President Obama on Energy

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On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed a $787 billion economic recovery plan (ARRA) that included $78.6 billion for energy tax breaks, green infrastructure projects and other green energy initiatives – approximately 10 percent of the total bill. Specifically, the bill included $32.80 billion for cleaner energy, $26.86 billion for greater energy efficiency, and $18.95 billion for greener transportation. The provisions aimed to reduce pollution and save energy while creating jobs. When fully implemented, these provisions will prevent approximately 6 billion pounds of global warming pollution annually, reduce oil consumption by 15 million barrels per year, and create more than 1.5 million jobs.

On January 26, 2010, in his state of the union message, President Obama readdressed the importance of investment in clean energy and energy efficiency as the best way to sustainably grow America's moribund economy. The President expressed the need to pass a comprehensive energy and climate bill and mentioned clean coal, biofuels and nuclear power as ways to improve the environment. According to the President, the creation of a high speed rail system is a way to generate green jobs, enhance economic productivity and reduce carbon emissions.

The report Renewing America: A Blueprint for Economic Recovery by Environment America, a federation of state-based, citizen-funded environmental advocacy organizations, states that high speed rail is estimated to consume approximately 42 percent less energy per passenger-mile than intercity car travel and 30 percent less energy per passenger-mile than plane travel. In addition, high speed rail is a long-term infrastructure investment that will provide a high value return on its investment for decades. “This is a down payment on a truly national program,” said Vice-President Biden. “It will change the way we travel and change the way we work and live.”

American High Speed Rail Alliance

The core mission of the American High Speed Rail Alliance (AHSRA) is to advocate for a national high speed rail system by supporting the development of the appropriate infrastructure. A key component of that effort lies in encouraging the investment in energy choices that will provide multiple payoffs in solving our country’s energy, air quality and climate challenges. As Obama stated, “the nation that leads in clean energy economy will lead the global economy.” Creating a clean and energy efficient high speed rail system that promotes renewable energy choices could be a great step toward achieving this goal.