- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 28, 2009

President Obama said Wednesday that he will use $467 million in economic-stimulus money for initiatives that in two years will double the country’s capacity for clean, renewable energy.

The first initiative is to develop solar technology programs across the country similar to one that provides about 25 percent of the electricity for Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas, where the president visited as part of a Western trip to fundraise and promote his economic policies.

The second is to develop geothermal energy throughout the country.

“We know the cost of our oil addiction all too well,” Mr. Obama said. “It’s the cost measured by the billions of dollars we send to nations with unstable or unfriendly regimes. It’s the cost of our vulnerability to the volatility of the oil markets.”

The solar-panel site at the base is a former landfill that provides electricity for about 12,000 people. The public-private project cost $100 million and covers 140 acres.

Mr. Obama said geothermal energy is “heat from the earth” and that it can be “harnessed as a clean, affordable and reliable source of energy.”

He said that in the first 100 days since Congress passed the $787 billion economic-stimulus package, the act has saved or created nearly 150,000 jobs, in part through construction projects, and that 54 million seniors have received a $250 bonus in their Social Security checks.

The act also has extended benefits for laid-off workers, called for more fuel-efficient vehicles, helped energy-efficient homeowners save hundreds of dollars on utility bills and provided first-time homebuyers with thousands of dollars in tax credits, Mr. Obama said.

The president said the act would extend over the next two years to “clear away the wreckage” of the recession and ensure that such a crisis never occurs again.

“We cannot return to a bubble-and-bust economy based on maxed-out credit cards, overleveraged banks and financial profits that were only real on paper,” he said.

The office of House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, called the plan “anything but the ‘timely, targeted and temporary’ bill Washington Democrats promised earlier this year.”

Mr. Boehner cited reports about state officials having problems getting grants for construction projects and evidence of pet projects, including $50 million for habitat restoration in the San Francisco Bay Area. He said a full analysis of the spending would not be complete until October.

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