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Obama demands clean standards, tax credits, in State of Union

Date
25 January 2012
Obama demands clean standards, tax credits, in State of Union

WASHINGTON DC: President Obama called on Congress to ramp up the country’s use of clean energy to spur growth in the US economy, in his State of the Union Address last night.

In the annual speech which was delivered to Congress on Capitol Hill, Obama began by stressing North America’s limited traditional energy sources as a reason to urgently advance an energy policy that is "cleaner, cheaper, and full of new jobs".

Obama outlined a number of clean energy policies he’d like Congress to pass, including a national clean energy standard – which would require the United States to produce 80% of its electricity from clean energy by 2035 – and the extension of tax credits for renewable energy set to expire at the end of the year. Vestas, the world’s largest turbine manufacturer, has said it is likely to cut 1,600 jobs in the US if the incentive is not extended.

He highlighted how these policies have already driven large-scale clean energy and technology adoption and boosted jobs: "In three years, our partnership with the private sector has already positioned America to be the world’s leading manufacturer of high-tech batteries. Because of federal investments, renewable energy use has nearly doubled, and thousands of Americans have jobs because of it."

Obama then set the case for further support of US clean energy policy: "[…] I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China or Germany because we refuse to make the same commitment here." He demanded "double-down" action on "a clean energy industry that never has been more promising", before ending the segment with the resolute:  "Pass clean energy tax credits. Create these jobs."

As well as subsidies, Obama urged energy innovation through new incentives: "[…] So far, you [congress] haven’t acted. Well, tonight, I will. I’m directing my administration to allow the development of clean energy on enough public land to power 3 million homes. And I’m proud to announce that the Department of Defense, working with us, the world’s largest consumer of energy, will make one of the largest commitments to clean energy in history – with the Navy purchasing enough capacity to power a quarter of a million homes a year."

Energy efficiency was also emphasized by Obama as the "easiest way to save money". He proposed: "Help manufacturers eliminate energy waste in their factories and give businesses incentives to upgrade their buildings. Their energy bills will be $100 billion lower over the next decade, and America will have less pollution, more manufacturing, more jobs for construction workers who need them."

Evan Juska, Head of US Policy, The Climate Group, says of Obama’s call to Congress: “There’s good reason to believe that if Obama is re-elected in November, he will make a renewed push to pass clean energy policy, this time in the form of a clean energy standard, as opposed to cap and trade.  The success of this effort will of course depend on whether Congress is willing to cooperate with him, which they haven’t in the past.  But there’s reason for some optimism around clean energy policies in the next Congress.”  

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