Obama highlights climate push with new energy initiatives
May 9th, 2014
06:00 AM ET
3 months ago

Obama highlights climate push with new energy initiatives

Updated 2:40 p.m. ET, 5/9/2014

Mountain View, California (CNN) - President Barack Obama on Friday announced a series of steps to boost energy efficiency and advance solar priorities in an effort to underscore green-job creation and combat carbon pollution.

Appearing at a Wal-Mart store in Mountain View, California, Obama said generating more clean energy and wasting less overall is good for consumers and the economy.

"Together, the commitments we're announcing today prove that there are cost-effective ways to tackle climate change and create jobs at the same time," Obama said to store employees and invited guests.

His appearance and the initiatives he announced also pushed back against those saying that addressing climate change will be too expensive or bad for the economy.

"Rising sea levels, drought, more wildfires, more severe storms, those are bad for the economy. So we can't afford to wait. There's no reason why we can't even go further than we are so far," Obama said.

National climate assessment

The measures he's taking by executive action largely build on initiatives from earlier in his administration, which has extended billions in taxpayer funds to foster a greener economy.

Obama also has pushed bolder efficiency targets on the federal government as well as the automotive, trucking and other sectors to reduce the use of carbon fuels and boost energy independence.

Dan Utech, a special assistant to the President for energy and climate change, said prior to the President's appearance that the initiatives will help cut pollution by more than 380 million metric tons of carbon, save businesses nearly $26 billion on their energy bills.

Obama said such gains can help businesses reinvest in their products and operations, and free them to hire more workers.

His appearance highlighted efforts by his administration to publicize a sober White House report this week on climate change.

The update to the National Climate Assessment said evidence of human-made climate change "continues to strengthen" and that "Americans are noticing changes all around them."

The Obama administration wants the report to ignite awareness of the need for government, communities, business and society at large to respond now to climate change in the face of fierce political opposition, mostly from conservatives.

Building efficiencies and solar

The new steps announced by Obama on Friday vary from job training for the solar energy industry to improving the efficiency of equipment, like escalators and refrigerator motors, to finalizing new building codes that reduce emissions on new construction.

One aims to increase the efficiency of federal buildings through $2 billion in new energy performance contracts issued over the next three years.

According to Mike Boots, acting director of the Council on Environmental Quality, these contracts use "long-term energy savings to pay for upfront costs" associated with upgrading buildings.

"We've already seen impressive progress here," Boots said in a preview of the President's announcement, pointing to a similar $2 billion commitment made in 2011.

Obama also used the visit to America's biggest retailer and economic bellwether to reveal commitments from more than 300 private companies and public sector organizations to make the buildings they use more energy efficient.

He said such gains can help businesses reinvest in their products and operations, and free them to hire more workers.

Companies like Clif Bar, Apple, Ikea, Home Depot and Whole Foods have committed to expand solar usage, officials said.

Wal-Mart's solar energy efforts were also highlighted by Obama, who said the administration would take more steps in that area that include new programs at community colleges directed at solar industry job training.

Wal-mart has set a goal of producing or procuring 7 billion kilowatt hours of renewable energy by 2020 and as part of that commitment announced plans Friday to double the number of solar projects at its facilities.

One way the administration has tried to set an example is by installing U.S.-made solar panels on the roof of the White House last summer as part of what spokesman Matt Lehrich called "an energy retrofit."

'Climate deniers'

In his remarks, Obama dismissed the shouts of "climate deniers" in Washington as a waste of time, proclaiming "climate change is a fact" and insisting that addressing it can be good for the business bottom line.

"We know the shift to clean energy won't happen overnight, we've got to make some tough choices along the way and we know that if we do it's going to save us ultimately money and create jobs over the long term," he said.

Wal-mart has set a goal of producing or procuring 7 billion kilowatt hours of renewable energy by 2020 and as part of that commitment announced plans Friday to double the number of solar projects at its facilities.

soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. @RI_Roger

    Another "Duping of Americans" to get federal money to crony companies. Wake up American, any legitimate company with a brain for business doesn't need the President to tell them how to build efficiencies to make money. However, those business created for the sole purpose to funnel money to the Democratic party do need the President to create a phony program to get grants and loans to these companies and individuals.... Such As Solindra, First Solar, Evergreen, A123, ACORN, and the list goes on. This will be his last push as a lame duck to pay-off his loyal donors.

    May 9, 2014 06:29 am at 6:29 am |
  2. Wilson

    One problem I had with Reagan was his removal of the solar panels from the white house that jimmy carter had installed.

    May 9, 2014 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  3. Tom Kline

    He looks like a tired and beaten man.

    May 9, 2014 06:42 am at 6:42 am |
  4. Gurgyl

    Put more LED Light bulbs, solar, energy savers. Make sure made in USA. Raise minimum wage. Employers are so nasty to suck the blood of employees. These pigs are not treating employees right, so only they are not working. We need people we are not getting. They need to do pay raise, bonuses etc. Raise minimum wage to 12/.

    May 9, 2014 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  5. king

    the globe is getting hotter, as the sun is heating up oceans and sending more than normal moisture on dry land. the problem is this is taking one route, which means some places going to be wet and as hell, and no water get to other places making it dry as hell. we will see more drought in some places and more storms and hurricanes in others. the swift stream of moisture pulling from the oceans by warmer weather is creating a jet stream, that is more narrower and narrower stream, leaving vast amount of land areas untouched by life giving water.

    May 9, 2014 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  6. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Stop trying to distract us from Benghazi, the IRS, Hillary and Bocu Haram, and your phony birth certificate.

    We know you and Hillary flew to Benghazi for a hot passionate night and decided to bump off Ambassador Stevens and the others. And we know you and Hillary are working with your cousin Boku Haram and have personal knowledge of where those girls are.

    FIFY.

    May 9, 2014 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  7. badtobone

    I would have to agree with Tom and Roger on this one.
    I think he is reaching for straws. The polls look very bad for his party election and he's trying to change the story line. But to pick wal mart as a start the same company the democrat has complained about for unfair wages tells how bid of a reach.

    May 9, 2014 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  8. Marie MD

    @wilson, only the solar panels? How about raising taxes, taxing social security checks, giving birth to the Taliban and bin laden, nothing for women's advancement and never mind the thousands spent on lavish Hollywood parties at the WH while he literally slept through his presidency?

    May 9, 2014 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  9. waitaminute

    OMG. We need a change in the climate of the federal government.

    May 9, 2014 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  10. Brando

    If his mouth is moving, he is lying. True story!

    May 9, 2014 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  11. rs

    Cue the dictator silliness. Look, at this stage it would actually help the GOP if it appeared they are something slightly more forward-thinking than the Inquisitors of Spain. Climate problems are real, people see them and experience them. Pretending they don't exists because they cut into the profits of their two largest donors is feeble.

    May 9, 2014 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  12. Rick McDaniel

    100% total waste of our tax dollars.

    May 9, 2014 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  13. Ol' Yeller

    " However, those business created for the sole purpose to funnel money to the Democratic party do need the President to create a phony program to get grants and loans to these companies and individuals...."

    Absolutely! That is totally unAmerican. Obama should start a couple of phony Wars and kill a bunch of our soldiers and civilians in countries overseas (preferably the mid East, but NOT Israel) so he can give preferable treatment to the companies he wants to use to funnel money to his Party.
    That's the American Way.... Can't trust them Kenyans and this is just more proof of that.

    May 9, 2014 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  14. Free Man in the Republic of Texas

    NEW ???

    What's "NEW" about Lib / Progressive / Democrats
    TAXING and REGULATING ???

    May 9, 2014 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  15. Logictox

    Anyone that believes Climate change is man made also thinks the world is still flat. The earth is 4.5 billion years old and the climate has been changing for the entire time. It was only 50 years ago scientist assured us we were heading into another ice age. The temperature has changed less than a half degree in 140 years and true scientist say it has everything to do with sun solar activity and nothing to do with mankind. However they aren't the scientist being paid to say it's man made.

    May 9, 2014 10:11 am at 10:11 am |