Obama announces new efficiency initiatives as part of big clean-energy push
President Barack Obama doesn’t think he can solve global warming by changing his f**king light bulbs, but he’s going to do it anyway. More importantly, he’s going to change the light-bulb industry.
Obama unveiled new energy-efficiency standards for lighting and appliances on Monday — the latest in a string of energy-focused announcements and events for the president. On Friday, he praised the House for passing the landmark American Clean Energy and Security Act. On Saturday, he focused his weekly address on the bill and the importance of clean energy — a last-minute change, as the address had been intended to focus on health care. And on Sunday, he sat down with a group of reporters for a lengthy interview about the climate bill and energy in general, emphasizing that he thinks the clean-energy market is poised for explosive growth.
On Monday, with Energy Secretary Steven Chu at his side, Obama said the Department of Energy is at work on new standards for fluorescent and incandescent lighting. And in the meantime, he’s changing the light bulbs in the White House.
“Now I know light bulbs may not seem sexy, but this simple action holds enormous promise because 7 percent of all the energy consumed in America is used to light our homes and our businesses,” Obama said.
The president estimated that the new lighting standards would cut 594 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions between 2012 and 2042 and save American energy users $1 billion to $4 billion each year over that period — conserving enough energy to eliminate the need for as many as 14 new coal-fired power plants.
Obama also announced that the Department of Energy has outlined tougher efficiency standards for household appliances, responding to a request from the White House in February to speed up the delivery of new rules, and he noted major federal investments in energy efficiency for buildings.
“One of the fastest, easiest, and cheapest ways to make our economy stronger and cleaner is to make our economy more energy efficient,” said Obama. “By bringing more energy-efficient technologies to American homes and businesses, we won’t just significantly reduce our energy demand; we’ll put more money back in the pockets of hardworking Americans.”
Obama highlighted the gains that California has made in efficiency since the 1970s, which have put the state’s energy usage 40 percent below the national average. In the process, he said, the state has created 1.5 million jobs in energy efficiency. Obama predicted that the new federal standards will have similar effects — creating jobs, reducing emissions, and saving money.
The president also announced that $346 million from the economic stimulus bill will be invested in efficiency for commercial and residential buildings, which account for 40 percent of domestic energy use and 40 percent of domestic CO2 emissions. Of that money, $100 million will be invested in advanced building systems research, $70 million in residential buildings, $53.5 million for commercial buildings, and $72.5 million for buildings and appliance market transformation.
Obama took the opportunity to again praise the House’s passage of the climate and energy bill on Friday, a move he said will help make “clean energy the profitable kind of energy.” He praised legislators who voted for the bill for being “willing to place America’s progress ahead of the usual Washington politics.”
For more, read Obama’s full remarks.