Yes We Will(!) Lead the Clean Energy Economy of Tomorrow

This afternoon President Obama delivered an energizing speech to students and faculty of MIT on the need for the United States to draw on its “legacy of innovation” in transitioning to a clean energy future. We are engaged in a “peaceful competition” to develop the technologies that will drive the future global energy economy and he wants to see the U.S. emerge as the winner. The President further declared that in making the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, we can lead the world in “preventing the worst consequences of climate change."

After citing the ongoing efforts of his Administration on this front, including the $80 billion in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (a.k.a the “Stimulus Package”) for clean energy, he talked about what’s needed next – comprehensive legislation to transform our energy system.  He noted that this should include sustainable use of biofuels, safe nuclear power, and more use of renewables like wind and solar technology, all while growing the U.S economy. And he applauded Senator Kerry – also in attendance for the speech – for his work with Senator Boxer on their legislation.

Although he acknowledged there are still forces we need to overcome (denialism on the science and pessimism on actually getting something done), it's hard not to be optimistic hearing the President list the elements of the consensus he believes is building:

  • the Pentagon now sees our dependence on foreign energy as a security threat;
  • young people view this issue as THE challenge of their generation;
  • businesses and environmental groups are standing together in a call for action;
  • the House recently passed clean energy legislation;
  • and a bipartisan dialogue has emerged from the Senate.

I applaud the President’s speech – this is exactly the kind of optimistic leadership we need going into the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s hearings on the Kerry-Boxer bill next week.

Heather Holsinger is the Senior Fellow for Domestic Policy