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President Obama Urges Action on Economy, Energy

(Photo courtesy of

In yesterday's address to Department of Energy employees, President Obama called for quick action from legislators on the economy, and highlighted the role of energy and the DOE in the nation's recovery.

"Your mission is so important," he said, "and will only grow as we seek to transform the ways we produce and use energy for the sake of our environment, our security—and our economy."

President Obama stressed the importance of his proposed American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan in reversing recent job losses—promising it will save or create three million jobs, mostly in the private sector—while also securing the U.S. energy future. He urged quick action in Congress. "The time for talk is over. The time for action is now."

Citing targets for the stimulus plan, the president placed dependence on foreign oil as one of the nation's fundamental economic challenges, alongside soaring healthcare costs and inadequacies in U.S. schools.

"After decades of dragging our feet, this plan will finally spark the creation of a clean energy industry that will create hundreds of thousands of jobs over the next few years," he said. Energy aims include doubling U.S. renewable energy production, rebuilding a more-efficient electricity grid, and increasing energy efficiency in homes and government buildings, cutting the Federal energy bill by one-third—$2 billion per year.

As a part of these efforts, the president said, he yesterday signed a presidential memorandum asking the DOE to set new energy efficiency standards for household appliances. "This will save consumers money. This will spur innovation. And this will conserve tremendous amounts energy," he said.

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu welcomed the president to the DOE's press room in Washington, D.C, and reiterated that the DOE must push the boundaries of science to provide much-needed solutions for the country's economic and climate challenges. "I remain optimistic that scientific research will once again bring us transformative solutions," he said. "As the premier science agency in the field, the Department of Energy will play a crucial role in developing these solutions, and in helping them take hold in our nation's economy. The president's economic recovery plan will be a major step forward for these efforts, and we look forward to putting them into action."

"Washington may not be ready to get serious about energy independence," President Obama said, "but I am. And so are you."

See the DOE Web site for video and the full text of the president's and secretary's remarks.

—Shawne Workman
SLAC Today, February 6, 2009