NEWTON, Iowa (CNN) - President Obama marked Earth Day Wednesday by announcing a new initiative to lease federal waters for the purpose of generating electricity from wind and ocean currents.
The president announced the initiative, to be administered by the Interior Department, while reiterating his pledge to push for a comprehensive energy plan that encourages the development of alternative fuel sources, cuts dependence on foreign oil, addresses climate change, and creates new jobs.
Wind power can generate 20 percent of the country's electricity by 2030 and support 250,000 jobs, Obama said during a visit to a wind turbine tower manufacturing plant.
It is part of "beginning a new era of energy exploration," he said.
Contrary to the assertion of some critics, the country does not have to choose between protecting the environment and expanding the economy, Obama said. The real choice is between "prosperity and decline."