WASHINGTON – Former President Bill Clinton said Wednesday that the Obama administration is making great strides in creating green jobs, but environment-friendly industries are still not getting recognition.
“We’re left with a time of real excitement here, that probably won’t make the front page of The Washington Post tomorrow unless I say something outrageous, which will embarrass the secretary of State.”
The former president spoke to the Energy Innovation Summit, sponsored by the federal Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. The conference brought together leaders from educational, business and government backgrounds to discuss energy ideas for the upcoming year. Other notable 2012 speakers included Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Clinton reinforced many economic and environmental themes from President Barack Obama’s recent State of the Union address. He repeatedly praised the Obama administration, supporting the current president’s energy strategy as “making progress” in a weak economy.
“I am a huge fan,” Clinton said. “You have the company, the government, the union, the environmental groups, in an agreement that will dramatically reduce our reliance on oil, dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and over the next few years create 150,000 new jobs. That needs to be hammered home.”
As the president during an era of economic prosperity, Clinton had quite a bit to say about the nation’s current unemployment crisis. He is working with the administration on Obama’s Better Buildings Challenge. The initiative focuses on improving energy efficiency in commercial buildings while stimulating job growth.
Clinton said it already has had results — a retrofit project on the Empire State Building cut emissions and utility charges by 40 percent in addition to creating nearly 275 full time jobs.
“This is a huge deal for America’s biggest unemployment problem: non college educated middle-aged people who can do this work, men and increasingly women,” Clinton said. “This is the biggest return on jobs the government invest[s] in.”
Recent environmental issues, such as the Keystone XL pipeline, have split Washington.
“We’re the only major country in the world that has one political party where apparently it’s ideologically imperative to deny the reality of a climate change,” he said.
Clinton called on energy innovators in the crowd, congratulating them on progress already made and urging them to help ensure all Americans understand what is being done to solve the energy crisis.
“Our economic future is not threatened by what you’re doing,” he said, “it depends on the success of what you are doing.”