President Barack Obama visited Richmond in one of several appearances he is making across the country ahead of the November election. He met with citizens at the Southampton Recreation Association in South Richmond. One of the participants asked a question about the James River and the environment:
PARTICIPANT: I’d like to ask you about a local and regional issue, the James River that runs through Richmond here and the Chesapeake Bay and into which it goes, you know, [Matt Perry, Riverside Outfitters] depend on the James River to make a living with their outfitting company. Your EPA has very thankfully initiated a wonderful effort to finally clean up all the waters that enter the Chesapeake Bay. However, our state government is resisting playing its part, whereas going ahead with this clean-up would create thousands of private-sector jobs, as well as the benefits from clean water and better fish, they’re saying that we can’t afford to do this in this economy, but actually doing it would be the kind of thing that would help the economy and our waters recover. Do you have anything to say about that?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I agree with you and I’ll pass on your suggestions to Mr. [Governor Bob] McDonnell. Because — but look, the point you make, I think, is important, sort of a general point, which is for a long time, we tended to think of the environment in conflict with the economy, right? The notion was, clean air, clean water, is nice to have, but, you know, if it comes down to it, it’s more important that we have jobs. The point you’re making is that clean air and clean water can improve the economy and create new jobs if we think about it in creative ways. And that’s part of the argument that I’ve been making about clean energy. Let me give you an example. When I came into office, we were producing about 2 percent of the advanced batteries that are used in hybrid cars and electric cars. 2 percent of the market, and we were probably just barely hanging on. Eventually if you only got 2 percent of the market, you’re going tone up with zero percent of the market, so what we did was, we said as part of the recovery act, let’s invest in a made in America, home-grown, battery manufacturing effort. And we now have, across the country, people working in factories making advanced batteries that are going into American-made cars because what we also did at the same time was we raised fuel efficiency standards on cars and trucks for the first time in 30 years. We didn’t do that, by the way, through leg laying, we actually — legislation, we actually got auto workers and auto companies and environmentalists and all the stakeholders to agree on raising fuel efficiency standards nationally, so it didn’t get a lot of attention because it wasn’t a big ruckus in Washington, we just did it. And so auto makers now want to make more fuel-efficient cars and we now have the advanced battery manufacturing here in the United States to take advantage of that new market. We estimate that by 2015, we’re going to have 40 percent of the advanced battery market, so you’ve got a home-grown manufacturing industry here in the United States putting people to work in good jobs and good wages. But that wouldn’t have happened if there wasn’t a market for clean cars.
NOTE: Full transcipt courtesy www.NBC12.com