, January 16, 2009 (ENS) - President-elect Barack Obama today visited a factory in Bedford Heights, Ohio that is the largest manufacturer in the United States of the giant bolts used to construct wind turbines.
Obama used his visit to Cardinal Fastener near Cleveland to showcase his Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, which aims to save or create three to four million American jobs and make the long-term investments needed to rebuild the economy.
Bolts made by Cardinal are holding together the Statue of Liberty, the Golden Gate Bridge, an airport in Saudi Arabia, an amusement park roller coaster and most U.S. indoor arenas and outdoor stadiums, but the company only began making wind turbine parts two years ago.
Addressing the workers after a tour of the factory, Obama said, "The story of this company is that a renewable energy economy isn't some pie-in-the-sky, far-off future. It's happening all across America right now. It's providing alternatives to foreign oil now. It can create millions of additional jobs and entire new industries if we act right now."
The need to act immediately is urgent, he said, particularly for the wind power industry.
"I'm told that if we don't act now, because of the economic downturn, half of the wind projects planned for 2009 could wind up being abandoned," Obama said. "Think about that. Think about all the businesses that wouldn't come to be, all the jobs that wouldn't be created, all the clean energy we wouldn't produce."
Obama pointed to Spain, Germany and Japan, where, he said "they're making real investments in renewable energy" and "surging ahead of us, poised to take the lead in these new industries."
"This isn't because they're smarter than us, or work harder than us, or are more innovative than we are," he said. "It's because their governments have harnessed their people's hard work and ingenuity with bold investments - investments that are paying off in good, high-wage jobs - jobs they won't lose to other countries."
Worker at Cardinal Fastener (Photo courtesy of Cardinal Fastener)
"There is no reason we can't do the same thing right here in America," Obama said.
Obama said the first job of his administration "is to put people back to work and get our economy working again," citing government figures showing that last month Americans lost more than half a million jobs, and lost nearly 2.6 million jobs in 2008.
The president-elect said he will start restoring the economy with new, clean sources of energy.
"We know that the possibilities here are limitless," he said. "Here in Ohio and across America, we've seen old factories become new clean energy producers. We've seen entrepreneurs turning solar energy into electricity, and corn and soybeans into bio-fuels. Our scientists and engineers are hard at work developing cars that use less gas, homes and appliances that require less energy, schools and offices that are greener and more efficient than ever before."
Environmentalists say the president-elect is on the right track. "Barack Obama gets it," said Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope today. "He knows that clean energy and green jobs are the future of American manufacturing and the foundation for a stronger America and more secure middle class."
"Barack Obama ran on the strongest environmental platform in history, has assembled a phenomenal team of energy and environmental advisers, and has now proposed an economic recovery package that represents a sizable down payment on his promise to rebuild America's economy and bring the clean energy future to life," Pope said.
At Cardinal Fastener, Obama repeated commitments he made earlier this month - to double the production of renewable energy in the next three years, and to modernize more than 75 percent of federal buildings and improve the energy efficiency of two million American homes.
"In the process, we'll put nearly half a million people to work building wind turbines and solar panels; constructing fuel-efficient cars and buildings; and developing the new energy technologies that will lead to new jobs, more savings, and a cleaner, safer planet in the bargain," Obama said.
For Cardinal Fastener, that could mean going from operating at 50 percent capacity to 90 percent capacity.
"If anyone doubts that we can dig ourselves out of this hole, I invite them to come here to Ohio and look what you've done at Cardinal Fastener," Obama said. In an economy that's losing jobs, you're creating them. And they're the kind of jobs that don't just support families and sustain communities - but also help transform our economy, spurring growth not just today, but for decades to come."
Pope said the Sierra Club is working with its allies in Congress to put a clean, green economic recovery package on Obama's desk as soon as possible.
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2009. All rights reserved.
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