Clean Energy Leadership from the White House to Main Street

Over the past two days, President Obama traveled to Iowa, Missouri and Illinois as part of his Main Street tour. He witnessed the hardships that Americans are facing from the economic crisis that plagues our nation. However, he also witnessed the possibilities and opportunities for growth that are happening all over the country, through investment in our clean energy economy.

Tuesday, the President visited a Siemens Wind Blade Turbine Manufacturing Plant in Fort Madison, Iowa. He spoke of how just a few years ago, the plant was silent and empty, a possibility yet unfulfilled. Yet now, thanks to a $3.5 million 48c tax credit funded by the Recovery Act, it employs more than 600 people, two-thirds of whom were previously without work. In addition, it supports 350 more jobs throughout Lee County, employing everyone from electricians to grocers.

After traveling throughout Iowa, touring a farm and holding a town hall meeting at a Community College, on Wednesday the President headed to Macon, Missouri. Macon is home to the POET Biorefinery, a plant that produces ethanol from crops grown right here in the United States.

Families in Macon and Fort Madison, like many others across this nation, know all-too-well the hardships of this recession. But these towns, and many others across the country, are getting back to their feet – and we are doing all we can to help. Last year we made the largest investment in the clean energy economy in our nation’s history, which is expected to create more than 700,000 jobs by the end of 2012. These are jobs not just in providing the parts and technology to create power from the wind or fuels from the land, but in manufacturing solar panels, in building the wires and mechanics behind our smart meters, in creating next generation batteries – the list goes on.

Other nations realize that the country that leads the clean energy economy will be the country that leads the 21st century global economy. The President is dedicated to making the United States that country – and is inspired by the small towns across rural America that provide the backbone for this effort. Towns like Macon and Fort Madison can be models around this country, and I’m confident one day we’ll look back to these places as some of the engines of this new clean energy future.

As extraordinary the work that towns like Macon and Fort Madison are doing, these plants can’t solve all our energy challenges alone. But their work is a key part of a comprehensive strategy to move us from an economy that runs on fossil fuels to one that relies on homegrown fuels and clean energy. And the President knows we can come together on this issue and pass comprehensive energy and climate legislation that will spur a new generation of clean energy industries, create good American jobs, and enhance our energy security.

Carol Browner is the Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change.

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