Obama: We are seeing the potential of renewable energy

By Luke Geiver | January 25, 2011

U.S. President Barack Obama delivered the 2011 State of the Union Address telling Congress and those invited for the yearly speech that “this is our generation’s Sputnik moment.” The President, citing a statement used by former President John F. Kennedy at a time when the country had fallen behind the former Soviet Union in the race to space, explained that “the challenges we face are bigger than party and bigger than politics,” noting the recent success of nations such as China and India in clean technology like solar and supercomputing. “The future is ours to win, but to get there we can’t just stand still,” Obama said. The first step, he added, in winning the future and proving that we have succeeded in our ‘Sputnik moment,’ “is encouraging American innovation.”

Only minutes into his speech he cited that as the first area of innovation to help the U.S. win in this race for innovation is renewable energy. We will invest in areas like biomedical research, he said, “especially clean energy technology.” After explaining that the government has begun to reinvent our energy policy, Obama said, “We will fund the Apollo projects of our time.” After explaining that a business in Michigan turned a roofing company into a solar panel business, he mentioned a California university that was working on a project to turn sunlight and carbon dioxide into fuel for our cars, an example of innovative renewable energy development. “We can break our dependence on foreign oil with biofuels,” he said.

Looking into the crowd of Democrats and Republicans who were unusually seated next to and amongst members of the other party—a contrast to the traditional strict party line seating order typically used—he said, “Already we are seeing the potential of renewable energy.” After pointing out the need to end subsidies to large oil companies, he explained, “Instead of subsidizing yesterdays energy, let’s invest in tomorrow’s.” The benefit of clean energy technology will only create jobs, however, if we can create an environment of support, he said.

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