Obama Administration Officials Travel America, Talk Clean Energy Economy

WASHINGTON, D.C. (RPRN) 8/10/2009—Punctuated by President Obama’s Wednesday announcement of $2.4 billion in Recovery Act funding for 48 new advanced battery and electric drive projects, top Administration officials fanned out across the nation this week to highlight the enormous opportunities for Americans in the emerging clean energy economy.

“The United States led the world’s economies in the 20th century because we led the world in innovation.  Today, the competition is keener; the challenge is tougher; and that’s why innovation is more important than ever.  That’s the key to good, new jobs in the 21st century,” President Obama told an Indiana crowd Wednesday.

All week, key members of the Administration took that message on the road.

On Monday, Energy Secretary Steven Chu joined Congressman Tim Walz in Rochester, MN, to examine three renewable energy projects including a mobile self-contained ethanol plant, cars created and adapted by students at MSU-Mankato that run on solar and electrical technology, and the IBEW Wind Turbine Training Facility where electrical workers train to service the turbines delivering clean energy to southern Minnesota.

In Longmont, CO, Tuesday, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar met with employees of the innovative solar panel company, Abound Solar, Inc.  Abound Solar has created more than 200 ‘green jobs’ in two years and expects to double employment by next year.  A product of federal and state government support for clean energy technology innovation, three of the company’s founders worked for Colorado State University before spinning off, with help from the National Science Foundation and Department of Energy.

Wednesday, as the President announced his Administration’s historic investment in developing the next generation of batteries and electric vehicles, officials announced local grant recipients in communities throughout the country.

Secretary Chu visited Celgard, in Charlotte, NC, to announce a $49 million grant for the company to expand its separator production capacity to serve the expected increased demand for lithium-ion batteries from manufacturing facilities in the U.S.  Celgard will be expanding its manufacturing capacity in Charlotte, NC and nearby Aiken, SC, and expects that hundreds of jobs could be created, with the first of those jobs beginning as early as Fall 2009.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson was in St. Petersburg, FL, to announce a $95.5 million grant for Saft America, Inc. to construct a new plant in Jacksonville on the site of the former Cecil Field military base, to manufacture lithium-ion cells, modules and battery packs for military, industrial, and agricultural vehicles.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke joined U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver in Kansas City, Missouri, to announce a $10 million grant for Smith Electric to build and deploy up to 100 electric vehicles, including vans, pickups, and their “Newton” brand medium duty trucks.  In addition, Locke announced two other grants, worth a total of more than $30 million, supporting manufacturing and educational programs in Missouri and Michigan.

Deputy Secretary of the Department of Transportation John Porcari visited East Penn Manufacturing Co., in Lyon Station, Penn., to award the company a $32.5 million grant to increase production capacity for their valve regulated lead-acid batteries and the UltraBattery, a lead-acid battery combined with a carbon supercapacitor, for micro and mild hybrid applications.

Thursday, Secretary Chu wrapped up the week’s travel with an event in Cambridge, MA.  At Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, Chu and Congressman Ed Markey participated in a forum to discuss the energy challenge and the opportunities to create new clean energy jobs.

Source: The White House Briefing Room

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