THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
EMBARGOED UNTIL DELIVERY
April 27, 2010
Remarks of President Barack Obama—As Prepared for Delivery
Siemens Wind Turbine Blade Manufacturing Plant
Fort Madison, Iowa
April 27, 2010
As Prepared for Delivery—
Good afternoon, everybody. Thank you for that warm welcome. It's so good to be back in Iowa and in Fort Madison. I just finished a tour of this impressive facility and saw how they create these giant wind blades. It was remarkable, made all the more so when you consider that just a few short years ago, this facility sat dark and quiet. Today, it's alive and humming with more than 600 employees, almost two-thirds of whom found themselves unemployed before landing here. And this plant supports more than 350 other jobs throughout Lee County.
Here, you manufacture blades for some of the most advanced wind turbines in the world; each as tall as Air Force One is long; each capable of generating enough energy to power hundreds of homes, just by harnessing the wind.
Here, you're helping stake America's claim on a clean energy future. And you're staking Fort Madison's claim on America's future.
That's why I've come to Iowa today. To talk with folks like you about the economic pain that towns like this are feeling – but also about their economic potential.
Lately, we've been able to report some welcome news after a hard two years. Our economy is growing. Our markets are climbing. Our businesses are beginning to create jobs again.
But in too many places, the recovery isn't reaching everyone just yet. Times are still tough in towns like Fort Madison. And times are still tough for middle-class Americans, who had been swimming against the current for years before the economic tidal wave hit.
So even as we took steps to rescue our economy and recover from this crisis, we took steps to rebuild our economy on a new foundation for long-term growth and prosperity – to create conditions so that folks who work hard can finally get ahead.
That means making our schools more competitive and college more affordable. That means health insurance reform that gives families and businesses more choice, more competition, and more protection from the worst abuses of the insurance industry. That means commonsense reforms that prevent the irresponsibility of a few on Wall Street from threatening the dreams of millions on Main Street. And that means igniting a new, clean energy economy that generates good jobs right here in America.
For decades, we talked about this. We talked about how our dependence on fossil fuels threatened our economy; but our will to act rose and fell with the price of a barrel of oil. We talked about how it threatened future generations; even as we witnessed the mounting evidence of climate change. We talked about how it threatened our national security; even as that dependence grew deeper with every passing year.
And as we talked, other nations acted. From China to Spain, other nations recognized that the country that leads the clean energy economy will be the country that leads the 21st century global economy. And they made serious investments to win that race and the jobs that come with it.
Well, I don't accept second place for the United States of America. That's why our energy security has been a top priority for my administration since the day I took office.
We began early last year by making the largest investment in clean energy in our nation's history. It's an investment expected to create or save more than 700,000 jobs across America by the end of 2012 – jobs manufacturing next-generation batteries for next-generation vehicles; jobs upgrading to a smarter, stronger power grid; jobs doubling America's capacity to generate renewable electricity from sources like the sun and the wind, just like you do here.
That investment was part of the Recovery Act. And this facility took advantage of that act's Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit; which allowed you to add equipment, boost output, and hire new workers right here in Fort Madison. In the midst of economic turmoil, the Recovery Act helped make it possible for America to install nearly 10 gigawatts of new wind generating capacity last year alone – enough to power more than 2.4 million American homes. And each new wind farm has the potential to create hundreds of construction jobs, and dozens of permanent local jobs, in communities just like Fort Madison.
One study suggests that if we pursue our full potential for wind energy, and everything goes right, wind could generate as much as 20 percent of America's electricity 20 years from now. While that may be on the high end of what's possible, it may soon be the reality here in Iowa. This state already generates a higher percentage of its electricity from wind than any other state – 14 percent – and that number is only growing.
As extraordinary as this facility is, however, wind power isn't the silver bullet that will solve all our energy challenges. There isn't one. But it is a key part of a comprehensive strategy to move us from an economy that runs on fossil fuels to one that relies on more homegrown fuels and clean energy. And I believe that we can come together around this issue and pass comprehensive energy and climate legislation that will ignite new industries, spark new jobs in towns like this, and make America more energy independent. Our security, our economy, and the future of our planet depend on it.
This is what's possible in a clean energy economy. And while it may not feel like it every day when you punch in; you are making it possible. You're blazing a trail. And someday, our children, and our children's children; will look back on this moment and marvel at a generation that chose, in a time of crisis, to place its bet on the future; that chose to reopen factories, restart assembly lines, and retrain workers; that chose to once again step forward and meet the challenges of our time. Thank you, everybody.