Weekly Address: President Obama – Doubling Our Clean Energy Funding to Address the Challenge of Climate Change

The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

From the White HouseWeekly Address

In this week’s address, the President discussed climate change and how the most ambitious climate agreement in history is creating private sector partnerships that are advancing the latest technologies in clean power. Reiterating his State of the Union call to invest in the future rather than subsidize the past, the President said the budget he will present to Congress on Tuesday will double funding for clean energy research and development by 2020 in an effort to help private sector job creation and lower the cost of clean energy. The President also highlighted ways American entrepreneurship is addressing one of the greatest challenges of our time, and called on leaders in Washington to do the same.

Transcript: Weekly Address: Doubling Our Clean Energy Funding to Address the Challenge of Climate Change

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address, The White House, February 6, 2016

Hi everybody. One of the things that makes America great is our passion for innovation – that spirit of discovery and entrepreneurship that helps us meet any challenge.

One of the greatest challenges of our time is climate change. Over the last seven years, we’ve made historic investments in clean energy that helped private sector companies create tens of thousands of good jobs. And today, clean power from the wind or the sun is actually cheaper in many communities than dirtier, conventional power. It’s helped grow our economy and cut our total carbon pollution more than any other country on earth.

That leadership helped bring nearly 200 nations together in Paris around the most ambitious climate agreement in history. And in Paris, we also launched one of the most important partnerships ever assembled to accelerate this kind of clean energy innovation around the world. Investors and business leaders including Bill Gates, Meg Whitman, and Mark Zuckerberg joined us, pledging their own money to help advance new technologies to the market.

That’s important because we’ll only meet this challenge if the private sector helps lead the way.

As I said in my State of the Union address, rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future. That’s why the budget I will send to Congress this Tuesday will double funding for clean energy research and development by 2020. This will include new investments to help the private sector create more jobs faster, lower the cost of clean energy faster, and help clean, renewable power outcompete dirty fuels in every state.

And while Republicans in Congress are still considering their position on climate change, many of them realize that clean energy is an incredible source of good-paying jobs for their constituents. That’s why we were able to boost clean energy research and development in last year’s budget agreement. And I hope they support my plan to double that kind of investment.

Because it’s making a difference across the country. In Idaho, our Battery Test Center is helping electric cars run longer on a single charge. In Ohio, entrepreneurs are pioneering new ways to harness wind power from the Great Lakes. In Tennessee, researchers are partnering with utilities to boost storage and solar power to create a more resilient electric grid.

The point is, all across the country, folks are putting their differences aside to face this challenge as one. Washington should do the same. That’s how we’re going to solve this challenge – together. And that’s how we’re going to give our kids and grandkids the future they deserve – one with a safe, secure, and prosperous planet.

Thanks everybody, and have a great weekend.

Bolding added.




  1. President Obama’s statement on the economy after the new jobs report was released:

    James S. Brady Press Briefing Room, 12:31 P.M. EST

    THE PRESIDENT: TGIF, everybody. I wanted to stop by, because as you’re aware by now, America’s businesses created another 158,000 jobs last month. After reaching 10 percent in 2009, the unemployment rate has now fallen to 4.9 percent — even as more Americans joined the job market last month. So this is the first time that the unemployment rate has dipped below 5 percent in almost eight years. Americans are working.

    All told, over the past six years, our businesses have added 14 million new jobs. Seventy-one straight months of private-sector job growth extends the longest streak on record. Over the past two years, 2014 and 2015, our businesses added more jobs than any time since the 1990s.

    Most importantly, this progress is finally starting to translate into bigger paychecks. Over the past six months, wages have grown at their fastest rate since the crisis. And the policies that I’ll push this year are designed to give workers even more leverage to earn raises and promotions.

    So, unemployment, deficits, gas prices are all down. Jobs, wages, and the rate of the insured are up. I should mention, by the way, that since I signed Obamacare into law, nearly 18 million Americans have gained coverage, and our businesses have created jobs every month since. On net, all of them full-time jobs.

    So, as I said at my State of the Union address, the United States of America, right now, has the strongest, most durable economy in the world. I know that’s still inconvenient for Republican stump speeches as their doom and despair tour plays in New Hampshire. I guess you cannot please everybody.

    That does not mean that we don’t have more work to do. There is softness in the global economy. China is going through a transition. Europe’s economy is still slow. A lot of the emerging markets are challenged. So that’s all creating headwinds for a lot of U.S. companies who do business overseas. It makes it more difficult for us to sell exports. So we’ve got to pay attention to this, and we’ve got to take some smart steps this year to continue progress. And we also have to do more to make sure that the progress that we do make is broadly based and impacting folks up and down the income scales. The budget that I send to Congress on Tuesday is going to make sure that we can continue that progress. Talking down the American economy, by the way, does not make that progress.

    My budget is going to offer more opportunities for Americans to get the education and job training that they need for a good-paying job. It will offer new ideas for benefits and protections that provide folks with a basic sense of security. We’ll create more good-paying jobs not by subsidizing the past, but by investing in the future. And that’s why we’re going to be placing a big emphasis on clean energy. Private-sector solar jobs, for example, are growing 12 times faster than the rest of the economy, and they pay better than average. That’s one reason why my budget is going to double our investment in clean energy research and development by the end of the decade. That’s going to help businesses create more jobs faster, it’s going to lower the cost of clean energy faster, it’s going to help renewable power compete with dirty fuels across America in a more effective way.

    Those are some of the steps that are going to make sure our future is even stronger — a future that is worthy of the hard work and determination of the American people. The progress we’ve made, going from 10 percent down to under five, that’s a testament to American workers, American businesses, and the American people being resilient and sticking to it. And my hope is, is that rather than hinder their progress, we’re going to continue to help them make progress.

    (Bolding and underlining added)

    The statement turned into an impromptu news conference. There is more at the link.

    • NPR reports:

      The U.S. economy added just 151,000 jobs in January while unemployment dropped slightly, to 4.9 percent, according to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

      Economists had expected to see about 190,000 new jobs.

      The unemployment rate, which has held steady at 5 percent the past few months, dropped slightly to 4.9 percent. It’s the first time unemployment has fallen below 5 percent since the recession. […]

      One bright spot on the report: Wages. Average hourly earnings rose by 12 cents in January, to $25.39. The report says that over the year, wages have risen 2.5 percent overall.

      Retail, restaurants, health care and manufacturing all gained jobs, the BLS says. But jobs were lost in transportation, warehousing, private education services and mining.

    • From the White House: As Unemployment Drops Below 5%, Here Are Five Facts About America’s Jobs Market

      1. We’ve beaten expectations on the unemployment rate

      As recently as 2012, the Blue Chip consensus of independent private sector economists was that unemployment would be 6.7 percent in 2015; would still be almost 6 percent in 2018; and would not fall below 5 percent until 2020. And yet, today it’s 4.9 percent.

      Mitt Romney predicted his policies, if he were elected, would bring unemployment down to 6 percent – by the end of 2016, and one publication called that “a bold claim that Romney will surely be held to by Democrats if he’s elected.” To put that into perspective, if the unemployment rate were 6.7 percent today, roughly 2.7 million additional Americans would be out of work. If it were 6 percent, roughly 1.5 million additional Americans would be unemployed.

      More at the link.

  2. Excellent news about the job market. Let’s see—under Democratic administrations, the stock market soars, the job rate soars, the deficit gets reduced…so why vote for Rethugs? Beats me.

    When did “well-paid jobs” become “good-paying jobs”? So ungrammatical. I’d love to move to a country where people actually speak English, but Britain is just as bad. The ungrammatical British novels I read and the ungrammatical articles from major British news sources make me want to scream. I’m just an old crank, I suppose.

    • Ha! I will join you in your old crankiness. Grammar is important to me and the English speaking people here have been dropping their Good Grammar “G”s literally (that is probably “good-payin’ jobs” when it is spoken, you know) and figuratively as social media drives what is acceptable. I am not sure many people know how to construct a grammatically proper sentence any longer.

      And get off my lawn!!! :)

  3. In the News: Not just Flint but Southern California poisoned by government “can’t be bothered”ism …

    A major natural gas storage well in Southern California is still leaking, though less so than back in late October, when the giant gas leak was first reported. More than 5,000 families and two schools have been relocated since then, and the local utility that operates the facility is now facing several legal actions.

    The utility, Southern California Gas Co., now says the leak should be sealed by the end of the month, if not earlier, and also says the gases released will cause no long-term health effects. But some people who live near the leak worry that not enough research has been done to make that claim. […]

    California state health officials investigating the leak reported last week that “overall, the available air sample data does not indicate that an acute health hazard exists from any of the volatile organic chemicals measured,” though it notes that the headaches, nausea and respiratory irritation that many residents have reported could be a response to the odorant the company adds to its natural gas supply.

    One family’s daughter was sickened and coincidentally became well after the family was moved.

    And file this under “what could possibly go wrong if you frack in an earthquake zone?

    Injecting old, used water from oil and gas drilling in California has been tied to earthquakes for the first time, according to a new study released Thursday. Wastewater injections have already been tied to earthquakes in Colorado and Oklahoma.

    The study comes as fracking in California is growing in scope — and in attention. During fracking, chemical-laced, saline water is injected at high pressure thousands of meters underground, loosening deposits of oil and gas. The process, as well as other forms of so-called enhanced oil recovery, creates huge amounts of wastewater, which is often disposed of by being injected into storage wells. (It is also occasionally reused in agriculture or dumped in the ocean.)

    California’s wastewater injections have already raised concerns and prompted lawsuits, after environmentalists discovered oil and gas companies have received permits from the Dept. of Conservation to inject into protected aquifers. […]

    According to Shaye Wolf, a researcher with the Center for Biological Diversity and co-author of the group’s report, it’s wastewater injection wells that are most concerning.

    “State regulators haven’t been looking at the risk of inducing earthquakes from the massive amounts of oil and gas wastewater that is being injected in California,” Wolf said. “Those are the ones in particular that have been linked to the swarms of earthquakes that have been caused in the Midwest.”

    C’mon, California. Really?

  4. From the Twitterator:

    Planned Parenthood @PPact

    Thank you @JacksonLeeTX18 & everyone fighting to ensure health care is a right — not a privilege. #StandWithPP

  5. In the News: Affordable Care Act success story

    The 4 million new people who signed up for insurance on the federal HealthCare.gov exchange for 2016 are one of several signs the open enrollment period that ended Sunday was a success, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said Friday.

    As further evidence of the administration’s successes, Burwell also pointed to her continued discussions with states considering expanding Medicaid to all of those earning too little to get subsidized ACA plans.

    These talks, she says, show it’s not if states will expand Medicaid but rather “a question of when.” She cited two main factors for this: The higher rate of hospital closures in states that haven’t expanded Medicaid and how many people left without coverage are working.

    “Helping people who are working and playing by the rules is something that is an important concept most people agree on,” she said.

    PLUS when hospitals close, it is bad for business and bad for the bottom line in state government.

    Brian Blase, a former Republican congressional aide now with the free market Mercatus Institute, says he’s “surprised 20 states still haven’t expanded Medicaid” since the federal government is paying states for all of the new enrollees.

  6. Troubling news from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) … a commission set up to help America vote.

    A federal elections official has decided — without public notice or review from his agency’s commissioners — that residents of Alabama, Kansas and Georgia can no longer register to vote using a federal form without providing proof of U.S. citizenship.

    The action by the new executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission is being roundly criticized by voting rights activists, who say the “secretive move” will create additional barriers for potential voters, and one of the agency’s own commissioners, who says it contradicts policy and precedent.

    The new instructions were posted on the agency’s website, according to EAC’s executive director Brian Newby, who sent letters dated Jan. 29 to the three states that had requested the change. Under the new rule, any resident in those states who registers to vote using the federal form must show citizenship documentation — such as a birth certificate, naturalization papers or passport. In other states, no such documentation is needed to register; voters need only sign a sworn statement.

    The changes took effect immediately, Newby said, adding that any interested party could request a review from the commission, which is appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

    How can an executive director wield this much power? And who let this fox into the hen house??

    “Newby took over in November and came from Kansas, whose Republican secretary of state, Kris Kobach, has been a staunch advocate for such citizenship requirements and has fought court battles over them. Kobach also had appointed Newby to be a county elections commissioner.”

    The EAC was set up as part of the Help America Vote Act of 2002:

    The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 was passed by the United States Congress to make sweeping reforms to the nation’s voting process. HAVA addresses improvements to voting systems and voter access that were identified following the 2000 election.

    Making it more difficult to vote for certain citizens helps how?

  7. On Tuesday, the president will be releasing his 2017 fiscal year budget for Congress’ consideration.

    Included in it is a provision to help community colleges:

    President Barack Obama will propose a $2.5 billion tax credit over five years for businesses that invest in programs at local community colleges and hire their graduates, administration officials said on Friday.

    The proposal, dubbed the Community College Partnership Tax Credit, would require businesses to donate funds for equipment, instruction, or internships related to programs in areas such as healthcare, energy and information technology.

    Employers that hire students from such programs would get a one-time, $5,000 tax credit per individual brought aboard.

    The program, to be proposed formally in the president’s fiscal 2017 budget on Tuesday, is meant to shore up community colleges’ educational offerings, while helping businesses find high-skilled workers in certain fields.

    “Employers can define those skills and help colleges develop the curriculum that teaches them,” said James Kvaal, White House deputy director of domestic policy. He estimated the initiative would produce 500,000 highly skilled graduates over five years.

  8. Planning to Etch-a-sketch?

    “[Rubio] has landed near the sweet spot between Cruz-like extremism, Trump-like nativism, and Jeb Bush’s more principled rejection of both factions of the right. But to get there, he’s attached himself to policy proposals that are different in kind, and more extreme, than those of recent Republican nominees. Now Rubio threatens to smuggle them into the general election undetected by a press corps that has been fixated on Trump.”
    “Rubio’s a smooth talker. But he’s never really had to square his appeal to electability with the fact that he’s further right than Mitt Romney on almost every issue, and further right than Trump and Cruz on at least some.”


  9. In the News: Secretary Clinton to travel to Flint Sunday …

    Hillary Clinton has heaped attention on the lead-poisoned city of Flint, Michigan, for weeks, but on Sunday she’ll do more than just highlight the crisis. She’ll actually see it firsthand.

    The Democratic presidential candidate is scheduled to visit the faded American factory town with the undrinkable taps. Her plan is to tour the city with Mayor Karen Weaver, learning about the state of the crisis and the efforts to fix it.

    There was much reaction about “politicizing” this issue, including this comment by a Flint resident: “”This is a water issue. It’s not a political issue. ”

    Bull. It is a problem caused by a political ideology that says that you cannot tax for public services and that the lives of poor people can be sacrificed on the altar of discredited supply side economics. It is a problem festering because the governor of Michigan knows damn well that if he waits long enough, people will forget and he can renege on his promise to “make this right”.

    And it needs a political response because unless he is held politically responsible for his moral failings, nothing will get done.

  10. In the News: Secretary Clinton rally in New Hampshire at Great Bay Community College with an introduction from Sen. Al Franken …

    Sen. Franken said that Hillary Clinton is a Paul Wellstone progressive. He cited Paul’s famous line as proof: “We all do better when we all do better”.

  11. In the News – from Wisconsin: State Supreme Court refuses to allow district attorneys to hire outside attorneys to help in their appeal to the federal courts …

    Election Law expert Rick Hasen:

    So there’s a potential claim that WI Supreme Court justices should have recused themselves from deciding the John Doe case, given that they themselves benefitted from campaign financing by the same groups in the case. The district attorneys asked for outside help on those cases, from an outside law firm specializing in SCOTUS appeals which would work pro bono (for free).

    And today the Wisconsin Supreme Court, itself the target of the appeal, said no (over Justice Abrahamson’s dissent).

    Heck, the Justices won’t even let an outside printing company print redacted portions of the John Doe record for the Supreme Court appeal.

    This is totally indefensible.

    Link to more on this story: roundup

    They are simply digging themselves a deeper hole. Fortunately, Federal District Judge Lynn Adelman, who has been assigned this case, is one of the good guys and will not let the State Supreme Court flout the laws.

  12. In the News: North Carolina’s gerrymander declared unconstitutional

    A federal court panel ruled late Friday that two of North Carolina’s 13 congressional districts were racially gerrymandered and must be redrawn within two weeks, sparking uncertainty about whether the March primary elections can proceed as planned.

    An order from a three-judge panel bars elections in North Carolina’s 1st and 12th congressional districts until new maps are approved.

    Challengers of North Carolina’s 2011 redistricting plan quickly praised the ruling, while legislators who helped design the maps said they were disappointed and promised a quick appeal.

    Look at these districts!!

    They obviously didn’t even care to pretend that they were fair any longer.

    Critics of the 2011 Republican-led redistricting contend the map lines were drawn to concentrate black voters in districts that reduced their overall political power.

  13. In the News: Wisconsin’s repeal of 48 hour wait for hand gun purchase allowed killer to buy gun and kill former co-worker

    In wake of the recent tragedy involving a Metro Market employee gunned down by a former coworker, comes renewed interest to restore the 48-hour hand gun wait-period law.

    State Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) says it’s become her calling to bring it back soon, especially after the phone call she received Saturday morning from Caroline Nosal’s mother, Jane.

    Between tears, Rep. Taylor spoke to the grieving mom about the tragedy.

    “This is so senseless, and so devastating,” she said about the Tuesday’s murder outside the Metro Market.

    The suspect, Christopher O’Kroley, was fired from the grocery store on Monday. According to the criminal complaint and Madison Police, O’Kroley bought a gun at a store. In a little more than 24 hours later, he killed Nosal.

    “I don’t think waiting 48 hours to purchase a handgun is a huge burden, I don’t think if you ask the parents of the young woman killed that they will say that it is too much of a burden,” Rep. Taylor said about her work to re-introduce the 48-hour wait-period law.

    The 48 hour wait was just recently repealed. The blood of that young woman is on the hands of those who voted to repeal a commonsense gun safety regulation.

    • This is the account of his court appearance:

      Christopher O’Kroley told police after his arrest Wednesday that he would have shot Caroline Nosal to death one night earlier, except for one thing: He realized he had never fired the gun he bought on Monday and wanted to practice with it.

      By the time he had practiced firing and returned to Metro Market, 6010 Cottage Grove Road, where O’Kroley and Nosal had worked together, he told police, Nosal had already left work and gone home. O’Kroley went home, ordered pizza, and watched movies, according to a criminal complaint. […]

      According to the criminal complaint filed Friday, O’Kroley told police he bought the gun he used to shoot Nosal after Metro Market fired him by phone on Monday afternoon, and he had intended to use it that night.

      O’Kroley had worked there with Nosal, and co-workers described a relationship between the two that soured after O’Kroley “wanted more,” according to the complaint. Two weeks before the shooting, Nosal had complained to store management that she was being harassed by O’Kroley, who was then suspended.

      After he was suspended, O’Kroley told police, he began planning to kill Nosal and himself if he was also fired.

  14. Meanwhile in Louisiana, another starve-the-beast state (although one that recently elected a Democratic governor), Water woes

    While state officials and the EPA have deemed the water safe to drink, virtually no one risks it. Most here do not even use tap water to cook or brush teeth, and many, especially children, bathe with bottled water. Lots of residents spend several hundred a month on store-bought water.

    To add to the mounting frustration, $6 million of state funds allocated to St. Joseph for water line repairs in 2013 are still being withheld because the town’s mayor, Edward Brown, has failed several times to turn in a mandatory financial audit on time. New Governor John Bel Edwards said this week his office was working with the town of St. Joseph and the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) to fast track the allocation of at least some of that money to start system repair work. Mayor Brown said he expects to file the overdue audit by the end of February.

    “What we’ve experienced here is policy failures that have allowed these communities to fall through the cracks,” said St. Joseph resident Garrett Boyte, drawing a comparison to the disaster in Flint, Michigan.

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