'This is an American issue'

Remarks of President Barack Obama Friday at the Landover UPS facility

April 01, 2011|By Office of the Press Secretary, the White House

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Hello, everybody. Thank you so much. Everybody, please have a seat.

I am thrilled to be here, proud to be joined here today by two of our outstanding Cabinet Secretaries, Steven Chu and Ray LaHood. Where are Steven Chu and Ray? There they are over there. We're here today for a simple reason: Ray wasn't home when they tried to deliver a package yesterday — (laughter) — so we thought we'd just grab it and be on our way. (Laughter.) I've been working them too hard.

In addition to Steve and Ray, we also have the Attorney General of Maryland, Doug Gansler, is here. (Applause.) And we've got one of the finest senators in the United States Senate, from Maryland, Ben Cardin is in the house. (Applause.)

We actually didn't come here for — to grab a package. We're actually here to announce an exciting new partnership between the federal government and some of America's leading companies — a partnership that will help reduce our dependence on oil, that will protect our planet, and will spur economic growth.

I gave a speech about this earlier this week, and I laid out a blueprint that will put America on a path toward a clean energy future. I know a lot of folks have been feeling the pinch of higher gas prices lately, whether you're filling up your tank or you're running a business like UPS. And usually it's times like these when everybody starts saying we should do something about our dependence on oil. And when prices go back down, we forget about it and we move on until the next crisis hits.

The point I made earlier this week is that we can't keep on doing that. That's not how we should conduct our energy policy in this country. We can't go from shock to trance, rushing the proposed action when gas prices rise and then hitting the snooze button when they go back down. We've got to have a steady, sustained, smart strategy. And at a time when we're addressing instability overseas, we know this is a national security issue, and it's a huge economic issue.

Nearly two years after one of the worst recessions in our history — certainly the worst one in our lifetimes — our economy is showing signs of real strength. Today we learned that we added 230,000 private sector jobs last month. (Applause.) That's good news. That means more packages. (Laughter.) Right? (Applause.) That makes 1.8 million private sector jobs created in the last 13 months. And the unemployment rate has now fallen a full point in the last four months. And the last time that happened was during the recovery in 1984, where we saw such a significant drop in the unemployment rate.

Now, despite that good news, everybody here knows we've got a lot of more work to do. There are still millions of Americans out there that are looking for a job that pays the bills. I know there's a lot going on in the world right now, and so the news has been captured by the images of the Middle East and what's happening, the tragedy to our friends in Japan.

And I'm focused on those issues, but you should know that keeping the economy going and making sure jobs are available is the first thing I think about when I wake up the morning; it's the last thing I think about when I go to bed each night. And I will not be satisfied until every American who wants a good job can find one and every American gets a shot at the American Dream. That's what we're focused on. That's what we're fighting for. (Applause.)

So although we got good news today, we have to keep the momentum going. And making the transition to a clean energy economy will help us do that in two very important ways. First, it reduces the chance that our families, our businesses, and our economy will be held hostage to the whims of the oil market — will be held hostage to something that happens on the other side of the world. Second, investments in clean energy have the potential to create an untold number of new jobs and new industries right here in the United States.

So for all these reasons, I set a new goal for America: When I was first elected to this office, America imported 11 million barrels of oil a day — 11 million barrels. [By a little more than] A decade from now, I want us to have cut that by one-third. That is achievable, it is necessary, it's good for our future, and we are going to get it done. I'm confident we can get it done. (Applause.)

Now, to meet that goal, we're going to need to pursue a broad range of policies -- new incentives for natural gas fleets, new research on advanced biofuels. And my hope is, is that members of both parties — Republicans and Democrats -- will support these kinds of proposals. This shouldn't be a partisan issue. This is an American issue— making sure that we've got energy security and energy independence.

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