Obama on the Record: Earth Day

This will not be easy, and there are no silver bullets. It will take a variety of energy sources, pursued through a variety of policies, to drastically reduce our dependence on oil and fossil fuels. As I’ve often said, in the short-term, as we transition to renewable energy, we can and should increase our domestic production of oil and natural gas. We also need to find safer ways to use nuclear power and store nuclear waste.

But the bulk of our efforts must focus on unleashing a new, clean energy economy that will begin to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, cut our carbon pollution by about 80 percent by 2050, and create millions of new jobs right here in America.

My administration has already taken unprecedented action toward this goal.

This work begins with the simplest, fastest, most effective way we have to make our economy cleaner, and that is to make our economy more energy efficient. California has shown it can be done; while electricity consumption grew 50 percent in this country over the last three decades, in California, it remained flat.

Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, we have begun to modernize 75 percent of all federal building space, which has the potential to reduce long-term energy costs by billions of dollars on behalf of taxpayers. We are providing grants to states to help weatherize hundreds of thousands of homes, which will save the families that benefit about $350 each year. That’s like a $350 tax cut.

Consumers are also eligible as part of the Recovery Act for up to $1,500 in tax credits to purchase more efficient cooling and heating systems, insulation, and windows in order to reduce their energy bills. And I’ve issued a memorandum to the Department of Energy to implement more aggressive efficiency standards for common household appliances, like dishwashers and refrigerators. Through this step, over the next three decades, we’ll save twice the amount of energy produced by all the coal-fired power plants in America in any given year.

We are already seeing reports from across the country of how this is beginning to create jobs, as local governments and businesses rush to hire folks to do the work of building and installing these energy efficient products.

And these steps wills spur job creation and innovation as more Americans make purchases that place a premium on reducing energy consumption. Businesses across the country will join the competition, developing new products and seeking new customers.

In the end, the sum total of choices made by consumers and companies in response to our recovery plan will mean less pollution in our air and water, reduced costs for families and businesses, and lower reliance on fossil fuels which disrupt our environment and endanger our children’s future.

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