Barack Obama photo

Remarks at Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado

January 26, 2012

The President. Hello, everybody! Hello, Team Buckley! It is great to be here. Everybody, please have a seat, have a seat.

Al, thank you for that introduction and for your years of service. I brought a few folks with me here today: the Secretary of the Air Force, Michael Donley; the Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, is here; our Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy Planning, Sharon Burke, is in the house. They are all doing great work with Secretary Panetta to keep our military the strongest in the world and to make our military more energy efficient.

I want to thank our host, Colonel Dant, for welcoming us here today. Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia is here as well. Give him a round of applause. And the mayor of the great city of Denver, Michael Hancock, is here as well. You'll notice they have the same hairdo. [Laughter]

And of course, we've got some outstanding men and women in uniform from Buckley Air Force Base. And that includes the 460th Space Wing. To all of you, on behalf of a grateful nation, I want to thank you for your extraordinary service.

During a decade of war, these folks, so many of you, exhibited the very best of America: courage, selflessness, teamwork. As I said this past Tuesday, you've exceeded all expectations, because you focus on your mission. You work together. You get the job done.

And so on Tuesday, I talked about the job we've got to get done as a nation--all of us--the job of restoring the American promise, the idea that if you work hard, if you fulfill your responsibilities, then you can do well enough to raise a family and own a home, send your kids to college, put a little away for retirement, live out that American Dream.

That's what most people are reaching for. They don't expect a handout. They don't expect anything to come easy. But they do expect, if they're applying themselves, if they're working hard, if they're able to overcome setbacks and obstacles and they can cooperate with the folks they're working with, if they're doing the right thing, then they should be able to achieve some security and some dignity in their lives. Something very basic--it's a basic promise that we've got to restore.

So, at the State of the Union, I tried to lay out my vision for how we would do that. I laid out a blueprint for an economy that's built to last. It's an economy built on American manufacturing, more good jobs and products made here in the United States that we're selling all around the world.

It's an economy built on American energy, fueled on homegrown and alternative energy sources that make us more secure and less dependent on foreign oil, which obviously is not just good for our prosperity, but also for our security. We all know that. It's an economy built on the skills of American workers, getting people the education and the training that they need so that they're prepared for the jobs of today and ready to compete for the jobs of tomorrow.

And most importantly, it's an economy that's built on a renewal of American values: hard work, responsibility, and the sense that the same rules apply to everybody, from Wall Street to Main Street.

That's also part of what makes our military so strong. Doesn't matter if you're a general, you're a private. There are some rules you got to follow. That has to be our future. That's how we restore that basic American promise.

Now, today we've been focusing on American energy. For all our lives, America has been talking about decreasing our dependence on foreign oil. I've been hearing it--I'm older than most of you guys--[laughter]--I've been hearing it all my life. Well, my administration has actually tried to do something about it.

Over the last 3 years, we negotiated the toughest new efficiency standards for cars and trucks in history. That will save us and consumers billions of gallons of gas and a lot of money. We've opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration here in the United States. Right now American oil production is the highest it's been in 8 years--8 years.

Last year, we relied less on foreign oil than any time in the past 16 years. Hasn't gotten a lot of attention, but it's important. We're moving in the right direction when it comes to oil and gas production.

But we've got to do more, because even if we tapped every drop of domestic oil, we've only got 2 percent of the world's oil reserves. We've got to have an all-out, all-of-the-above strategy, develop every available source of American energy, and it's got to be a strategy that is cleaner and cheaper and will create all kinds of new jobs.

So this morning I was in Nevada talking about how natural gas is a enormous energy source for the United States. We are the Saudi Arabia of oil--or Saudi Arabia of natural gas. We've just got to develop it, and if we do effectively, then we're going to create jobs, and it's going to power trucks that are cleaner and cheaper and factories that are cleaner and cheaper.

The same promise is true for clean energy. Because of Federal investments, renewable energy use--sources like wind and solar--has nearly doubled. Thousands of Americans have jobs because of those efforts.

So, as I said on Tuesday, I'm not going to walk away from the promise of clean energy. We're not going to cede the wind industry or the solar industry or the battery industry to China or Germany because we're too timid to make that same commitment here in the United States. We subsidized oil for a very long time, long enough. It's time to stop giving taxpayer giveaways to an industry that's never been more profitable. We've got to double down on a clean energy industry that's never been more promising. And Congress is going to need to act.

They need to pass clean energy tax credits. They need to set a clean energy standard so that we create a market for innovation. These are the industries of the future, and they're the jobs of the future.

So this is common sense. But we're not going to wait for Congress. We're also going to do some things administratively. It's why I'm directing my administration to allow the development of clean energy on enough public lands to power 3 million homes. And the reason we're at Buckley is because the military is doing its part. The military is doing its part, as usual--as usual. Now, it's important for the military to do its part because we're the largest--our military is the largest energy consumer in the world. So we can set a good example and help create an additional market for clean energy. The Navy is going to purchase enough clean energy capacity to power a quarter of a million homes a year. And it won't cost taxpayers a dime.

What does it mean? It means that the world's largest consumer of energy, the Department of Defense, is making one of the largest commitments to clean energy in history. That will grow this market, it will strengthen our energy security.

And I promise you, the Department of Defense is not just embracing clean energy because it feels good. [Laughter] We got some tough-minded folks. Our number-one priority is always the security of this Nation. But what our military understands is that if we're smart on energy, that saves DOD budgets that allow them to do a whole bunch of other things.

Leading on this issue is the right thing to do. Yes, it's the right thing to do to prevent climate change. Yes, it's the right thing to do in terms of reducing pollution. But it's also important for our national security.

Ray Mabus has said: "We wouldn't allow some of the places that we buy fossil fuels from to build our ships or to build our aircrafts, to build our ground equipment. We wouldn't do that. And yet we give them say on whether those ships sail or whether those aircrafts fly or whether those vehicles run, because we buy fuel from them." Why would we do that if we don't have to? The less we depend on foreign oil, the more secure we become as a nation.

That's why in December, the Navy made the single largest purchase of biofuel in Government history. This summer, that fuel will power ships and subs during the world's largest naval exercise. By the way, 2 years ago, I got a chance to see a Navy F-18 Green Hornet that flies on biofuel. It was a pretty impressive sight. They wouldn't let me fly it. [Laughter] But it was impressive to see.

The rest of the military, including here at Buckley, is doing its part as well. In 2010, you started installing thousands of solar panels here on the base. That same year, the Air Force flew an A-10 Thunderbolt entirely on alternative fuels, a first for the military. Overall, the Air Force is on track to save $500 million in fuel costs over the next 5 years because you guys have changed the way you operate. Think about that: half a billion dollars. [Applause] Yes, that's worth clapping.

Reducing our dependence on oil is going to strengthen our national security. It will make our environment cleaner for our kids. It will make energy cheaper for our businesses and for our families. And doubling down on a clean energy industry will create lots of jobs in the process.

So we're going to keep moving on American energy. We're going to stay focused on boosting American manufacturing. We're going to keep training our workers so that they are equipped for the high-skill jobs of tomorrow, including in the clean energy space. And we're going to restore those American values of fair play and responsibility that made us who we are.

We've got to follow the lead of the members of our military who are here today. You rise or fall as one unit, serving one Nation. You have each other's backs. That's the same spirit that you'll find in communities all over America. Each of us is here only because somebody was looking out for us. Not just our parents, but we had neighbors and communities and churches and synagogues, people who were coaching Little League. And we had a country that was investing in community colleges and universities and research and caring for our vets. Everybody was taking responsibility for each other and for our country, as well as for ourselves.

Somebody had our back. Otherwise, we wouldn't have been successful. Certainly, I wouldn't have been. This country exists because generations of Americans worked together and looked out for each other. Out of many, we came together as one. These are the values we have to return to. That's how we're going to create an economy that is built to last. That's how we're going to make sure that we have the best energy policy in the world. That's how we're going to put people back to work. That's how we're going to continue to make sure we have the finest military in the history of the world.

If we work together in common purpose, nobody can stop us. We will rebuild this economy. We will meet these challenges. We'll remind everybody why the United States is the greatest country on Earth.

Thank you, everybody. God bless you. God bless America.

Note: The President spoke at 3:34 p.m. In his remarks, he referred to Maj. Alberto Mezarina, USAF (Ret.), energy manager, and Col. Daniel A. Dant, USAF, commander, 460th Space Wing, Buckley Air Force Base.

Barack Obama, Remarks at Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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