President Obama Signs Orders Aimed at Energy Independence and Economic Recovery

Following a press briefing this morning, President Barack Obama signed new executive orders intended to spur “swift action” on both U.S. economic recovery and American energy independence.

Noting that presidents at least as far back as Nixon have talked about energy independence, President Obama noted that “Rhetoric has not led to the hard work” needed to make energy independence a reality. “I cannot promise a quick fix,” he said, but he promised “steady, focused, pragmatic pursuit” of energy independence.

Toward that end, he announced three “first steps.” The first entails creating a new American energy economy, which involves passage of the proposed American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan.

Today’s comments repeated the plan’s details shared in his weekly address on Jan. 24: “To accelerate the creation of a clean energy economy, we will double our capacity to generate alternative sources of energy like wind, solar, and biofuels over the next three years. We’ll begin to build a new electricity grid that lay down more than 3,000 miles of transmission lines to convey this new energy from coast to coast. We’ll save taxpayers $2 billion a year by making 75% of federal buildings more energy efficient, and save the average working family $350 on their energy bills by weatherizing 2.5 million homes.”

Today, the president announced that this plan would put 460,000 Americans to work in clean energy and transmission jobs over the next three years.

The second step mentioned in today’s announcement is a commitment to helping American auto manufacturers build tomorrow’s fuel-efficient cars that will be in conformance with new fuel-efficiency standards for model year 2011.

The third step in President Obama’s plan is for the federal government to work with states to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, rather than at cross-purposes, which is already beginning to create a “confusing patchwork” of regulations. One result of this new focus is to order the EPA to review its Bush-era denial of California’s request for a waiver allowing it to set higher vehicle tailpipe emissions standards than those set nationally. Thirteen other states are considering similar standards.

On the matter of GHG emissions and climate change, the president also called for global cooperation, noting that “America is ready to lead.”

Correction (Feb. 2): The White House identifies the documents signed on Jan. 26 as memoranda rather than executive orders.

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