Obama gives "sustainable energy" top billing in inaugural address

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By Denver Nicks, Associate Editor, Power Engineering

In a wide-ranging inaugural address that touched on themes from income inequality to gay marriage to Medicare, President Obama devoted a substantial segment to reaffirming his commitment to combating climate change and investing in the development of what he termed “sustainable” sources of energy.

Insisting that the failure to respond to the threat of climate change “would betray our children and future generations,” the president invoked economic necessity in calling for renewed American investment in “sustainable energy” sources.

“Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms," he said. "The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways, our croplands and snowcapped peaks."

The focus on “sustainable energy” could please some environmental activists, many of whom have been disappointed with a perceived lack of action on climate change by the president followed by a presidential campaign in which climate change was hardly mentioned as an issue. The emphasis on “sustainable energy” may, however, raise some eyebrows in the energy sector, as the language could be interpreted as a departure from the president’s stated “all of the above” energy strategy.

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