President Obama Calls for Greater Renewable Energy Use

President Barack Obama was sworn in yesterday, and his inaugural address called for the expanded use of renewable energy to meet the twin challenges of energy security and climate change.

Noting that “each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet,” President Obama looked to the near future, saying the United States will “harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.” Those were the first references ever to our nation’s energy use, to renewable resources and to climate change in an inauguration speech of a U.S. president. President Obama later circled back to the subject of climate change, proclaiming that “with old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to…roll back the specter of a warming planet.”

As the president was being sworn in, the newly revised White House website went live, and it prominently features President Obama’s agenda for energy and the environment. The president’s New Energy for America plan calls for a federal investment of $150 billion throughout the next decade to catalyze private efforts to build a clean energy future. Specifically, the plan calls for renewable energy to supply 10 percent of the nation’s electricity by 2012, rising to 25 percent by 2025. The plan also calls for deploying energy efficiency, including the weatherization of 1 million homes each year. It also calls for an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to achieve an 80-percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. And to help meet that goal, the plan sets a target of placing 1 million plug-in hybrid cars on the road by 2015, along with a national standard to reduce the carbon emissions from our motor fuels. To help meet the plug-in hybrid goal, the plan calls for a new $7,000 tax credit for those who purchase advanced vehicles.

The Senate also acted swiftly following the inauguration. In a brief session, the senators confirmed the nominations of Steven Chu as secretary of energy, Tom Vilsack as secretary of agriculture, and Ken Salazar as secretary of the interior. Salazar noted the importance of federal lands to energy production, promising to help build a clean energy economy for the 21st century. He also called President Obama’s energy imperative “our moon shot” for energy independence.