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Obama wants to invest in nuclear energy. Transcript.

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THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

For Immediate Release February 16, 2010

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

ON ENERGY

IBEW Local 26

Lanham, Maryland

11:05 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, everybody. Thank you. Please have a seat. Have a seat. Good morning, everybody. Before I begin let me just acknowledge some of the people who are standing behind me here: First of all, two people who have been working really hard to make this day happen -- Secretary Steven Chu, my Energy Secretary -- Steven Chu. (Applause.) And my White House advisor on everything having to do with energy, Carol Browner. (Applause.)

I want to acknowledge the outstanding governor of Maryland, Martin O'Malley, as well as his lieutenant governor, Anthony Brown. (Applause.) We've got Mark Ayers from the building trades, and Billy Hite from the UA Plumbers and Pipefitters -- give them a big round of applause. (Applause.) Gregory Jaczko, who's with the Nuclear Energy Commission, is here. Where is he? (Applause.) Ed Hill, president of IBEW International. (Applause.) And I want to thank Chuck Graham and everybody here at Local 26 for their great hospitality. (Applause.)

Thank you for the warm welcome. Thanks for showing me around. I was just mentioning that I got a chance to pull the first fire alarm since I was in junior high. (Laughter.) And I didn't get in trouble for it.

This is an extraordinarily impressive facility, where workers are instructed on everything from the installation of sophisticated energy hardware and software to the basics of current and resistance. We need to look no further than the workers and apprentices who are standing behind me to see the future that's possible when it comes to clean energy.

It's a future in which skilled laborers are helping us lead in burgeoning industries. It's a future in which renewable electricity is fueling plug-in hybrid cars and energy-efficient homes and businesses. It's a future in which we're exporting homegrown energy technology instead of importing foreign oil. And it's a future in which our economy is powered not by what we borrow and spend but what we invent and what we build.

That's the bright future that lies ahead for America. And it's one of -- it's a future that my administration is striving to achieve each and every day. We've already made the largest investment in clean energy in history as part of the Recovery Act -- an investment that is expected to create more than 700,000 jobs across America -- manufacturing advanced batteries for more fuel-efficient vehicles, upgrading the power grid so that it's smarter and it's stronger, doubling our nation's capacity to generate renewable energy. And after decades in which we have done little to increase the efficiency of cars and trucks, we've raised fuel economy standards to reduce our dependence on foreign oil while helping folks save money at the pump.

But in order to truly harness our potential in clean energy we're going to have to do more, and that's why we're here. In the near term, as we transition to cleaner energy sources, we're going to have to make some tough decisions about opening up new offshore areas for oil and gas development. We'll need to make continued investments in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies, even as we build greater capacity in renewables like wind and solar. And we're going to have to build a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in America.

That's what brings us here. Through the Department of Energy -- under the leadership of Nobel prize-winning physicist, Steven Chu -- although, just a quick side note: When he was talking to some of the instructors here, and they were talking about currents and this and that and the other, I indicated to him that he could have saved a lot of money. Instead of getting a Ph.D., he could have come here and learned some of the same stuff. (Laughter and applause.) You know, the instructors here were just keeping up -- they were right there with him.

But through the Department of Energy and Secretary Chu's leadership, we are announcing roughly $8 billion in loan guarantees to break ground on the first new nuclear plant in our country in three decades -- the first new nuclear power plant in nearly three decades. (Applause.)

It's a plant that will create thousands of construction jobs in the next few years, and some 800 permanent jobs -- well-paying permanent jobs -- in the years to come. And this is only the beginning. My budget proposes tripling the loan guarantees we provide to help finance safe, clean nuclear facilities -- and we'll continue to provide financing for clean energy projects here in Maryland and across America.

Now, there will be those that welcome this announcement, those who think it's been long overdue. But there are also going to be those who strongly disagree with this announcement. The same has been true in other areas of our energy debate, from offshore drilling to putting a price on carbon pollution. But what I want to emphasize is this: Even when we have differences, we cannot allow those differences to prevent us from making progress. On an issue that affects our economy, our security, and the future of our planet, we can't keep on being mired in the same old stale debates between the left and the right, between environmentalists and entrepreneurs.

See, our competitors are racing to create jobs and command growing energy industries. And nuclear energy is no exception. Japan and France have long invested heavily in this industry. Meanwhile, there are 56 nuclear reactors under construction around the world: 21 in China alone; six in South Korea; five in India. And the commitment of these countries is not just generating the jobs in those plants; it's generating demand for expertise and new technologies.

So make no mistake: Whether it's nuclear energy, or solar or wind energy, if we fail to invest in the technologies of tomorrow, then we're going to be importing those technologies instead of exporting them. We will fall behind. Jobs will be produced overseas, instead of here in the United States of America. And that's not a future that I accept.

Now, I know it's been long assumed that those who champion the environment are opposed to nuclear power. But the fact is, even though we've not broken ground on a new power plant -- new nuclear plant in 30 years, nuclear energy remains our largest source of fuel that produces no carbon emissions. To meet our growing energy needs and prevent the worst consequences of climate change, we'll need to increase our supply of nuclear power. It's that simple. This one plant, for example, will cut carbon pollution by 16 million tons each year when compared to a similar coal plant. That's like taking 3.5 million cars off the road.

On the other side, there are those who have long advocated for nuclear power -- including many Republicans -- who have to recognize that we're not going to achieve a big boost in nuclear capacity unless we also create a system of incentives to make clean energy profitable. That's not just my personal conclusion; it's the conclusion of many in the energy industry itself, including CEOs of the nation's largest utility companies. Energy leaders and experts recognize that as long as producing carbon pollution carries no cost, traditional plants that use fossil fuels will be more cost-effective than plants that use nuclear fuel.

That's why we need comprehensive energy and climate legislation, and why this legislation has drawn support from across the ideological spectrum. I raised this just last week with congressional Republican leaders. I believe there's real common ground here. And my administration will be working to build on areas of agreement so that we can pass a bipartisan energy and climate bill through the Senate.

Now, none of this is to say that there aren't some serious drawbacks with respect to nuclear energy that have to be addressed. As the CEOs standing behind me will tell you, nuclear power generates waste, and we need to accelerate our efforts to find ways of storing this waste safely and disposing of it. That's why we've asked a bipartisan group of leaders and nuclear experts to examine this challenge. And these plants also have to be held to the highest and strictest safety standards to answer the legitimate concerns of Americans who live near and far from these facilities. That's going to be an imperative.

But investing in nuclear energy remains a necessary step. What I hope is that with this announcement, we're underscoring both our seriousness in meeting the energy challenge and our willingness to look at this challenge not as a partisan issue but as a matter that's far more important than politics -- because the choices we make will affect not just the next generation but many generations to come.

The fact is changing the ways we produce and use energy requires us to think anew; it requires us to act anew; and it demands of us a willingness to extend our hand across some of the old divides, to act in good faith, and to move beyond the broken politics of the past. That's what we must do; that's what we will do.

Thank you very much, everybody. Appreciate it. (Applause.)

END 11:15 A.M. EST


6 Comments

Well, the cap and trade legislation and global warming debate is much more profound than what is being said.I had it wrong when it came to global warming. Before I thought it was too much, but after looking at this article I have come to the understanding that maybe, it is not so bad of an idea, and its really not about whether climate change exists or not.

http://bit.ly/globalwarmin

The President of Brazil: Lula, has a right to be a friend of Iran, Venezuela and North Korea

LULA largest state ONLY YOU CAN CONTROL IRAN

At present, only the greatest statesman Lula has this ability.
The first world bends to Lula!!

Brazil alone, or better, only Lula can contain and control the president of Iran
The presidents and negotiators from the USA and Europe, is unable to talk or hold the president of Iran
This ability is to Lula, the greatest statesman the world has ever seen.
Lula will once again the world to surrender and bow to their greater ability to statesman.
If the world want the president of Iran is more flexible and is no longer a threat, need to ask the administration.
You first world has to recognize that Lula is the only way to control Iran.
Accept it or not, and give your arm to twist and recognize that you are in the hands of the greatest statesman Lula makes you stoop to us.
You say that Lula struggles to be a friend of the President of Iran
Lula is right to be a friend of Iran and Venezuela to North Korea.
This is not the account of you, respect Lula and bow when he speaks.

Lula, the greatest statesman makes the world bow to him.
Lula will show the world that not Obama, not President of Europe have now the ability for Lula.

Swallow it !!!!!

Jonas Marques Lemos
Rio de Janeiro Brazil

Does anyone remember a film named 'Silkwood'? This came about long before the media-telecom industry--backers of Democratic campaigns--bought heavilly into the nuclear sector. Finally, the facade's fallen off: the whole Inconvenient Day After Truth global warming hysteria was nothing more than a ploy to make dirty, dangerous, costly nuclear energy respectable. The fact remains that nukes AREN'T safe, and have total life cycle costs that make them uncompeditive with fossil-fuelled plants, hence, the massive subsidies. And the question of waste disposal (both spent fuel and decomissioned reactor cores) has yet to be dealt with.

I am part of group of three that is preparing a presentation to the Department of Energy on a patented way to permanently dispose of high-level nuclear waste.

I would like to know how to contact any of the bipartisan group of leaders and nuclear experts who have to come up with a way to store or dispose of the nuclear waste.

We already have a very good way of doing just this.

The original House version of cap and trade did not contain any provisions for new nuclear plants, or renewed domestic oil drilling. He had it within his power to have influenced the House version months ago and did not choose to do so. I think this is a good idea, but only the truly dumb and misinformed would not see this as pure politics.

In the past decade Europe has installed 9000 Mw of wind energy and only 60 Mw of nuclear. Why do you suppose?

The average world growth in wind energy for the past 12 years is more than 28 percent per year. Nuclear has declined. Why do you suppose?

Building nuclear power stations is like paying to build a house, paying rent to live in it (the cost of fuel and maintenance), and finally being evicted after 30 years, with the obligation to pay for the dismantling of the house and then passing to future generations the obligation to continue paying indefinite further rent. It is an ongoing, open ended liability.

Renewables present the opportunity to build and own a home outright. This home will require a significant initial investment and take time to complete. But once built, the benefit of the infrastructure is free excepting maintenance costs.

In practical terms, there are 3 options for making major emissions reductions in the power sector out to 2020: Efficiency; Fuel switching from coal to gas; and renewables, mostly windpower and hydro.

The power sector is the largest source of GHG emissions - 38% of CO2, and about 25% of overall emissions. Wind energy is the most cost-effective and timely option on the supply side out to 2020: 2600 Twh/year. In terms of carbon avoidance, wind reduces 6 times more than nuclear, 1.5 billion tonnes/year by 2020. The nuclear fuel cycle, far from being carbon-clean, is roughly as emissions-laden as natural gas, which is better than coal but far worse than all the renewables.

What this is really all about is what this president, and the last one, would not tell us. That we are now at the global peak production of oil and it is all downhill from here. As petroleum geologist Colin Campbell wrote in March, 2002:

“Initially it will be denied. There will be much lying and obfuscation. Then prices will rise and demand will fall. The rich will outbid the poor for available supplies. The system will initially appear to rebalance. The dash for gas will become more frenzied. People will realize nuclear power stations take up to ten years to build. People will also realize wind, waves, solar and other renewables are all pretty marginal and take a lot of energy to construct. There will be a dash for more fuel-efficient vehicles and equipment. The poor will not be able to afford the investment or the fuel. Exploration and exploitation of oil and gas will become completely frenzied. More and more countries will decide to reserve oil and later gas supplies for their own people. Air quality will be ignored as coal production and consumption expand once more. Once the decline really gets under way, liquids production will fall relentlessly by 5%/year. Energy prices will rise remorselessly. Inflation will become endemic. Resource conflicts will break out.”

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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 16, 2010 11:18 AM.

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