Obama calls for energy independence

In a speech on 26 January, US President Barack Obama called for US energy independence whilst further outlining his plans for renewables and the environment.

Acknowledging the threat of climate change, Obama said: “Embedded in American soil, in the wind and the sun, we have the resources to change. Our scientists, businesses and workers have the capacity to move us forward. It falls on us to choose whether to risk the peril that comes with our current course or to seize the promise of energy independence. And for the sake of our security, our economy and our planet, we must have the courage and commitment to change.”

Obama is aware that there is no quick fix, however: “No single technology or set of regulations will get the job done.”

The President has previously made statements about the creation of almost half a million new jobs in relation to renewable and ‘clean’ energy, and the doubling of alternative energy generation capacity as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, which recently passed the House of Representatives.

Obama’s speech on 26 January also promised the building of 3,000 miles of transmission lines to deliver renewable energy across the country. He also repeated his pledge that his measures could “save taxpayers US$2 billion a year by making 75% of federal buildings more efficient.”

States to lead the way

In a kick to the previous administration, Obama said: “The federal government must work with, not against, states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

He was referring to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) denial of the Californian waiver request for cutting motor vehicle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30% by 2016, a decision he has ordered the EPA to review.

“California has shown bold and bipartisan leadership through its effort to forge 21st-century standards, and over a dozen states have followed its lead. But instead of serving as a partner, Washington stood in their way.

“My administration will not deny facts; we will be guided by them. We cannot afford to pass the buck or push the burden onto the states.”

Envoy for Climate Change appointed

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has already picked Todd Stern as her envoy for climate change. Stern took part in the Kyoto Protocol negotiations from 1997 to 1999.

Stern will be the Obama Administration’s principal adviser on international policy and strategy as well as the chief climate negotiator.

“Containing climate change will require nothing less than transforming the global economy from a high-carbon to a low-carbon energy base,” Stern was quoted as saying by the BBC. “But done right, this can free us from our dependence on foreign oil and become the driver for economic growth in the 21st century.”

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