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Obama at Energy Department calls for new appliance standards

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THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

_________________________________________________________________

For Immediate Release February 5, 2009

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

TO DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY STAFF

U.S. Department of Energy

Washington, D.C.

12:12 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much. Well, it is a thrill to be here. Thank you, Secretary Chu, for bringing your experience and expertise to this new role. And thanks to all of you who have done so much on behalf of the country each and every day here at the department. You know, your mission is so important, and it's only going to grow as we transform the ways we produce energy and use energy for the sake of our environment, for the sake of our security, and for the sake of our economy.

As we are meeting, in the halls of Congress just down the street from here, there's a debate going on about the plan I've proposed, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan.

This isn't some abstract debate. Last week, we learned that many of America's largest corporations are planning to lay off tens of thousands of workers. Today we learned that last week, the number of new unemployment claims jumped to 626,000. Tomorrow, we're expecting another dismal jobs report on top of the 2.6 million jobs that we lost last year. We've lost half a million jobs each month for the last two months.

Now, I believe that legislation of such magnitude as has been proposed deserves the scrutiny that it has received over the last month. I think that's a good thing. That's the way democracy is supposed to work. But these numbers that we're seeing are sending an unmistakable message -- and so are the American people. The time for talk is over. The time for action is now, because we know that if we do not act, a bad situation will become dramatically worse. Crisis could turn into catastrophe for families and businesses across the country.

And I refuse to let that happen. We can't delay and we can't go back to the same worn-out ideas that led us here in the first place. In the last few days, we've seen proposals arise from some in Congress that you may not have read but you'd be very familiar with because you've been hearing them for the last 10 years, maybe longer. They're rooted in the idea that tax cuts alone can solve all our problems; that government doesn't have a role to play; that half-measures and tinkering are somehow enough; that we can afford to ignore our most fundamental economic challenges -- the crushing cost of health care, the inadequate state of so many of our schools, our dangerous dependence on foreign oil.

So let me be clear: Those ideas have been tested, and they have failed. They've taken us from surpluses to an annual deficit of over a trillion dollars, and they've brought our economy to a halt. And that's precisely what the election we just had was all about. The American people have rendered their judgment. And now is the time to move forward, not back. Now is the time for action.

Just as past generations of Americans have done in trying times, we can and we must turn this moment of challenge into one of opportunity. The plan I've proposed has at its core a simple idea: Let's put Americans to work doing the work that America needs to be done.

This plan will save or create over 3 million jobs -- almost all of them in the private sector.

This plan will put people to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, our dangerous -- dangerously deficient dams and levees.

This plan will put people to work modernizing our health care system, not only saving us billions of dollars, but countless lives.

This plan will put people to work renovating more than 10,000 schools, giving millions of children the chance to learn in 21st century classrooms, libraries and labs -- and to all the scientists in the room today, you know what that means for America's future.

This plan will provide sensible tax relief for the struggling middle class, unemployment insurance and continuing health care coverage for those who've lost their jobs, and it will help prevent our states and local communities from laying off firefighters and teachers and police.

And finally, this plan will begin to end the tyranny of oil in our time.

After decades of dragging our feet, this plan will finally spark the creation of a clean energy industry that will create hundreds of thousands of jobs over the next few years, manufacturing wind turbines and solar cells, for example -- millions more after that. These jobs and these investments will double our capacity to generate renewable energy over the next few years.

We'll fund a better, smarter electricity grid and train workers to build it -- a grid that will help us ship wind and solar power from one end of this country to another. Think about it. The grid that powers the tools of modern life -- computers, appliances, even BlackBerrys -- (laughter) -- looks largely the same as it did half a century ago. Just these first steps towards modernizing the way we distribute electricity could reduce consumption by 2 to 4 percent.

We'll also lead a revolution in energy efficiency, modernizing more than 75 percent of federal buildings and improving the efficiency of more than 2 million American homes. This will not only create jobs, it will cut the federal energy bill by a third and save taxpayers $2 billion each year and save Americans billions of dollars more on their utility bills.

In fact, as part of this effort, today I've signed a presidential memorandum requesting that the Department of Energy set new efficiency standards for common household appliances. This will save consumers money, this will spur innovation, and this will conserve tremendous amounts of energy. We'll save through these simple steps over the next 30 years the amount of energy produced over a two-year period by all the coal-fired power plants in America.

And through investments in our mass transit system to boost capacity, in our roads to reduce congestion, and in technologies that will accelerate the development of innovations like plug-in hybrid vehicles, we'll be making a significant down payment on a cleaner and more energy independent future.

Now, I read the other day that critics of this plan ridiculed our notion that we should use part of the money to modernize the entire fleet of federal vehicles to take advantage of state of the art fuel efficiency. This is what they call pork. You know the truth. It will not only save the government significant money over time, it will not only create manufacturing jobs for folks who are making these cars, it will set a standard for private industry to match. And so when you hear these attacks deriding something of such obvious importance as this, you have to ask yourself -- are these folks serious? Is it any wonder that we haven't had a real energy policy in this country?

For the last few years, I've talked about these issues with Americans from one end of this country to another. And Washington may not be ready to get serious about energy independence, but I am. And so are you. And so are the American people.

Inaction is not an option that is acceptable to me and it's certainly not acceptable to the American people -- not on energy, not on the economy, not at this critical moment.

So I am calling on all the members of Congress -- Democrats and Republicans, House and Senate -- to rise to this moment. No plan is perfect. There have been constructive changes made to this one over the last several weeks. I would love to see additional improvements today. But the scale and the scope of this plan is the right one. Our approach to energy is the right one. It's what America needs right now, and we need to move forward today. We can't keep on having the same old arguments over and over again that lead us to the exact same spot -- where we are wasting previous energy, we're not creating jobs, we're failing to compete in the global economy, and we end up bickering at a time when the economy urgently needs action.

I thank all of you for being here, and I'm eager to work with Secretary Chu and all of you as we stand up to meet the challenges of this new century. That's what the American people are looking for. That's what I expect out of Congress. That's what I believe we can deliver to our children and our grandchildren in their future.

Thank you so much, everybody. I appreciate it. Thank you. (Applause.)

END 12:21 P.M. EST


2 Comments

No thanks to more regulation. Global warming is still highly debated in the science field, why should we politicize it yet? Let alone let it cost us and our businesses millions of dollars till the debate is over. I see me paying more for appliances in this announcement. Quite frankly, it's depressing in leu of the 700 billion passed, the 32 billion child health care passed, the 900 billion proposed with no specifices~a blank check to play with. My children are going to pay for this and it is irresponsible of us to spend their money. History proves that governments cannot get economies out of recessions.
Why isn't Frank in jail for the Fannie Mae thing which spiraled the entire world into recession now is it? I'm sure there are others than Madoff. I have to pay for their mistake and they are not in jail. The government is so big and bloated it can't even provide basic services like jailing those who are responsible for peoples' retirement funds being halved in value in a matter of days. How can we expect it to do anything with the economy even remotely efficiently? It's a big joke. We can't even wait six months to see what the $700 billion will do?
This is the most absurd thing I have ever heard of in my entire life, knowlege of history, knowledge of other countries' politics/economy. We are going to have double digit unemployment and all they worry about it TV boxes, treating terrorists with kindness and aborting babies in other countries we get to pay for that too?!@#$%^&* What about the soon to fail social security with all the baby boomers or the Protection Act that congress won't pass for preventing terrorist actions on our territory? Immigration/borders? Cutting corporate and capital gains taxes~anything to help get the businesses hiring again but spending~no, please. Ohio has one of the highest corporate taxes in the nation and America has highest business taxes of the world. And some would rather bring in gambling for jobs...what about bringing down this extremely high tax (how'd it get so high). Common sense? Where do we find it in our politico?
Our education is 30th in the world. Why don't we copy Finland or a country that is top 5 like Japan copied our industrial strategies and became a world power after WWII? How many kids are going to graduate before we fix THESE problems?
I do go on a bit...I'll be quiet now, maybe. Please everyone who reads this, whether you agree with me or not, we have to let our congressmen know how we feel about every issue. I recommend with the ease of internet making notes of things you hear in the news that lack accountability or you disagree with as well as compliments to congressmen and send them with a quick note via snail mail or email. We need to be more active. We need less regulation and control so we have more liberty as Jefferson so eloquently said it differently long ago.

THE NEW PRESIDENT HAS GREAT IDEAS, IT'S TO BAD
SOME DON'T WANT TO LISTEN, THE COUNTRY IS IN DEBT
BUT THE PEOPLE OF AMERICA IN BULK ARE HURTING,
THE NEW STIMULUS PLAN IS THE ONLY WAY OUT!
THE RICH GUYS WANT TAX CUTS, AND THEY ALWAYS PUT
IN LITTLE DIGS ABOUT THE NOT SO RICH, JOBS ARE
BEING LOST DAILY, WE MIGHT HAVE COME HERE IN
DIFFERENT VESSELS, BUT WE ARE ALL IN THE SAME
BOAT NOW!
I KNEW JOHN MCCAIN WOULD REVEAL HIS TRUE SELF,
A LEOPARD DOESN'T CHANGE ITS SPOTS!
MICHAEL STEELE DOESN'T KNOW WHOM HE TRUELY
REPRESENTS!
THE STIMULUS PLAN WILL WORK, SOME JUST DON'T LIKE
THE NEW PRESIDENT, I HAVE BEEN FOR THE MAN FROM
DAY 1, BECAUSE I KNOW HE ISN'T A FAT CAT, LIKE
MADOFF AND THE SILVER SPOON GANG, HE IS A REGULAR
GUY WHO WROTE A BOOK, BUT DEEP DOWN INSIDE THE
NEW PRESIDENT IS REGULAR AS APPLE PIE, CALL YOUR
CONGRESSMAN AND SENATOR AND GET THE STIMULUS BILL
PASSED NOW, BEFORE WE SINK LIKE THE TITANTIC!

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on February 5, 2009 12:27 PM.

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