President Obama promoted new plans Friday designed to boost solar power and promote energy efficiency, saying both will reduce the environmental threats from climate change.
“There are cost-effective ways to tackle climate change and create jobs at the same time,” Obama said during a visit to a Wal-Mart in Mountain View, Calif., near San Jose.
White House officials said Obama’s commitment begins at home, as they announced the completion of solar panels on the White House roof. Spokesman Matt Lehrich said the panels on the first family’s residence are “part of an energy retrofit that will improve the overall energy efficiency of the building.”
President Jimmy Carter also installed solar panels at the White House, but President Ronald Reagan had them removed.
Obama’s 14-minute speech at the Mountain View Wal-Mart wrapped up a three-day trip to California that involved mostly campaign fundraisers.
The president outlined what aides called some 300 “private and public sector commitments” designed to create jobs and reduce carbon pollution.
The remarks came three days after the administration issued a report saying that climate change caused by pollution is already damaging the environment and triggering extreme weather conditions.
Washington still has “some climate deniers who shout loud, but they’re wasting everybody’s time on a settled debate,” Obama said. “Climate change is a fact.”
The initiatives Obama announced Friday include programs aimed at financing new solar business ventures, training and developing a solar workforce, and enforcing new building codes to promote efficiency.
Private companies, including Wal-Mart, are committing to similar projects, the White House said.
The plans are projected to create enough new solar energy to power more than 130,000 homes, and energy savings that are the equivalent of taking 80 million cars off the road for one year, the White House said.
“Cities, schools, businesses, the federal government — we’re all going to pledge to waste less energy and we’ve got concrete strategies that we know work,” Obama said.
And because more American homes and businesses are going solar every day, “solar is getting cheaper and is getting easier to use than before,” Obama said.
Obama said he is taking executive actions on the environment because “Congress has not always been as visionary on these issues as we would like.”
Congressional Republicans said they support renewable energy, but Obama’s plan should include more domestic energy production, including the proposed Keystone oil pipeline.
“The president can’t claim an ‘all of the above’ strategy while he’s blocking the Keystone pipeline, slow-rolling the approval of new energy exploration, and proposing job-killing regulations that will destroy the American coal industry,” said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.