Obama Advocates Green Energy Transition: Can’t ‘Convert to All Solar, All Wind Economy’ Overnight

By Fred Lucas | February 9, 2010 | 6:53 PM EST

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., left, accompanied by House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, appear at a news conference on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Washington (CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama and Republican leaders apparently have found common ground on energy proposals that both sides think would spur job growth.

Obama – whose political base in the environmental movement largely favors a transition to alternative energy rather than further exploration for natural gas, oil, and coal – has proposed putting more emphasis on traditional fuel sources.

He said he is still committed to alternative fuels, but thinks there has to be a practical transition.

“We have to take a ‘both-and’ approach rather than an ‘either-or’ approach,” Obama told reporters on Tuesday. “I am very firm in my conviction that the country that leads the way in clean energy -- biodiesel, geothermal -- that country is going to win the race in the 21st century global economy. So, we have to move in that direction.”

Obama met with leaders of both political parties at the White House on Tuesday with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio).

“We can’t overnight convert to an all solar, all wind economy,” Obama said. “That just can’t happen. So we’re going to have needs in these traditional sources. … Over time, I think the transition is going to be more and more to clean energy as fossil fuels become less prominent.”

Obama talked about a strong investment in nuclear energy during the State of the Union address, which the green movement has strongly opposed.

McConnell, speaking to reporters after meeting with Obama, said job creation could come from four key areas.

“I would mention those four areas, all of which I believe would be job generators: nuclear power, offshore drilling, clean coal technologies, and passing free trade agreements that we know will create jobs here in the United States,” McConnell said. 

McConnell also said he is open to the $100 billion jobs bill that Obama is promoting, so long as it is more effective than the $787-billion recovery act that passed on a near party-line vote last year.
“We are certainly open to it,” McConnell said. “There is a chance we can move this forward on a bipartisan basis. Not just another stimulus bill. We hope it is truly a job generator. We know that the (stimulus spending law) wasn’t a job generator, but I think there is a chance the Senate could get there with a small package.”