Obama Speech on Clean Energy at MIT

A repost from the Viridus blog:  Earlier today I was in the audience of students, faculty, local entrepreneurs and politicians at MIT when President Obama delivered a speech on clean energy. His talk was brief but made some notable points. The main point, I think, was him exhorting the country to “take a risk on ideas that might fail, but that could also change the world.” Obama cited as examples some research at MIT where scientists are using viruses to grow batteries instead of building them. Pretty cool.

Obama started by touting recent achievements in advancing clean energy research and development. Apparently there is $80 billion of the stimulus money ear marked for green projects. And Obama mentioned Governor Patrick’s tripling of investment in energy efficiency (the biggest short term opportunity, in my view).

He then simultaneously held out a carrot and stick saying that the Pentagon had declared America’s dependence on foreign oil a security risk and that there was a $2 trillion potential market in wind energy over the next two decades (Massachusetts just won some federal grant money to build a wind blade test facility).

I haven’t read the press coverage on his speech yet, but I bet most will pick up on what he called the biggest obstacle to advancing clean energy legislation. What he called the “myth that there is little or nothing we can do; that politics is broken.” I’m not sure that’s the biggest obstacle, but it’s real for sure.

He finished with some of the best lines of the speech saying that “Today’s frontiers can’t be found on a map” and that “pioneers are not off in the wilderness but all around us.” How true. I see that on Viridus everyday where dedicated, passionate and talented professionals are advancing corporate sustainability.
You can see Obama’s speech streamed online here thanks to the good folks at MIT.

By the way, the legislation that Obama mentioned (but did not go into any detail about) was the Boxer-Kerry bill, proposed climate change legislation. I’ve embed a summary version below or you can click on the previous link for all 800+ pages of goodness.

The center piece of the proposed legislation is a cap-and-trade program where the initial credits are auctioned off. This would put a price on a ton of CO2 and would do so rather quickly, similar to RGGI, here in New England. Come join the discussion on Virid.us on how this proposed legislation would affect business and the environment.

Lastly, I just have to say that I was able to briefly meet the President and shake his hand which was pretty cool.