CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts, October 23, 2009 (ENS) – Speaking today at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, President Barack Obama expressed his strong support for legislation to control climate change by limiting greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. Senate begins hearings on its version of a bill on Tuesday; the House passed its version back in June.
Obama said he is looking to Congress to pass “comprehensive legislation that will finally make renewable energy the profitable kind of energy in America.”
Praising Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, who co-authored the Senate bill with California Senator Barbara Boxer, the President said he is pleased that Kerry is reaching across the aisle to Republicans for support as “this should not be a partisan issue.”
“Everybody in America should have a stake in legislation that can transform our energy system into one that’s far more efficient, far cleaner, and provide energy independence for America,” President Obama said.
“Nations everywhere are racing to develop new ways to produce and use energy,” he said in remarks delivered to a packed Kresge Auditorium. “The nation that wins this competition will be the nation that leads the global economy. I’m convinced of that. And I want America to be that nation.”
He said America’s future energy system should make clean and efficient use of fossil fuel resources the country has in abundance, create “safe” nuclear power, sustainably grown biofuels; and then the energy that we can harness from wind and the waves and the Sun.”
President Barack Obama addresses students and faculty at MIT. (Photo courtesy MIT)
“It is a transformation that will be made as swiftly and as carefully as possible, to ensure that we are doing what it takes to grow this economy in the short, medium, and long term,” said Obama, adding, “And I do believe that a consensus is growing to achieve exactly that.”
“The naysayers, the folks who would pretend that this is not an issue, they are being marginalized,” Obama said, adding, “the closer we get, the harder the opposition will fight.”
Young people, he said, “understand that this is the challenge of their generation.”
Obama reiterated that the Recovery Act that his administration passed last winter makes the largest investment in clean energy in history, “not just to help end this recession, but to lay a new foundation for lasting prosperity.”
“The Recovery Act includes $80 billion to put tens of thousands of Americans to work developing new battery technologies for hybrid vehicles; modernizing the electric grid; making our homes and businesses more energy efficient; doubling our capacity to generate renewable electricity,”the President said. “These are creating private-sector jobs weatherizing homes; manufacturing cars and trucks; upgrading to smart electric meters; installing solar panels; assembling wind turbines; building new facilities and factories and laboratories all across America. And, by the way, helping to finance extraordinary research.
In fact, in just a few weeks, right here in Boston, workers will break ground on a new Wind Technology Testing Center, a project made possible through a $25 million Recovery Act investment as well as through the support of Massachusetts and its partners,” said Obama, praising Massachusetts Governor Patrick Deval for his support of renewable energy.
Before delivering his speech, the President was escorted by MIT President Susan Hockfield and MIT Energy Initiative Director Ernest Moniz on a tour of MIT laboratories that are conducting energy research.
“Extraordinary research [is] being conducted at this Institute,” Obama said, citing work that could lead to “… windows that generate electricity by directing light to solar cells; light-weight, high-power batteries that aren’t built, but are grown – that was neat stuff; engineering viruses to create – to create batteries; more efficient lighting systems that rely on nanotechnology; innovative engineering that will make it possible for offshore wind power plants to deliver electricity even when the air is still.”
“You just get excited being here, and seeing these extraordinary young people,” he said. “It taps into something essential about America,” he said, emphasizing that the nation has “always been about discovery. It’s in our DNA.”
In Washington, on Monday, Senators Kerry and Reid are scheduled to set a timeline for committees to complete their work on the climate change legislation.
Starting Tuesday, the Environment and Public Works Committee, chaired by Boxer, will hold three days of hearings about the pending climate change bill, including testimony from Cabinet secretaries of the Departments of Energy, Transportation, and Interior, the EPA administrator, and the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.