Watching Barack Obama’s Inauguration on January 20th, after midnight as many were from China, I was waiting for some key statements about his plans for a long-term solution to the interrelated issues of oil dependence, geopolitical conflict, and global warming.

He gave few specific details, but the following statements stand out, as quoted from his full address:

…each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

…We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.

…We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.

…All this we can do. All this we will do.

As I have written previously, I see this to be a viable solution to the multifaceted problems facing our world. Quoting Al Gore, whom I believe put it into the best phrasing yet (albeit in reference to the US situation in particular) in his speech last July,

…We’re borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf, to burn it in ways that destroy the planet. Every bit of that has to change.

I hoped that President Obama would be using such a strategy to invigorate the US economy. While his current economic recovery plan of approximately $825 billion, which has just passed the US Congress and is going to debate in the Senate next week, has a fair amount of environmental spending (about $58 billion could be termed energy-generating or -conserving spending) the bulk of the $825 billion is devoted to tax credits, infrastructure spending, aid to the poor, education and so on.

It is disappointing that there was not more, but saving the planet is a hard sell when the overall economy and people’s livelihoods are in trouble. However nearly $60 billion in green stimulus, which includes more than $20 billion in renewable energy tax credits – for things like solar panels installed on rooftops – is a great beginning to what hopefully will become the hallmark of his Presidency: Changing the direction and drive behind the US economy.

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