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Obama promotes clean energy at Michigan battery plant

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With our shores covered in oil and Congress debating a climate bill, it's time for President Obama to pull out all the stops and start promoting a clean energy economy as key to our economic recovery and saving the planet.

Today, we began to get a taste of what that could look like. This afternoon, President Obama spoke in Holland, MI at the site of a new factory being built by Compact Power, an advanced battery company.

The President made a powerful pitch his economic recovery plan. He spoke of cutting taxes for 95 percent of working families in Michigan and across the country and the importance of the federal government laying a foundation for small businesses to build on.

Obama was at his best when he got down to the specifics of what could be accomplished in the battery sector alone:

And by the way, these aren't just any jobs. These are jobs in the industries of the future. Just a few years ago, American businesses manufactured only 2 percent of the world's advanced batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles -- 2 percent. But because of what's happening in places like this, in just five years we'll have up to 40 percent of the world's capacity -- 40 percent. (Applause.) So for years you've been hearing about manufacturing jobs disappearing overseas. You are leading the way in showing how manufacturing jobs are coming right back here to the United States of America. (Applause.)

The President also went after Republicans for blocking progress:

There are some folks who want to go back -- who think that we should return to the policies that helped to lead to this recession. Some of them made the political calculation that it's better to obstruct than to lend a hand. They said no to tax cuts, they said no to small business loans, they said no to clean energy projects. Now, it doesn't stop them from being at ribbon-cuttings -- (laughter) -- but that's okay. I just want to make sure that everybody understands that this country would not be better off if this plant hadn't gotten built and if the clean energy package that made it possible wasn't in place. (Applause.)

Missing from the speech was a single reference to the legislation currently being debated in Congress. If the energy and climate bill has any chance of passing the Senate it's going to need the full endorsement of the President. I can hardly think of a better opportunity than at an advanced battery plant in America's heartland.

Or perhaps there is one place . . .

Just last week, I helped launch a new campaign with 350.org, PutSolarOn.It, to try and convince President Obama to install solar panels on the roof of the White House. Sure, it's a symbolic gesture, but it would be a powerful chance for Obama to send a clear message to the entire nation: this is our future.

It would be a chance for Obama to stand up on his own roof and walk some clean energy talk -- and then push hard for Congress to do the same. (You can add your voice to the effort by visiting the PutSolarOn.It website).

President Obama is starting to make the pitch for clean energy. Now it's time for him to shout it from the rooftops.

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