Obama: “To create more of these clean energy jobs … means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America.”

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"Obama: “To create more of these clean energy jobs … means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America.”"

Gov. McDonnell (R-VA) responds by pushing Bush-Cheney-Palin energy plan

This year, I am eager to help advance the bipartisan effort in the Senate. I know there have been questions about whether we can afford such changes in a tough economy; and I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change. But even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy are [sic] the right thing to do for our future – because the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy. And America must be that nation.

Getting a bill passed won’t be easy, but Obama is clearly still committed to make it happen.

The President did not soft-pedal his support for climate action and clean energy jobs, as expected. Quite the reverse.

He could have avoided any mention of the science, as I’m sure many of his advisors wanted.

He could have given climate and clean energy a cursory mention, but he went out of his way to repeat the core message again and again and again.  Indeed, he used the phrase “clean energy” ten times:

Because of the steps we took, there are about two million Americans working right now who would otherwise be unemployed. 200,000 work in construction and clean energy. 300,000 are teachers and other education workers….

Next, we can put Americans to work today building the infrastructure of tomorrow. From the first railroads to the interstate highway system, our nation has always been built to compete. There’s no reason Europe or China should have the fastest trains, or the new factories that manufacture clean energy products….

Tomorrow, I’ll visit Tampa, Florida, where workers will soon break ground on a new high-speed railroad funded by the Recovery Act. There are projects like that all across this country that will create jobs and help our nation move goods, services, and information. We should put more Americans to work building clean energy facilities, and give rebates to Americans who make their homes more energy efficient, which supports clean energy jobs….

From the day I took office, I have been told that addressing our larger challenges is too ambitious – that such efforts would be too contentious, that our political system is too gridlocked, and that we should just put things on hold for awhile.

For those who make these claims, I have one simple question:

How long should we wait? How long should America put its future on hold?

You see, Washington has been telling us to wait for decades, even as the problems have grown worse. Meanwhile, China’s not waiting to revamp its economy. Germany’s not waiting. India’s not waiting. These nations aren’t standing still. These nations aren’t playing for second place. They’re putting more emphasis on math and science. They’re rebuilding their infrastructure. They are making serious investments in clean energy because they want those jobs….

Next, we need to encourage American innovation. Last year, we made the largest investment in basic research funding in history – an investment that could lead to the world’s cheapest solar cells or treatment that kills cancer cells but leaves healthy ones untouched. And no area is more ripe for such innovation than energy. You can see the results of last year’s investment in clean energy – in the North Carolina company that will create 1200 jobs nationwide helping to make advanced batteries; or in the California business that will put 1,000 people to work making solar panels.

But to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. That means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies. And yes, it means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America.

I am grateful to the House for passing such a bill last year. This year, I am eager to help advance the bipartisan effort in the Senate. I know there have been questions about whether we can afford such changes in a tough economy; and I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change. But even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy are [sic] the right thing to do for our future – because the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy. And America must be that nation….

[Yes, the grammatical error is in the distributed text, and he uttered the mistake, too.  And this is the most heavily vetted text in the universe.]

Kudos on the speech.  Now he’s got to act.

As I’ve said, if he really wants a bill, the President is going to have to do exactly what he did in Copenhagen  “” negotiate directly with leaders and iron out a deal with specific language.

Here’s the (brief) energy portion of the GOP response, from Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell:

Advances in technology can unleash more natural gas, nuclear, wind, coal, and alternative energy to lower your utility bills.

Here in Virginia, we have the opportunity to be the first state on the East Coast to explore for and produce oil and natural gas offshore.

But this Administration’s policies are delaying offshore production, hindering nuclear energy expansion, and seeking to impose job-killing cap and trade energy taxes.

Now is the time to adopt innovative energy policies that create jobs and lower energy prices.

If you want to look at the source of his text, see:

What do you think?

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35 Responses to Obama: “To create more of these clean energy jobs … means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America.”

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  2. People who invent perpetual motion machines should at least contemplate the abstract possibility of mastering basic English grammar prior to expecting anyone (in the English speaking world, anyway) to actually take them seriously.

    I believe it was Bertrand Russell who said, “one should have an open mind; but not so open that your brains fall out.”

  3. beefeater says:

    Gosh the speech I heard said…

    Increase nuclear energy, open up more offshore oil exploration, more clean coal, and oh by the way, lastly, wind solar and fairy dust.

  4. anniversary says:

    Renewable Energy – Electric Energy from Gravity Force
    http://knol.google.com/k/renewable-energy-electric-energy-from-gravity-force#

  5. Chris Winter says:

    More precisely: a new generation of nuclear plants, along with biofuels, and clean coal.

    The President mentioned that 2009 saw the largest investment in R&D ever (not sure I believe that) which led to plants building advanced batteries and solar panels. IIRC the solar-panel plant created 1,000 jobs. I don’t think wind power was mentioned at all.

    All in all I thought it was a very good speech — not flowery, but substantial, with the tone just right.

    My favorite line: “I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence…”

  6. chris says:

    He didn’t soft pedal? really? that first block quite looks pretty meek and submissive to me. “i know there have been questions”….”i know there are those who disagree” with the evidence…”but even if you doubt the evidence”….

    George Bush would never have used this self-depricating rhetoric. He didn’t care if rational, informed people doubted Iraq was hiding WMDs. He didn’t care if people thought we couldn’t afford a global war on terrorism. Bush didn’t try and placate his opponents. He simply laughed at them and acted as if they were irrelevant. AND it worked! He got a huge majority of Americans to support a ridiculous plan. Obama presents his agenda as if its a burden he’s putting on the American people. Bush made people feel like he was the Leader who could save the world. Until Obama and the Democratic Party stop worrying about what ignorant fools think of their plans, we’re all scr*wed. Self deprecation is not a leadership quality.

  7. EMTguy says:

    Does it not trouble anyone that subdued laughter and moaning followed the President’s invocation of ‘the overwhelming scientific evidence’?

  8. Dan B says:

    Chris;

    Democrats are wimps. – emoticon – resigned.

    Wimps. – emoticon = resigned.

    That guarantees their funding streams.

    VISION AND COJONES

    or is it:

    PRINCIPLES AND COURAGE?

    Do we still have the courage to risk our immediate future – being beaten tomorrow morning at the gas station by the mob gunning for the last drop of gasoline, or heat for their granny’s home?

    Or can we take the hard path?

    Hard: What you believe in. Your vision. Hooking up to a community that’s not perfect but is moving towards the economic transformation of the 21st Century?

  9. Jeff Huggins says:

    I only watched parts of the speech, and those parts didn’t excite me nearly as much as he excited me in the past.

    Maybe it was just my mood tonight, and maybe I’m concerned about actual effectiveness, not just words.

    Also, these chunks of text are disappointing to me. They aren’t strong, clear, or as well grounded as they could be.

    Although the economy and jobs matter a lot, of course, and overall competitiveness matters, the deeper, more human, and more urgent reasons to address the climate problem are the moral and human reasons, period. This speech seems to frame the whole thing in terms of money, money, money, money, and it’s weak, and it panders.

    What is genuine anymore?

    Sigh,

    Jeff

  10. glen says:

    EMTguy writes: Does it not trouble anyone that subdued laughter and moaning followed the President’s invocation of ‘the overwhelming scientific evidence’?

    There is a new report released today, “Climate Change in the American Mind” published jointly by Yale University and the George Mason University…

    http://www.climatechangecommunication.org/images/files/Climate_Change_in_the_American_Mind.pdf

  11. Roam Greek says:

    Obama is killing another 3 million jobs as soon as possible. Vote for cap and trad to speed it up. 8% unemployment comes when the whitehouse is cleaned out. Zoroes made a horrible investment

  12. Jeff McLeod says:

    That we must pander to the republicans to pass legislation that addresses what should be the most obviously bipartisan issue on the table is so discouraging, especially when all they want to do is water it down more and more. I hate the GOP. So much.

  13. Chris Dudley says:

    I thought the speech was pretty thematic and well done. He is not departing from his campaign position when he supports more oil drilling, more use of coal and more nuclear power but it is a very sad thing to hear it again. Last year we put in about 10.5 GW of wind and solar while oil investment is hampered owing to price volatility, coal mining declined owing to the recession and nuclear power looks set to lose reactors owing to complete incompetence and dishonesty. Why not point out the natural gas resource and its growing production rather than trotting out these dogs? Too bad the speech was marred in this way.

  14. joe1347 says:

    Great Speech and great to hear no back pedaling on climate change legislation. Sounds like the simple question now is whether the Republicans will support climate change legislation primarily in exchange for relaxed (unrestricted) regulations on offshore drilling (for imaginary oil).

  15. ken levenson says:

    It was a very good speech.

    With the lessons of the past year under his belt, my hope is that Obama can translate it into a very productive year. Lord knows we desperately need it.

  16. It's over says:

    #2 You’re right. It was an “oh, by the way” for wind…no mention of solar. The fairy dust will come up over the next week as Obama minions make their touting tour around the country

  17. It's over says:

    #11 Jeff, Jeff…as long as you’re down the vice trail of hate, you’ll need to expand it beyond the GOP. It’s the majority of American citizens whom you need to direct your hate at. Remember Scott Brown??

  18. ChicagoMike says:

    Chris:
    “George Bush would never have used this self-depricating rhetoric. He didn’t care if rational, informed people doubted Iraq was hiding WMDs. He didn’t care if people thought we couldn’t afford a global war on terrorism. Bush didn’t try and placate his opponents. He simply laughed at them and acted as if they were irrelevant. AND it worked!”

    While Bush’s rhetoric might have gotten results in the short-term, it was also highly divisive. By 2008, a large part of the country viewed him as pretty much the worst president ever. I sometimes feel frustrated with Obama for trying to engage with conservative Republicans who have no intention of compromising anything and wish he would just call them idiots and try to get something done. But when I hear a speech like this, it makes me want to believe that if we keep trying to reach across ideological lines, in the long run our politics may become less polarized so we can have a more rational discussion about solving our problems.

  19. SecularAnimist says:

    Joe wrote: “Gov. McDonnell (R-VA) responds by pushing Bush-Cheney-Palin energy plan”

    I turned off the TV in disgust when Obama started pushing the Bush-Cheney-Palin energy plan — build “a new generation” of nuclear power plants, offshore oil drilling, “clean coal”, biofuels (which means corn ethanol).

    And that was AFTER he granted legitimacy to the ExxonMobil-funded deniers who “don’t believe” the science.

    A major, major, big-time disappoinment.

  20. Jade in San Francisco says:

    SecularAnimist wrote: “I turned off the TV in disgust when Obama started pushing the Bush-Cheney-Palin energy plan”. Really? Did we watch the same speech? If you’ve been following the Presidents policy proposals, and the analysis of those policy proposals in the blog postings of Joe Romm over the years, you would know that this is nothing new. Please tell me that you’re not coming down with a case of ODS (Obama Derangement Syndrome). Please reference the link below.

    http://climateprogress.org/2008/07/10/the-cruel-offshore-drilling-hoax-part-1/

    The fact that the President threw the nuclear industry, coal industry, and oil and gas lobby a bone during the SOTU speech doesn’t change the fact that nuclear is too expensive, coal is too dirty, and off shore drilling can’t really do much of anything in terms of supply. He did mention clean energy a total of ten times, talked about energy efficiency and reaffirmed his support for a bi-partisan climate change bill. Your disgust at what the POTU said sounds like sour grapes to me.

  21. Alistair Montenegro says:

    The fear I have is palpable. We are on the path to destruction unless we immediately ban all automobiles, cows and especially humans, whom emit so much CO2 are going to kill us. Only the select few should survive, namely all those that undertand just how destructive climate change is.

    We can live in communes and only eat fruit and vegetables we grow and live in harmony with the polar bears, mountain lions and cougars who love us so. All cities should be destroyed and razed.

    R K Pachauri we’ll lead us from then on.

  22. SecularAnimist says:

    Jade wrote: “The fact that the President threw the nuclear industry, coal industry, and oil and gas lobby a bone during the SOTU speech doesn’t change the fact that nuclear is too expensive, coal is too dirty, and off shore drilling can’t really do much of anything in terms of supply.”

    And the fact that nuclear is too expensive, coal is too dirty and offshore oil drilling can’t do much of anything in terms of supply doesn’t change the fact that Obama proposes to squander billions of precious taxpayer dollars on all three of them, thereby depriving clean energy investment of those resources, and perpetuating the very technologies that are part of the problem.

    The question raised in my mind by Obama’s speech is: was he pandering (i.e. lying) to the coal, oil and nuclear corporations when he made that commitment, and his real intention is to build the clean energy future, or was he pandering (i.e. lying) to clean energy advocates when he talked (barely) about wind and solar, and his real intention is to build an energy future that is more to the liking of the coal, oil and nuclear corporations?

    It’s very sad when you have to hope that the President is lying to the bad guys, and not to the good guys.

    The fact is that the investment in coal, oil and nuclear power that Obama clearly stated we “must” make, is fundamentally incompatible with seriously addressing the climate crisis.

    What Obama should have said is that we need to phase out coal and oil as rapidly as possible, not perpetuate them with subsidies for the phony “clean coal” hoax and expanded, environmentally destructive offshore oil drilling; and that there is no point in investing in nuclear power because it is neither a necessary nor an effective solution to the climate crisis.

    But that would require standing up to wealthy, powerful corporations, and Obama doesn’t do that.

  23. JasonW says:

    #20: If you’re going to be trolling, then at least do it humourously. Or cleverly.

    Or, at the very least, try using coherent English.

    Sigh.

  24. WAG says:

    Question: can cap-and-trade be passed through reconciliation? Clearly it deals with the budget, since selling emissions permits would raise government revenues.

    [JR: No. It was explicitly removed from the budget.]

  25. Alistair Montenegro says:

    Obama needs to make changes by executive order if need be. He should immediately shut down GM and Chrysler unless they agree to only make electric cars.

    All drilling should be banned and the big oil co. execs put on trial for crimes against humanity.

  26. Alistair Montenegro says:

    JasonW says:
    January 28, 2010 at 11:28 am
    #20: If you’re going to be trolling, then at least do it humourously. Or cleverly.

    Or, at the very least, try using coherent English.

    Sigh.

    _______________________

    Jasthon,

    I am not trolling. I am adamant extreme measures must taken in order to get us back to an agrarian society where we can live peacefully with all the wild animals and ban all money.

    We can barter with the roots we’ll eat for sustenance. You and I can be friends and sing kumbaya with the other vegans. Tell stories to the one child permitted per 100 people.

    Rainbows all around!

    [JR: Too lame for words. Bye! Bye!]

  27. SecularAnimist says:

    Alistair Montenegro,

    [snip]

    Maybe your fellow Ditto-Heads think that drivel is funny, but real people don’t.

    [JR: Sorry, I've been busy. Drivel speaks for itself.]

  28. Chris Dudley says:

    #21,

    There is a much simpler possibility than having Obama lie to one group or the other. He could just be wrong. He could think that nuclear power can be safe. That is how he qualifies his support. He could think that oil drilling for a resource that is becoming much harder to get at can be done responsibly. That is how he qualifies his support. He could think that carbon capture and sequestration can work for coal. That is also what he is calling for. And, this is what he has been saying all along.

    Now, it is pretty clear that if we increase our use of nuclear power, then the way we end our use of it will be in reaction to a deadly accident at a poorly run plant such as Indian Point or Oyster Creek. And he does seem to understand that continuing to posses nuclear weapons means they will eventually be used. Why the cognitive dissonance? How about error?

    We do do deep water oil platforms already and they have been working so why can’t that be done again? Responsibly as he puts it? If we go after difficult oil, that means we are supporting a high price for oil and we are harming our independence when we do that. It is not an easy concept so he may just not get it.

    We put other kinds of garbage in the ground, why can’t we dump carbon dioxide that way? Seems simple, right? But, a little thought shows it won’t work given the better alternatives. But, he could have missed this as well.

    He is pretty much adopting his party’s platform on this so he is already relying on other people to do his thinking. So, you don’t really have to conclude dishonesty on his part from the speech.

  29. Dana says:

    I thought it was a great speech. He invoked the overwhelming scientific evidence, and pointed out that everyone should support investing in ‘green collar’ jobs even if they’re in denial about the science, because China is certainly investing in green technologies.

    He threw Republicans a bone with nuclear and offshore oil and clean coal, which are necessary to get enough votes to pass the bill. But the main focus was on green jobs, which was the right message.

    Well done. Now pass the damn bill.

  30. Jade in San Francisco says:

    SecularAnimist wrote: “Obama proposes to squander billions of precious taxpayer dollars on all three of them, thereby depriving clean energy investment of those resources, and perpetuating the very technologies that are part of the problem.” I’m sorry but that is perversely illogical fallacy.

    Firstly, the proposed investment in this triage allows the President to bring more Republican senators into the fold on passing climate change legislation in the Senate, thereby ensuring that we actually pass a a bill that puts a cap on GHG emissions.

    Secondly, saying that investing in all three of those somehow deprives clean energy investment of much needed resources is duplicitous. I suggest you read-

    http://money.cnn.com/2010/01/24/news/economy/stimulus_wind/index.htm

    and

    http://www.portfolio.com/business-news/2009/12/22/stimulus-spending-pays-off-for-renewable-energy/

    Lastly, at the end of day the proposed investments for nuclear, clean coal technologies, and oil/gas exploration by the POTU in his SOTU speech amount to mere pennies compared to the amount of revenue that will be generated by the new trillion dollar carbon-trading commodities market that will be brought into existence if the cap and trade provision in the climate change legislation passes the Senate. New markets equal new sources of government income, which will be used to fund more clean energy subsidies. End of story.

  31. Jade in San Francisco says:

    SecularAnimist wrote: “But that would require standing up to wealthy, powerful corporations, and Obama doesn’t do that.”

    I guess proposing a fee on the top 50 major banks to recoup the rest of the TARP money that was loaned to them doesn’t count as standing up to powerful corporations.

  32. chris says:

    well keep “believing” Chicaco Mike, if it makes you feel better. But the GOP has no intention of having “a more rational discussion” no matter how low the Dems bow down in deference. So what if George Bush was not popular by 2008? Should the Presidency be a popularity contest? Bush had an outrageous, irrational, ambitious goal: make Iraq a US colony. He achieved it. He never would have if he’d gone around saying things like “I know some of you doubt theta evidence we’ve presented on WMDs in Iraq, but…” He told Americans those weapons were absolutely, positively there, AND that we were all in grave danger if we didn’t find them. Obama, on the other hand, actually has a scientific “smoking gun” and he’s legitimizing doubters with his rhetoric. Its pathetic. Being president isn’t about being popular, or being honest, or embracing opposing viewpoints. It should be about getting things done. Maybe Obama will feel he we a better President than Bush when he leaves office because he didn’t lie or manipulate emotions to achieve his goals. But if being honest and accepting opposing viewpoints mean people die b/c they have no healthcare and the climate gets worse, then these are qualities I can do without.

  33. James Newberry says:

    Damn climate change and full fuel subsidies ahead. We can’t possibly stop global corporate fuel fascism now. We must use such strategies as hydralic fracturing and dynamite mountain destruction to keep the financial plutocrats in power. After all, they own all three branches of government. Besides, politicians don’t know clean energy from a hole in the ground.

    Thirty billion here, see how nice I am, and another tax credit there, this all makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? Don’t be upset if there are no orders since the big guys have all the money I gave them. You can eat dirt. But what ever you do, don’t touch the trillions of dollars the feds have been pouring into “fuels for fools,” like uranium and unearthed hydrocarbons. We love pouring money into the ground, and contaminating everything and everyone.

    (Where is my nuclear bailout bucket?)

  34. espiritwater says:

    I agree with Chris, #31 (above) and have often thought the very same thing. As dispicable as Bush was (and probably still is!), you have to say one thing for him: he was tough! If he had to lie, cheat, change the Constitution, whatever, he didn’t care; he got his agenda accomplished! I’m not saying Obama should copy him. But I do think Obama needs to decide what team he is on and stop trying to please everyone. He’s nice. I don’t want a nice president. I want an especially strong and courageous president. Our very civilization depends on it!

  35. ChicagoMike says:

    I think the point I was trying to make is that while divisive rhetoric might be successful in the short term, it’s no way to build a broad coalition to tackle long term problems like climate change. I think if Obama were to take a more combative tone, it would be harder for conservatives who are open to compromise (such as Lindsey Graham) to step forward.

    Besides, averting climate change isn’t the only reason for transitioning to a clean energy economy (energy independence, better air quality, rising fossil fuel prices). I think it’s smart to point out these other benefits to the many Americans who have been confused about the science of climate change by the denier industry.

    My biggest problem with Obama has been that he often makes compromises in policy up front in the hopes of attracting bi-partisan support, rather than negotiating compromises in exchange for support. The stimulus bill, for example, was smaller than what economists said was necessary and included lots of ineffective tax cuts, but it still didn’t get a single Republican vote in the house.