, when GE announced a $750 million order from India's Reliance Power for GE steam turbines.
Perhaps Immelt's influence will reignite the passion in the White House for comprehensive energy reform, including a price on carbon. A scan of Obama's top advisors reveals a cadre that are in favor of strong climate action, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, DOE Secretary Stephen Chu, and EPA head Lisa Jackson. The challenge of working with House Republicans remains, but Immelt should be another voice for action now.