Barack Obama's top priority if elected president is to launch an Apollo-style national project to build a new, clean energy economy. That's what he told Time magazine reporter Joe Klein last week.
With America's economy rocked by a one-two-punch of spiking energy prices this summer and the credit crisis this fall, our nation needs a president with a clear sense of how to free our nation from dependency on oil and a plan to get America back to work. And with climate change continuing unchecked, we need a president that will take the lead in building a post-carbon energy system. A national project to build a new, clean energy economy is the right answer to these interlinking challenges, and Obama knows it.
[Obama] has a clearer handle on the big picture, on how various policy components fit together, and a strong sense of what his top priority would be. He wants to launch an "Apollo project" to build a new alternative-energy economy. His rationale for doing so includes some hard truths about the current economic mess: "The engine of economic growth for the past 20 years is not going to be there for the next 20. That was consumer spending. Basically, we turbocharged this economy based on cheap credit." But the days of easy credit are over, Obama said, "because there is too much deleveraging taking place, too much debt." A new economic turbocharger is going to have to be found, and "there is no better potential driver that pervades all aspects of our economy than a new energy economy ... That's going to be my No. 1 priority when I get into office."As Klein points out, this is a big step for Obama, who has been reluctant to state his top priorities in the past. And Obama couldn't have made a smarter pick.
Alongside efforts to heal our sick, train and educate a new generation of highly-skilled workers, and create whole new technologies and industries that can put America back to work, we need to develop the clean, affordable and abundant new energy sources that will power our nation's economy for the century ahead.
It is time to launch a series of strategic investments that support our nation's innovators and entrepreneurs as they create and deploy new clean energy technologies; build a smarter and more efficient new electrical grid; help retool Detroit to produce the most advanced, efficient cars on the road; and spark new industries that put Americans to work installing solar panels and wind turbines, building new high speed rail lines and efficient public transit systems, and retrofitting our homes and businesses to save both energy and money.
In so doing, we will free our nation from the volatility of oil shocks and our dependency on depleting and dangerous fossil fuels. We will transform our nation from the leading global polluter to the leader in solutions to our global climate crisis. And we will spark an engine of economic growth powerful enough to launch America into prosperous times and create new pathways into the middle class for millions more Americans.
On November 5th, it will be time for Barack Obama take up the task he has set for himself and inspire our nation to launch a new national project to build the clean energy economy we need. I for one cannot wait for that day.