President Obama, speaking yesterday at Carnegie Mellon University, making the case that BP's oil spill is a stark reminder of the need to end our dependence on fossil fuels:
In the short-term, ending the flow of oil into the Gulf and helping the Gulf Coast recover is obviously President Obama's top priority, but he is absolutely right that in the wake of this disaster we must confront the dangerous reality of our dependence on oil. We must recognize that we need to pursue alternative sources of energy -- that our way of life, the health of our ecology, and the prosperity of our economy all depend on developing new, clean, affordable, and secure sources of energy.
Oil and fossil fuels are not a serious long-term option and we are very lucky to still have the opportunity to take control of our destiny. The pundits tell us that the test of Obama's presidency is whether or not he can stop BP's leak, but that's the argument of fools: the real test of this crisis is whether President Obama is able to lead this nation to a clean energy future. To do that, he's going to need to engage the American public in an honest and frank discussion about the implications of this disaster on energy policy, and yesterday's remarks in Pennsylvania were a strong start.
Full transcript below the fold.
Now, this brings me to an issue that’s on everybody’s minds right now -- namely, what kind of energy future can ensure our long-term prosperity. The catastrophe unfolding in the Gulf right now may prove to be a result of human error, or of corporations taking dangerous shortcuts to compromise safety, or a combination of both. And I’ve launched a National Commission so that the American people will have answers on exactly what happened. But we have to acknowledge that there are inherent risks to drilling four miles beneath the surface of the Earth, and these are risks -- (applause) -- these are risks that are bound to increase the harder oil extraction becomes. We also have to acknowledge that an America run solely on fossil fuels should not be the vision we have for our children and our grandchildren. (Applause.)
We consume more than 20 percent of the world’s oil, but have less than 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves. So without a major change in our energy policy, our dependence on oil means that we will continue to send billions of dollars of our hard-earned wealth to other countries every month -- including countries in dangerous and unstable regions. In other words, our continued dependence on fossil fuels will jeopardize our national security. It will smother our planet. And it will continue to put our economy and our environment at risk.
Now, I understand that we can’t end our dependence on fossil fuels overnight. That’s why I supported a careful plan of offshore oil production as one part of our overall energy strategy. But we can pursue such production only if it’s safe, and only if it’s used as a short-term solution while we transition to a clean energy economy.
And the time has come to aggressively accelerate that transition. The time has come, once and for all, for this nation to fully embrace a clean energy future. (Applause.) Now, that means continuing our unprecedented effort to make everything from our homes and businesses to our cars and trucks more energy-efficient. It means tapping into our natural gas reserves, and moving ahead with our plan to expand our nation’s fleet of nuclear power plants. It means rolling back billions of dollars of tax breaks to oil companies so we can prioritize investments in clean energy research and development.
But the only way the transition to clean energy will ultimately succeed is if the private sector is fully invested in this future -- if capital comes off the sidelines and the ingenuity of our entrepreneurs is unleashed. And the only way to do that is by finally putting a price on carbon pollution.
No, many businesses have already embraced this idea because it provides a level of certainty about the future. And for those that face transition costs, we can help them adjust. But if we refuse to take into account the full costs of our fossil fuel addiction -- if we don’t factor in the environmental costs and the national security costs and the true economic costs -- we will have missed our best chance to seize a clean energy future.
The House of Representatives has already passed a comprehensive energy and climate bill, and there is currently a plan in the Senate -- a plan that was developed with ideas from Democrats and Republicans -- that would achieve the same goal. And, Pittsburgh, I want you to know, the votes may not be there right now, but I intend to find them in the coming months. (Applause.) I will continue to make the case for a clean energy future wherever and whenever I can. (Applause.) I will work with anyone to get this done -- and we will get it done.
The next generation will not be held hostage to energy sources from the last century. We are not going to move backwards. We are going to move forward.