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President Obama's Energy Speech at MIT

President Barack Obama has been a courageous supporter of clean energy. He spoke October 23, 2009, to an audience of 750 at the MIT campus in Cambridge, MA. Here are our Founding Editor's take-aways from the speech, plus a link to the video and full transcript.

President Barack Obama speech image at Energy Priorities Magazine

President Barack Obama speech image at Energy Priorities Magazine

President Barack Obama speech image at Energy Priorities Magazine

President Barack Obama speech image at Energy Priorities Magazine

President Obama was introduced by MIT President Susan Hockfield and Professor Ernest Moniz, Director of the Massachussetts Institute of Technology Energy Initiative (MITEI).

Obama opened by recalling major steps in the history and heritage of American scientific research, from the dedication of research universities such as MIT, to the GI Bill, to the space race. He said it is a reminder that Americans are heirs to a legacy of innovation that has improved health, well-being and prosperity, but that legacy is facing challenges and threats.

"So the truth is, we have always been about innovation, we have always been about discovery. That's in our DNA. The truth is we also face more complex challenges than generations past. A medical system that holds the promise of unlocking new cures is attached to a health care system that has the potential to bankrupt families and businesses and our government. A global marketplace that links the trader on Wall Street to the homeowner on Main Street to the factory worker in China -- an economy in which we all share opportunity is also an economy in which we all share crisis. There are threats to our security that are based on those who would seek to exploit the very interconnectedness and openness that's so essential to our prosperity. The system of energy that powers our economy also undermines our security and endangers our planet."

There will be many debates over how to transition to clean energy sources and prevent the worst consequences of climate change, Obama said, but there is no question that Americans must do those things. The United States has the potential to remain the gobal economic leader by moving quickly to develop clean energy technologies for the world's benefit.

"Countries on every corner of this Earth now recognize that energy supplies are growing scarcer, energy demands are growing larger, and rising energy use imperils the planet we will leave to future generations. And that's why the world is now engaged in a peaceful competition to determine the technologies that will power the 21st century. From China to India, from Japan to Germany, nations everywhere are racing to develop new ways to produce and use energy. The nation that wins this competition will be the nation that leads the global economy. I am convinced of that. And I want America to be that nation. It's that simple."

Obama noted that the stimulus bill is funding research and creating jobs, as well as investing in the science that will create the technologies of the future.

"The Recovery Act represents the largest single boost in scientific research in history. That's an increase in funding that's already making a difference right here on this campus. And my budget also makes the research and experimentation tax credit permanent -- a tax credit that spurs innovation and jobs, adding two dollars to the economy for every dollar that it costs."

He acknowledged but firmly rejected arguments that climate change is not real, that mitigating it will destroy the economy, and that it is too late to do anything to avoid either. Consensus is building, he said, to transform our energy system and grow the economy, and America is up to the task.

"We have always sought out new frontiers and this generation is no different. Today's frontiers can't be found on a map. They're being explored in our classrooms and our laboratories, in our start-ups and our factories. And today's pioneers are not traveling to some far flung place. These pioneers are all around us -- the entrepreneurs and the inventors, the researchers, the engineers -- helping to lead us into the future, just as they have in the past. This is the nation that has led the world for two centuries in the pursuit of discovery. This is the nation that will lead the clean energy economy of tomorrow, so long as all of us remember what we have achieved in the past and we use that to inspire us to achieve even more in the future."

Video is available at the MIT web site. A full transcript available courtesy of the White House Press Secretary.