Obama Visits Mass. to Promote Clean Energy, Support Governor Patrick

Filed in Featured, Headline, Local News by on October 23, 2009 1 Comment

In a speech delivered today at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, President Barack Obama touted the university’s research in renewable energy while framing the national push toward new energy technology as both an environmental and economic necessity.

The president said the changing landscape of energy production, with natural resources becoming scarcer, requires a global shift toward renewable energy. He then sought to allay concerns over how the recession will affect America’s global economic clout, saying that leading the way in the competition for new technology would ensure a continued strong standing in the world.

“The nation that wins this competition will be the nation that leads the global economy. I am convinced of that,” the president said. “And I want America to be that nation. It’s that simple.”

Citing energy advancements he’d witnessed at MIT—such as viruses grown to be used as batteries and window panes that harness light for energy—as well as the nation’s past technological achievements, Obama said innovation was a deeply American trait.Obama Graphic

“You just get excited being here and seeing these extraordinary young people…because it taps into something essential about America,” Obama said. “It is the legacy of daring men and woman who put their talents and their efforts into the pursuit of discovery. And it’s the legacy of a nation that supported those intrepid few wiling to take the risks on an idea that might fail, but that might also change the world.”

In highlighting the potential economic benefits to renewable energy, Obama sought to frame the debate as more than a purely environmental issue.

“This should not be a partisan issue. Everybody in America should have a stake in legislation that transforms our energy system into one that’s far more efficient, far cleaner, and provides energy independence for America.”

The decision to focus on a broad range of benefits could be crucial, as public concern over climate change appears to be waning. In a Pew Research poll released yesterday, only 57 percent of Americans said they believed the planet was getting warmer, down from 77 percent just three years ago.

With the nation still deeply dependent on foreign energy sources, Obama said a booming renewable energy sector in America would lead to better national security. By producing fuel at home, energy prices would not be prone to fluctuations caused by uncontrollable foreign factors.

The president also used the speech to highlight a central policy of his presidency that investment in renewable energy could jump-start the economy, creating thousands of jobs; the president’s first budget proposal included $150 billion in funding for green energy research.

Obama defended—sometimes jocularly, sometimes seriously—the economic stimulus bill passed earlier this year for its investments in new energy technology. In particular, he cited a $25 million grant for the recovery bill which helped fund a wind technology testing lab soon to be opened in Massachusetts. Then, in one of several nods to the man he is in the state to campaign for, Obama praised Governor Deval Patrick’s “leadership and vision” for making the project happen.

The speech was part of a one-day fundraising tour of New England by the President. Immediately following the address, Obama headed to a benefit for Governor Patrick at the Westin Copley Place. From there he will head to Connecticut for a fundraising dinner with Sen. Chris Dodd, who faces a stiff reelection campaign there.

Thanks to macwagen for the Obama graphic

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