Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Obama's 2012 State of the Union Address to Focus on Clean Energy

Expect clean energy to be one focus of President Barack Obama’s 2012 State of the Union address tonight - January 24, 2012 - his third since taking office in January 2009.

In a YouTube video posted on Saturday, Obama previewed his “blueprint for an economy that’s built to last.”


Among the things Obama plans to talk about during his 2012 State of the Union address:  

  • American manufacturing with more good jobs and more products stamped ‘Made in America’
  • American energy fueled by homegrown and alternative energy sources
President Obama has made clean energy and the environment a major sub-theme of his reelection campaign ever since announcing his decision to turn down the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline last week. It’s a theme that is prominent in his campaign’s first TV ad of the 2012 election.


“Secretive oil billionaires attacking President Obama with ads fact checkers say are ‘not tethered to the facts’ while independent watchdogs call this President’s record on ethics ‘unprecedented’,” the ad states. “And America’s clean energy industry: 2.7 million jobs and expanding rapidly. For the first time in 13 years, our dependence on foreign oil is below 50 percent.”

The 2.7 million jobs number comes from a 2011 Brookings Institute report, Sizing the Clean Economy: A National and Regional Green Jobs Assessment. Factcheck.org correctly notes many of these green jobs were around before Obama entered the White House, while acknowledging the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 “no doubt goosed clean energy employment.” Of course, what researchers Brookings Institute actually counted were jobs across the entire green economy, not just the clean energy sector. Their most impressive finding was that the wider clean economy employs more workers than the fossil fuel industry. 

Getting specific, President Obama takes credit for supporting more than 224,000 clean energy jobs in an online posting celebrating his decision to reject the Keystone XL oil pipeline.


“And the idea, as some in Washington have tried to suggest, that building a pipeline is the ultimate answer to the question of American energy security and job creation is nothing more than a pipe dream,” Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, wrote in a recent op-ed published in USA Today. "The truth is that just two of the Administration’s programs – the DOE Loan Guarantee Program and the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards – will create more than 10 times the amount of jobs generated by the Keystone XL pipeline, which will only generate a few thousand temporary jobs."

During his 2011 State of the Union address, Obama talked extensively about clean energy:

This is our generation’s Sputnik moment. Two years ago, I said that we needed to reach a level of research and development we haven’t seen since the height of the Space Race.  And in a few weeks, I will be sending a budget to Congress that helps us meet that goal.  We’ll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology -– (applause) -- an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.
Already, we’re seeing the promise of renewable energy. Robert and Gary Allen are brothers who run a small Michigan roofing company. After September 11th, they volunteered their best roofers to help repair the Pentagon. But half of their factory went unused, and the recession hit them hard. Today, with the help of a government loan, that empty space is being used to manufacture solar shingles that are being sold all across the country. In Robert’s words, “We reinvented ourselves.” 
That’s what Americans have done for over 200 years: reinvented ourselves. And to spur on more success stories like the Allen Brothers, we’ve begun to reinvent our energy policy. We’re not just handing out money. We’re issuing a challenge. We’re telling America’s scientists and engineers that if they assemble teams of the best minds in their fields, and focus on the hardest problems in clean energy, we’ll fund the Apollo projects of our time.
At the California Institute of Technology, they’re developing a way to turn sunlight and water into fuel for our cars. At Oak Ridge National Laboratory, they’re using supercomputers to get a lot more power out of our nuclear facilities. With more research and incentives, we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels, and become the first country to have a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.  
We need to get behind this innovation. And to help pay for it, I’m asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. I don’t know if -- I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but they’re doing just fine on their own.  So instead of subsidizing yesterday’s energy, let’s invest in tomorrow’s.
Now, clean energy breakthroughs will only translate into clean energy jobs if businesses know there will be a market for what they’re selling. So tonight, I challenge you to join me in setting a new goal: By 2035, 80 percent of America’s electricity will come from clean energy sources. 
Some folks want wind and solar. Others want nuclear, clean coal and natural gas. To meet this goal, we will need them all -- and I urge Democrats and Republicans to work together to make it happen.  

Watch video of President Obama's 2012 State of the Union address live online at:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/state-of-the-union-2012

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