After California fundraising swing, Obama to focus on clean energy

The Department of Water and Power (DWP) San Fernando Valley Generating Station in Sun Valley, Calif. is seen in this Dec. 11, 2008 file photo. David McNew/Getty Images

After two days of fundraising in California and following the release of a major report urging leaders nationwide to take action against climate change, President Obama on Friday will announce a series of steps his administration is taking to increase the use of clean energy and improve energy efficiency.

The president is rolling out the initiatives at a Walmart in Mountain View, Calif. The chain store is doubling the number of on-site solar energy projects by 2020 and is one of more than 300 organizations that have committed to the White House to using cleaner and more efficient energy.

"Not only is climate change a problem in the future, it's already affecting Americans," Mr. Obama told CBS This Morning earlier this week, following the publication of the National Climate Assessment. "There are things we can do about it, but it's only going to happen if the American people and people around the world take the challenge seriously."

The president noted that his administration has increased fuel efficiency standards while the production of solar and wind power have increased. "But we're going to have to do more, and that should be a bipartisan issue because all of us want to make sure we're passing on an America to our kids and our grandkids that is as beautiful as the one that we inherited," he said.

Members of the Senate have managed to find bipartisan support for an energy efficiency bill, but the legislation has stalled over Republican-backed amendments over more controversial matters like the Keystone XL pipeline and regulations on coal-fired power plants.

With no action in Congress so far, the president is once again using his executive authority to advance his agenda.

For instance, Mr. Obama will announce on Friday a $2 billion commitment to improve the energy efficiency of federal buildings. The long-term energy savings will pay for the upfront costs, according to the White House.

When it comes to improving energy efficiency, "the president firmly believes the federal government should lead by example," Michael Boots, acting chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, told reporters Thursday.

Mr. Obama will also announce that the Energy Department will provide support for community college training to help more Americans enter the solar sector, while the Department of Housing and Urban Development will announce incentives to encourage the use of renewable technologies in public housing.

The president will also announce that the Energy Department has finalized efficiency standards for electric motors and walk-in coolers and freezers, greatly reducing carbon emissions. The department is also providing updated energy codes for residential and commercial buildings.

Meanwhile, the White House is announcing Friday that installation of American-made solar panels there is complete.

"Continuing President Obama's commitment to lead by example to increase the use of clean energy in the U.S., the White House has completed installation of American-made solar panels on the First Family's residence as a part of an energy retrofit that will improve the overall energy efficiency of the building," White House spokesman Matt Lehrich said in a statement, adding that the project is estimated to pay for itself in energy savings over the next eight years.

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