President Obama Touts Clean Energy on Earth Day

April 29, 2009

Photo of President Obama looking down the length of a wind tower as Mark Stiles talks to him. The tower forms a long tunnel, with a narrow flange at its end that is drilled with holes for bolts, and it sits on the floor of a high-bay building.

On Earth Day, Mark Stiles of Trinity Structural Towers gave President Obama a tour of his company's manufacturing plant for wind turbine towers.
Credit: White House/Pete Souza

April 22 was Earth Day, and President Barack Obama chose to mark the occasion by delivering an in-depth speech on clean energy technologies and the response to climate change. The speech focused primarily on renewable energy and energy efficiency, and the president noted the impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on the growth of those technologies in the United States. The president also announced the release of a new regulation for leasing areas on the Outer Continental Shelf for offshore wind power facilities (see the separate article on that regulation). President Obama delivered the speech at Trinity Structural Towers, a company that manufactures steel towers for wind turbines. The company's manufacturing plant in Newton, Iowa, revitalized a former Maytag plant and created new "green jobs" in Newton, serving as a symbol of what the president called "a new era of energy exploration in America."

"Now, the choice we face is not between saving our environment and saving our economy," said President Obama. "The choice we face is between prosperity and decline. We can remain the world's leading importer of oil, or we can become the world's leading exporter of clean energy. We can allow climate change to wreak unnatural havoc across the landscape, or we can create jobs working to prevent its worst effects. We can hand over the jobs of the 21st century to our competitors, or we can confront what countries in Europe and Asia have already recognized as both a challenge and an opportunity: The nation that leads the world in creating new energy sources will be the nation that leads the 21st-century global economy." See the full text of the speech on the White House Web site.

Meanwhile, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis commemorated Earth Day by preparing an op-ed article on green jobs and energy independence, which was published in six major newspapers. Referring to renewable energy as "the growth industry of the 21st century," the article emphasized that "rather than sending billions overseas to pay for these new and developing energy technologies, President Obama believes we should invest those dollars here in American jobs and innovation." It also noted that a clean energy economy could end U.S. dependence on foreign oil and begin to make the United States truly energy independent, concluding that "that’s not just an economic and environmental imperative, it’s also a national security imperative." See the op-ed article on the White House Web site.