Read all posts from June 2013

  • President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, along with Leslie Robinson, daughters Malia and Sasha, and Marian Robinson, tour the Lime Quarry

    President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, along with Leslie Robinson, daughters Malia and Sasha, and Marian Robinson, tour the Lime Quarry on Robben Island in Cape Town, South Africa, June 30, 2013. Ahmed Kathrada, a former prisoner in Robben Island Prison, leads their tour. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Today, our family visited Robben Island for an experience we will never forget. Robben Island is located off the coast of South Africa, and from the 1960s through the 1990s, this Island housed a maximum security prison. Many of the prisoners there – including the guide for our visit, a man named Ahmed Mohamed Kathrada – were activists who worked to bring down Apartheid, the South African government’s policies that discriminated against people of color.  Under Apartheid, people of different races were separated in nearly every part of South African society.  They were forced to attend separate schools, live in separate neighborhoods, even swim at separate beaches – and in nearly every case, the neighborhoods, schools and other facilities for black people were much worse than the ones for white people. 

    Among those imprisoned at Robben Island for fighting Apartheid were three men who went on to become President of South Africa: Nelson Mandela, Kgalema Motlanthe and the current president, Jacob Zuma.

    So today, as we toured the island, I couldn’t help but think about how this place must have shaped these leaders.  Put yourself in their shoes – all they were doing was fighting to ensure that people in South Africa would be treated equally, no matter what the color of their skin.  And for that, they wound up confined on this remote island, far removed from the world they so desperately hoped to change. 

  • Young African Leaders Initiative Town Hall

    President Barack Obama answers questions at a Young African Leaders Initiative Town Hall at the University of Johannesburg Soweto campus in Johannesburg, South Africa, June 29, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    On Saturday, President Obama participated in a town hall with the Young African Leaders Initiative at the University of Johannesburg-Soweto in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Young African Leaders Initiative launched in 2010 by President Obama supports leadership development, promotes entrepreneurship, and connects the next generation of African leaders with one another and the United States. Town hall participants included over 600 young leaders, ages 18-35, who are involved in public, private and civic organizations.  

    President Barack Obama greets audience members during a Young African Leaders Initiative Town Hall

    President Barack Obama greets audience members during a Young African Leaders Initiative Town Hall at the University of Johannesburg Soweto campus in Johannesburg, South Africa, June 29, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    At the start of the town hall, President Obama announced a significant expansion of this initiative - a new program called the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. This new program provides thousands of promising young Africans the opportunity to come to the United States in order to develop skills at public and private American colleges and universities. President Obama described the programs focused: 

    We’ll focus on civic leadership and public administration and business and entrepreneurship, the skills you need to serve your communities and start and grow businesses and run effective ministries.  And you’ll interact with Americans from all walks of life, because our citizens -- especially our young people -- can learn from you, too.  You’ll meet with leaders in business and nonprofits and government, including me.  And I look forward to welcoming you at a summit that I’ll host in Washington, because I want to hear directly from you -- your hopes, your dreams, what we can achieve together.

  • First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a Google+ Hangout on educatio

    First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a Google+ Hangout on education at the Sci Bono Discovery Center in in Johannesburg, South Africa, June 29, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    Today, through the wonders of technology, we brought together students here in South Africa with students across the U.S. who joined us through a Google+ Hangout for a lively town hall about the importance of education.  Singer and songwriter John Legend – who’s passionate about improving education – joined us from Los Angeles.  And singer and actress, Victoria Justice – who works with an organization called Girl Up that empowers girls around the world – beamed in from Houston. 

    First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks during a Google + Hangout on education at the Sci Bono Discovery Center

    First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks during a Google + Hangout on education at the Sci Bono Discovery Center in Johannesburg, South Africa, June 29, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

  • In this week’s address, President Obama tells the American people about a plan he unveiled a few days ago to confront the growing threat of climate change. His plan will cut carbon pollution, protect our country from the impacts of climate change, and lead the world in a coordinated assault on a changing climate.

    Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

  • On Thursday, with a strong bipartisan vote, the Senate passed an immigration reform bill, bringing us a critical step closer to fixing our broken immigration system. President Obama congratulated the passage of the Senate’s bill, which is largely consistent with the President’s key principles for commonsense reform. The bill continues to secure our borders; ensures that every worker and employer is held accountable, plays by the same rules and pays taxes like everyone else; establishes a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants; and modernizes the legal immigration system. The Senate’s passage of the bill was immediately met with support from bipartisan leaders and a broad spectrum of groups across the country – from Democrats to Republicans, business to labor leaders and clergy. Here’s a look into what they are saying:

    U.S. Chamber of Commerce | Thomas J. Donohue, President and CEO

    “Today the U.S. Senate took a major step forward in fixing America’s broken immigration system, securing our border, strengthening our economy and competitiveness, and reaffirming America’s legacy as an open and welcoming society. We commend the Gang of Eight for their leadership and applaud the bipartisan cooperation that made the bill’s passage possible.

    “We are pleased that the House is making its own progress. We recognize that the House will take a different approach on many components of reform and hope these differences can be reasonably resolved so that sound legislation can be sent to the president for approval. We will continue to work with all parties to help move this process forward. LINK

    Small Business Majority | John Arensmeyer, Founder & CEO

    “The Senate’s passage of the ‘Gang of Eight’s” bipartisan immigration legislation is great news for small business owners looking for intelligent fixes to our broken immigration system. While not perfect, the bill is full of provisions small employers strongly support and believe would help their businesses and our economy.


    “Everyone benefits when we encourage hard-working immigrants to bring their skillsets to the U.S. and let previously undocumented immigrants legally join our workforce, pay taxes and contribute in a meaningful way to our economy..” LINK

    National Association of Manufactures | Doug Oberhelman, Chairman of the NAM Board of Directors and Caterpillar Chairman and CEO & Jay Timmons, NAM President and CEO

    “It is critical that we have an immigration system that reflects the needs of our modern economy,” said Caterpillar Chairman and CEO and Chairman of the NAM Board of Directors Doug Oberhelman. “The benefits of reform—a lower deficit, bolstered economic growth, a skilled workforce and a renewed commitment to the principles that built America—are clear. At each step of this process, the NAM and manufacturers will work with Congress to ensure that reform becomes a reality.”


    “Comprehensive immigration reform represents a simple question: Do we want the next generation of innovation and life-altering ideas to originate in America, or are we content to allow other nations to surpass us?” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “Today’s Senate passage is evidence that bipartisanship can still be found in Washington, D.C., and manufacturers are grateful to the senators who came together to lead on this critical issue. However, there is still work to be done. The House of Representatives must take a page from the Senate and work together to pass comprehensive reform.” LINK

    Financial Services Forum | Rob Nichols, President and CEO

    “We are encouraged by the progress U.S. policymakers have made toward achieving comprehensive immigration reform today. A much-needed update of U.S. immigration policies will help strengthen our national security, increase our economic growth and international competitiveness, and attract and retain the best talent to the United States. We are hopeful the House will work to produce an immigration plan that meets the goals of increasing U.S. economic and job growth and promoting future innovation here in America. LINK

    Facebook | Mark Zuckerberg, CEO

    “While immigration is important for our economic future, it is also fundamentally an issue of who we are as people,” Zuckerberg wrote in a status update on his Facebook page. “While a lot work remains to be done before reform becomes law, today’s vote showed that Senators from across the political spectrum came together in a bipartisan way to vote for reform that will move our economy forward and honor our history as a nation of immigrants.”

    Pat Quinn, Governor, IL (D)

    “Immigration reform is not only the right thing to do. It will also stimulate Illinois’ economy over the next 10 years by creating an estimated 4,400 new jobs annually and generating $1.6 billion in additional taxes from immigrants to state coffers. It will send a signal that the people of the United States embrace the freedom-seekers and entrepreneurs who wish only for a shot at the American Dream and a chance to contribute.  As governor of one of the nation’s most immigrant-friendly states, I call on the U.S. House of Representatives to act quickly to pass this legislation.” LINK

  • Today, we arrived in South Africa, and I couldn’t be more excited, because two years ago, I visited this country for the first time with my mother and daughters, and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. 

    On that visit, I met with young women leaders from across the continent who were serving their countries and their communities – educating young people, providing job training for women, working to combat poverty and violence and disease – often in the face of impossible odds.  I also had the chance to spend time with young people from here in South Africa: I danced with children at a daycare center, visited the University of Cape Town with local high school students, and took part in a children’s soccer clinic at one of the stadiums used in the 2010 World Cup.

    I also had the chance to meet President Nelson Mandela at his home in Johannesburg, an experience that I will never forget.  Mandela – or “Madiba” as he’s referred to in South Africa – is truly a giant in world history.  As a young man, he led a movement against Apartheid – the South African government’s policies that discriminated against people of color, forcing them to live in separate neighborhoods and attend separate schools and prohibiting them from even voting in national elections.  For his defiance, Mandela was jailed for 27 years, and his struggle became a source of inspiration for people all around the world.

    Mrs. Obama Meets With Former South African President Nelson Mandela

    First Lady Michelle Obama meets with former President Nelson Mandela of South Africa at his home in Houghton, South Africa, June 21, 2011. Mrs. Obama viewed items from President Mandela's archives earlier during a tour of the Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

  • Watch the West Wing Week here.

    Meeting with Business Leaders: President Obama met with CEOs, business owners and entrepreneurs on Monday to discuss the economic benefits of comprehensive immigration reform. “We have a situation in which millions of individuals are in the shadow economy,” President Obama said, “oftentimes exploited at lower wages, and that hurts those companies that are following the rules, because they end up being at a disadvantage to some of these less scrupulous companies.”

    On Thursday, a bipartisan group of Senators voted to reform our nation’s immigration system. Although the Senate approved the bill, lawmakers in the House of Representatives still need to act.

    Texting with the President: Students from all across the country sent texts to President Obama this week, asking about his plans to keep interest rates on student loans from doubling in July. Working with, President Obama responded to questions from these students.

    Curbing Climate Change: On Tuesday, President Obama traveled across town to Georgetown University to lay out his plan to cut carbon pollution. The President explained the moral obligation we have to future generations – to “leave them a cleaner, safer, more stable world.”

    Leaders in the business community and the media support the President’s climate initiative. Check out an infographic explaining the President’s plan here.

  • In 2009, President Obama called on global leaders to increase their focus on food security and hunger. Since then, the United States has partnered with African nations to spur increased agricultural growth, improve nutrition, and move people out of poverty.

    President Barack Obama and USAID Administrator Raj Shah attend a Feed the Future Technology Marketplace

    President Barack Obama and USAID Administrator Raj Shah attend a Feed the Future Technology Marketplace in Dakar, Senegal, June 28, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Today, as part of our trip to three African countries, President Obama highlighted this partnership by meeting with farmers, innovators, and entrepreneurs who are improving the lives of smallholder farmers in Africa with new technology and methods of agriculture.  In the capital of Dakar, Senegal, he saw how women are using small-scale, efficient rice mills to save time for women and increase productivity. He heard of ways to fortify sweet potatoes and beans to increase nutritional benefits.  And he witnessed examples of using mobile technology to coordinate production and sales for small farmers to compete.

    Earlier in the morning, I participated in the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition roundtable.  Also attending from the U.S. delegation were USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, Special Assistant to the President and National Security Council Senior Director for Democracy and Development Gayle Smith, U.S. Ambassador to Senegal Lewis Lukens, Millennium Challenge Corporation CEO Daniel Yohannes, USAID Assistant Administrator for Africa Earl Gast, and Peace Corps Director for Senegal Chris Hedrick.

  • In September 2009, the President announced that—for the first time in history—White House visitor records would be made available to the public on an ongoing basis. Today's release includes visitor records generated during the month March 2013, and additional records from February 2013. This release brings the total number of records made public by this White House to nearly 3.3 million—all of which can be viewed in our Disclosures section.

    Ed. note: For more information, check out

  • Today we mark another important achievement for equal rights, this time for over a million Americans — and over 340 million people worldwide — who are blind, visually impaired, or with other print disabilities.

    In April, 2012, President Obama expressed the United States’ commitment to a treaty that “ensures that copyright is not a barrier to equal access to information, culture, and education for visually impaired persons and persons with print disabilities.” This week in Morocco, we made good on that commitment, joining with over 150 states in approving a landmark treaty that holds the potential to open up a world of knowledge to a population that is too often shut off from it.

    According to the World Blind Union, of the million or so books published in the world each year, less than 5 percent are made available in formats accessible to the visually-impaired. We call this “book famine.” No one has said it better than Stevie Wonder, the world-famous singer-songwriter and prominent advocate for the treaty: we must “end the information deprivation that continues to keep the visually impaired in the dark” — and today, we are proud to mark a major achievement in that effort.

  • This week, the President gave a major speech on climate change policy, hosted a roundtable discussion with business leaders, named a new director of the FBI, and welcomed the next class of Presidential Innovation Fellows.

  • When was the last time you can remember a week like this?

    On Tuesday, President Obama committed the full weight of American leadership to the fight against carbon pollution and climate change. Then on Wednesday, the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and took us one step closer to marriage equality.  

    It's not all been good news. Before the President spoke on Tuesday, the Supreme Court struck down one of the core provisions of the Voting Rights Act that has helped to protect one of Americans’ most fundamental rights for nearly 50 years. As the President said, it’s now up to Congress to ensure that every American has equal access to the polls. 

    But the most incredible thing about this week is that it's not over yet.  

    Today, 68 members of the U.S. Senate, Republicans and Democrats, came together and voted to reform our nation's immigration system. They voted for a bill that secures our borders and cracks down on employers who refuse to play by the rules. They voted for a bill that provides undocumented immigrants with a way to earn citizenship so they can come out of the shadows. They voted for a bill that provides visas to foreign entrepreneurs looking to start American businesses, reunites families, and helps the students and young people who've never known any home but America fully embrace the country that they love. 

  • On Tuesday, President Obama announced his comprehensive plan to reduce carbon pollution and lead global efforts against climate change. With our country facing increasingly volatile weather, rising sea levels and dangerous levels of pollution, the President presented clear steps that the administration will take to address these problems.

    However, as President Obama stated, climate change represents not only a challenge to America but also an opportunity for us to create sustainable employment and economic growth in the future in a vast array of fields, from building wind turbines in Iowa to designing the next generation of electric cars in California.

    With so much at stake in this debate, from the strength of our economy to the type of world we leave our children, newspapers across the country reported on the President’s common-sense plan. Here’s a sample of the coverage:

    CA – San Francisco Business Times (Riddell): SolarCity a big winner from Obama climate change speech Shares of SolarCity rocketed today after President Barack Obama's no-holds-barred climate change speech in which he laid out a broad series of steps to reduce pollution and save energy including upping the federal government's purchase of renewable energy to meet 20 percent of its total demand and encouraging widespread energy efficiency efforts. But the big boost to SolarCity, the San Mateo-based solar installer and project financing company, probably came from the Wal-Mart shout-out the President gave. He said more than 500 businesses, including Nike and General Motors, issued a declaration calling action on climate change "one of the greatest opportunities of the 21st century."

    NY – Syracuse Post-Standard (Weiner): President Obama to propose climate action plan President Barack Obama today will unveil a sweeping climate action plan that includes the first-ever carbon dioxide limits on new and existing power plants. Obama will outline his plan in a speech this afternoon at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., where aides say he will propose mandatory reductions on power plant emissions, the nation's single largest source of carbon-dioxide emissions.

    MN – The Minneapolis Star-Tribune (McAuliffe): Minnesota likely out in front of carbon emissions, climate change mandates Hamilton and several others with interests in environmental issues and climate impacts on local communities praised Obama’s announcement of the effort to address climate change, mostly for its emphasis on curbing carbon pollution. Putting limits on carbon dioxide emissions, as has been done for decades on other pollutants, is long overdue, they said.

  • After our visit to the Martin Luther King School, we boarded a ferry to Goree Island, a small island off Senegal’s coast. For roughly three hundred years until the mid-1840s, countless men, women and children from Africa were kidnapped from their homes and communities and brought to this island to be sold as slaves. 

    On our tour of the island, we saw the dark, cramped cells where dozens of people were packed together for months on end, with heavy chains around their necks and arms.  We saw the courtyard where they were forced to stand naked while buyers examined them, negotiated a price, and bought them as if they were nothing but property. And we saw what is known as “The Door of No Return,” a small stone doorway through which these men, women and children passed on their way to massive wooden ships that carried them across the ocean to a life of slavery in the United States and elsewhere – a brutal journey known as the “Middle Passage”. 

  • After having a lovely tea with Mrs. Sall, the First Lady of Senegal, we headed to the Martin Luther King (MLK) school, an all-girls middle school in Dakar, which is Senegal’s capital city. I had a chance to speak to about 150 members of the ninth grade class and their teachers. The girls put on a wonderful dance performance and delivered presentations they had prepared – in excellent English (they normally speak French). One of them even performed Etta James' "At Last," and she absolutely blew me away – let me tell you, that young woman could sing. 

    First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks in Senegal

    First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks as she and First Lady Marème Sall visit Martin Luther King Middle School, an all-girls school, in Dakar, Senegal. June 27, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    The First Lady talks with students

    First Lady Michelle Obama talks with students in their classroom during a visit to Martin Luther King Middle School, an all-girls school, in Dakar, Senegal. June 27, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    The more time I spent with these extraordinary young women – girls living halfway across the world from where I was born in raised – the more I saw how similar their stories are to my own. Like my own parents, many of these girls’ parents never had the chance to get the kind of education they hoped for. And like the family I grew up in, many of their families don’t have much money. 

    But no matter what challenges these girls are facing in their lives, they come to school every day eager to learn, and they spend hours each night studying and doing their homework. They also work hard to develop themselves as leaders, running their own student government and meeting with distinguished women leaders, including a number of CEOs and high-ranking government officials. And their hard work is paying off – students from MLK perform very well on their exams, and girls who graduate from this school go on to become accomplished businesswomen, scientists, artists, athletes and more. 

  • President Barack Obama participates in a joint press conference with President Macky Sall of Senegal at the Presidential Palace in Dakar, Senegal

    President Barack Obama participates in a joint press conference with President Macky Sall of Senegal at the Presidential Palace in Dakar, Senegal, June 27, 2013 (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    President Obama was in Senegal today, the first stop on his three-country trip to Africa.

    The day began with an arrival ceremony and bilateral meeting with President Sall at the Presidential Palace in Dakar. The two leaders also held a press conference.

    President Barack Obama and President Macky Sall of Senegal hold a bilateral meeting at the Presidential Palace in Dakar, Senegal

    President Barack Obama and President Macky Sall of Senegal hold a bilateral meeting at the Presidential Palace in Dakar, Senegal, June 27, 2013. Tony Blinken, Deputy National Security Advisor, is seated at left. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    At Dakar’s La Cour Suprême, President Obama met with judicial leaders from across Africa to discuss the importance of an independent judiciary system and respect for the rule of law. “I believe that the rule of law is a foundation for governance and also a foundation for human rights and economic growth,” President Obama said during their meeting. “It’s a pillar of our democracy.”

  • This week, the First Lady is joining President Obama on an official visit to Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania. During the trip, Mrs. Obama will meet with young people across the continent and highlight the power of education.

    On Saturday, June 29th, the First Lady is hosting a special event that will connect young people in South Africa with young people in the U.S. to discuss the importance of education and our shared future -- and you can be a part of it. Here's how:

    During this event, in conjunction with MTV Base, an African youth and music TV channel, and Google+, the First Lady and MTV Base VJ Sizwe Dhlomo will join students in South Africa for a virtual discussion with young people in cities around the U.S., including:

    • Girl Up, a United Nations Foundation that unites girls to change the world, will join from Houston, Texas. In addition to the students joining the hangout, Girl Up is hosting dozens of watch parties around the country.
    • John Legend and students involved in his Show Me Campaign, a global campaign fighting for equal access to quality education, will join from Los Angeles, California.
    • Y Global Teens, a YMCA program that provides underprivileged youth with an international service learning experience, will join from New York City. Through the program, these students will visit the Cape Town YMCA.
    • From Google Fiber Space in Kansas City, participants will join that are part of the KC STEM Alliance to promote and inspire interest in science, technology, engineering and math education

    This Google+ Hangout with the First Lady kicks off a series of global virtual field trips on Google+ that will launch in the school year. Stay tuned for opportunities to participate in events with the State Department, Global Nomads Group, a nonprofit organization that facilitates cultural exchanges, and others. Check out the Global Nomads Google+ Community to connect with peers around the world right now and stay engaged.

  • President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and members of the First Family are welcomed at Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport In Yoff, Senegal

    President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and members of the First Family are welcomed at Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport In Yoff, Senegal, June 26, 2013. Senegal President Macky Sall, left, and First Lady Marème Sall greeted the Obamas upon their arrival to Senegal. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Yesterday, President Obama, his family, and the U.S. delegation began our trip to Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania, as part of our commitment to invest in Africa’s development and its people. It is my first trip to these countries, and I look forward to meeting new faces from each country.

    In 2010, President Obama hosted a forum with 115 young leaders from more than 40 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. They traveled more than 4,000 miles to discuss the continent’s future and promise at the White House and State Department. The young leaders embraced the challenge of leading sub-Saharan Africa for the next generation, and this week, we are excited to meet more young people who are taking up the mantle.

    We all know that Africa is a new center of global growth, and is creating more opportunities for its people than ever before.  The challenge is to ensure these gains are expanded to benefit all Africans. 

    As such, during this trip, President Obama will highlight three major themes:

    First, increasing U.S. trade and investment.  We are redoubling our efforts to create an environment that enables greater trade, and investment, through encouraging regional integration, legal reforms that break down barriers to the free flow of goods, and services, greater transparency, and anti-corruption measures.

    President Obama will also highlight the need to increase access to electricity, and expand trade, and investment. I will be participating in roundtables with United States Trade Representative Mike Froman to highlight business opportunities between the United States, and African countries. We will also discuss our effective partnerships on food security, and global health, which are delivering results by reducing hunger, and under-nutrition, improving child survival, and moving people out of poverty.

  • On Tuesday, President Obama laid out his plan to reduce carbon pollution — just like we have for other toxins like mercury and arsenic — so we protect the health of our children, move our economy toward American-made clean energy sources that will create good jobs and lower energy bills, and begin to slow the effects of climate change. The plan was immediately met with broad support from business leaders across a broad array of industries. Here’s a quick look at what they’re saying:

    Business Roundtable recognizes the potential consequences of climate change and supports both government and private sector actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally. The President’s proposals today are a mix of commonsense steps we can all support – such as increasing energy efficiency across all sectors of the economy – and measures that will require additional careful attention to ensure they can be deployed in an equitable and effective global framework. For instance, we look forward to reviewing how the Administration plans to regulate emissions from existing power plants. Partnering with industry and stakeholders will be critical to a smart, economically sound approach. The Roundtable has advocated for increased permitting of alternative energy projects and collaboration between the public and private sectors on technology, efficiency and transmission investment, and is pleased to see a renewed commitment from the President. Significant changes to the U.S. tax code should be made only within the context of comprehensive tax reform, not on an ad hoc basis targeting specific industries.”

    Business Roundtable | Dave Cote, Chairman and CEO of Honeywell and Chair of Business Roundtable’s Energy and Environment Committee

    We applaud the President and his administration for their commitment to renewable energy and conservation. Investing in renewable energy and energy conservation are good for business, good for communities and good for the environment. When we use less energy, that’s less energy we have to buy, and that means less waste and more savings for our customers. Over the last few years we’ve made meaningful progress towards our goal to be supplied by 100 percent renewable energy. Walmart now has over 300 renewable energy projects in operation or under development around the world, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has named us the number one user of onsite renewable energy. As we continue on our journey we will continue to leverage our scale in purchasing energy so we can drive down technology costs and make renewable power more affordable for everyone.

    Walmart | Mike Duke, President and CEO

    “Dominion has long been committed to a comprehensive national energy and environmental policy that balances the nation’s needs for clean, reliable and affordable energy with reducing our environmental footprint -- a plan that is cost effective, economy wide and market based. …As the President’s proposal recognizes, the nation must continue to rely on an “all of the above” approach that includes renewable energy, advanced nuclear, natural gas and clean coal technologies as well as energy efficiency, conservation and demand-side management. The key will be doing so in a way that recognizes the broader energy and economic issues through regulatory certainty, compliance flexibility, technological feasibility and cost effectiveness.”

    Dominion Resources | Thomas F. Farrell II, Chairman, President and CEO

    “The President appears to be taking a balanced approach to addressing the issue. The focus on resilience, clean coal technologies, electric vehicles, energy efficiency and transmission investment demonstrates that the Administration is looking at a full portfolio of actions to address the issue - not just cutting emissions from power plants. We look forward to working with the Administration to support those efforts.”

    American Electric Power | Melissa McHenry, Spokeswoman

    “Nike applauds President Obama’s leadership to mitigate climate change.  Nike, together with a number of other companies, has signed the BICEP Climate Declaration urging action on climate change and we are supportive of the President’s focus on tackling this systemic challenge.  Now is the time to work together on an innovative, bold framework.   We look forward to reviewing the details of the President’s plans and working with the Administration, Congress, and other businesses to move forward on strategies to address climate change.”

    Nike | Hannah Jones, VP Sustainable Business & Innovation

  • Yesterday, I joined Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a meeting with early education stakeholders who are working to advance a call that the President made in his State of the Union address.  These organizations shared with the Administration all they have been doing to raise their voice and their support all over the country to advance the President’s proposals for early education.

    In the State of the Union address the President said:

    Study after study shows that the sooner a child begins learning, the better he or she does down the road. But today, fewer than 3 in 10 four year-olds are enrolled in a high-quality preschool program. Most middle-class parents can’t afford a few hundred bucks a week for a private preschool. And for poor kids who need help the most, this lack of access to preschool education can shadow them for the rest of their lives. So tonight, I propose working with states to make high-quality preschool available to every single child in America. That's something we should be able to do.

    The President has called for three proposals to support our youngest Americans: Preschool for All, Early Head Start-Child Care Parnterships, and an expansion of the Home Visiting program. These are proposals we should implement because the beginning years of a child’s life are critical for building the early foundation needed for success later in school and in career.  Leading economists agree that high-quality early education programs can help level the playing field for children from lower-income families on vocabulary, social and emotional development, while helping students to stay on track and stay engaged in the early elementary grades.