- The Washington Times - Monday, March 23, 2009

President Obama stumped Monday for billions of dollars in renewable energy spending included in his first budget, saying the investments are necessary to return Americans to work and break the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.

Mr. Obama touted $59 billion in renewable energy investments included in the the $787 billion stimulus plan, and $150 billion for clean energy he plans to spend over the next 10 years — if lawmakers keep it in the budget.

The push for clean energy spending comes as Republican members of Congress and some moderate Democrats have raised flags over the president’s spending plans, which have the potential to rip open a $9.3 trillion long-term deficit.

Mr. Obama praised Paul Holland, lead investor for Serious Materials, for leading the nation in producing energy-efficient building materials. He thanked Mr. Holland for re-opening a plant in Pennsylvania and rehiring the 100 workers who had lost their jobs.

“Today, that factory is roaring back to life,” Mr. Obama said. “Serious Materials is rehiring the folks who lost their jobs. These workers will now have a new mission producing some of the most energy-efficient windows in the world.”

Mr. Obama has pinned much of his economic recovery hopes on the promise of “green” jobs, a loosely defined term, which generally refers to any work created by renewable energy projects.

The administration has reached out to the activist community to fill its ranks, recently tapping Van Jones, founder of Green Jobs For All and an early supporter of the Obama campaign, to work as special adviser to the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

But talk of jobs and energy has been a double-edged sword for Mr. Obama and his supporters, as opponents outline the potential job losses spurred by a shift away from traditional fossil fuel sources, including coal and oil.

Mr. Obama and his top aides have been careful to alleviate concerns from the coal community, budgeting more than $3 billion for carbon emissions storage technology — viewed as the key to “clean coal” but something unlikely to be commercially viable until 10 to 15 years from now.

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