President directs Congress to focus on energy

By Kris Bevill
Web exclusive posted Feb. 27, 2009, at 11:15 a.m. CST

"It begins with energy." Those were the words of U.S. President Barack Obama during his Feb. 24 address to the joint session of Congress as he attempted to instill confidence that the country can recover from the current recession.

Obama re-avowed his commitment to renewable energy by stating that energy is the first of three areas critical to the country's economic future. "To truly transform our economy, protect our security and save our planet from the ravages of climate change, we need to ultimately make clean, renewable energy the profitable kind of energy," he said.

Obama also called on Congress to draft carbon cap-and-trade legislation. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., ranking minority member of the Senate's environment and public works committee blasted Obama's request for a cap-and-trade system and said it would result in the largest annual tax increase in the history of America. "As bad as the stimulus spending bill was, this would be much worse because instead of being one-time spending, the cap-and-trade tax increase would keep occurring year after year," he said. "During times of economic turmoil it is folly to impose more pain on families by intentionally raising their energy costs through cap and trade."

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., said he looks forward to working with the president in solving the country's economic problems as related to energy reform. Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., said the challenge of reviving the economy is directly related to a handful of issues, including energy independence. "I am committed to working with my colleagues in Congress to build bipartisan coalitions to make progress in all of these areas," he said.

During his speech to Congress, Obama also declared that the government will invest $15 billion annually to develop renewable energy technologies, including advanced biofuels and fuel-efficient vehicles. "None of this will come without cost, nor will it be easy," he said. "But this is America. We don't do what's easy. We do what is necessary to move this country forward."

A full transcript of Obama's remarks can be viewed at