Investment in Clean Energy Top Priority in US's Economic Future: President Obama

obama addressing congress photo

photo: White House/Pete Souza

In case you missed President Obama's address to the nation last night—as the White House blog points out it's not a State of the Union address—the President (again) laid out his vision of how investment in clean energy will be the catalyst in reviving the nation's economy. Nothing strikingly new, in terms of ideas presented (and what would you expect given his length of time in office so far), but it's still good to hear that energy policy is in the front of Obama's mind:After going through a recap of how we got into this financial mess in which he fairly evenly spread blame around, and thanking Congress for passage of the economic stimulus package, the President launched into what sort of investments we will have to make to move forward,

Economic Recovery Begins With Energy

We are a nation that has seen promise amid peril, and claimed opportunity from ordeal.  Now we must be that nation again.  That is why, even as it cuts back on the programs we don’t need, the budget I submit will invest in the three areas that are absolutely critical to our economic future:  energy, health care, and education.

It begins with energy.

We know the country that harnesses the power of clean, renewable energy will lead the 21st century.  And yet, it is China that has launched the largest effort in history to make their economy energy efficient.  We invented solar technology, but we’ve fallen behind countries like Germany and Japan in producing it.  New plug-in hybrids roll off our assembly lines, but they will run on batteries made in Korea.

Well I do not accept a future where the jobs and industries of tomorrow take root beyond our borders – and I know you don’t either.  It is time for America to lead again.

Thanks to our recovery plan, we will double this nation’s supply of renewable energy in the next three years.  We have also made the largest investment in basic research funding in American history – an investment that will spur not only new discoveries in energy, but breakthroughs in medicine, science, and technology.

We will soon lay down thousands of miles of power lines that can carry new energy to cities and towns across this country.  And we will put Americans to work making our homes and buildings more efficient so that we can save billions of dollars on our energy bills.

Congress, Send Me Cap-and-Trade Legislation
But to truly transform our economy, protect our security, and save our planet from the ravages of climate change, we need to ultimately make clean, renewable energy the profitable kind of energy.  So I ask this Congress to send me legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution and drives the production of more renewable energy in America.  And to support that innovation, we will invest fifteen billion dollars a year to develop technologies like wind power and solar power; advanced biofuels, clean coal, and more fuel-efficient cars and trucks built right here in America.

We Can't Walk Away From the Automobile
As for our auto industry, everyone recognizes that years of bad decision-making and a global recession have pushed our automakers to the brink.  We should not, and will not, protect them from their own bad practices.  But we are committed to the goal of a re-tooled, re-imagined auto industry that can compete and win.  Millions of jobs depend on it.  Scores of communities depend on it.  And I believe the nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it.

Frankly this is the only part of this excerpt that bugs me. While recognizing that the automobile will be with us in one form or another for a while, to say that we cannot walk away from it fails to acknowledge that perhaps we should create and adequate public transportation system and build our towns in ways that encourage people to walk away from their cars. And while Obama couldn't tell the Detroit automakers to f-off in this speech (nor less auto workers...), he at least could've mentioned alternatives to the auto as part of the solution.

Read all of the President's speech: Remarks of President Barack Obama, Address to Joint Session of Congress or en español: Declaraciones del Presidente Barack Obama, Discurso ante Sesión Conjunta del Congreso
Obama, Clean Energy
How Obama's Plan to Double Alternative Energy Will Work
Barack Obama Faces Environmental Clean Up After Two Centuries of Bingeing: Bill McKibben
Who's Who on Obama's Green Team: Stephen Chu, Secretary of Energy

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