President Obama gave a strong endorsement of the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) at a White House press conference today, calling it “historic legislation that will transform the way we produce and use energy in America.”
The White House press corps didn’t seem to notice, asking not a single question about the bill, its reach into the American economy, or about energy and climate in general. Instead, reporters asked questions about the timing of his statements on Iran’s election and about his personal smoking habits. For real.
“How many cigarettes a day do you now smoke?” Margaret Talev of McClatchy Newspapers asked him. “Do you smoke alone or in the presence of other people? And do you believe the new law would help you to quit? If so, why?”
The energy bill, as Grist’s Kate Sheppard reports, could receive a vote in the House as soon as this Friday. The extent Obama is willing to lean on lawmakers to pass the bill has been a key question in determining whether the bill will pass, and in how strong a form. But it hasn’t become a “real” story for the White House press corps, apparently.
Not to diminish the importance of health care and what’s happening in Iran, but … Obama’s smoking habits? C’mon, now.
Here are the president’s full remarks on energy, from his opening statement:
Now the second issue I want to address is our ongoing effort to build a clean energy economy. This week, the House of Representatives is moving ahead on historic legislation that will transform the way we produce and use energy in America. This legislation will spark a clean energy transformation that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and confront the carbon pollution that threatens our planet.
This energy bill will create a set of incentives that will spur the development of new sources of energy, including wind, solar and geothermal power. It will also spur new energy savings, like efficient windows and other materials that reduce heating costs in the winter and cooling costs in the summer. These incentives will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy.And that will lead to the development of new technologies that lead to new industries that could create millions of new jobs in America — jobs that can’t be shipped overseas.
At a time of great fiscal challenges, this legislation is paid for by the polluters who currently emit the dangerous carbon emissions that contaminate the water we drink and pollute the air that we breathe. It also provides assistance to businesses and communities as they make the gradual transition to clean-energy technologies.
So I believe that this legislation is extraordinarily important for our country. It’s taken great effort on the part of many over the course of the past several months. And I want to thank the chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Henry Waxman; his colleagues on that committee, including Congressmen Dingell, Ed Markey and Rick Boucher. I also want to thank Charlie Rangel, the chair of the Ways and Means Committee, and Collin Peterson, the chair of the Agricultural Committee, for their many and ongoing contributions to this process. And I want to express my appreciation to Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer for their leadership.
We all know why this is so important. The nation that leads in the creation of a clean-energy economy will be the nation that leads the 21st century’s global economy. That’s what this legislation seeksto achieve. It’s a bill that will open the door to a better future for this nation, and that’s why I urge members of Congress to come together and pass it.
If you’re still curious, here’s Obama’s response to the smoking question.