The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Elliott Negin,Media Director,

Obama Solar Plant Visit Underscores Need for State, Federal Policies


President Barack Obama's visit today to Solyndra, a Fremont,
California, solar panel manufacturer, underscores the need for strong
state and federal clean energy policies, according to the Union of
Concerned Scientists (UCS).

California law requires privately owned utilities to generate 20
percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources this year,
although the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has extended
that deadline three years. Meanwhile, the state's climate change law,
AB 32, includes policies that would increase clean energy production
and bolster clean technology industries in the state. Unfortunately, a
ballot initiative campaign funded by a handful of oil companies aims to
cripple the law.

According to the CPUC,
solar panels currently account for about 1 percent of the renewable
energy generated to meet the state's renewable electricity law.
However, California has more than 1,000 megawatts of new solar power
poised for deployment, which could power approximately 1 million homes.

"President Obama is coming here because California has always led
the nation on clean energy," said Dan Kalb, California policy manager
at UCS. "Clean energy creates new jobs, attracts high-tech investment
and clears the air. California voters should reject the oil industry's
ballot initiative so we can keep moving forward building a 21st century
clean energy economy right here at home."

At the federal level, a bill introduced by Sens. John Kerry
(D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) would put a cap on carbon
emissions, but it would not include a strong renewable electricity
standard or adequate funding for renewable electricity development,
according to UCS's review of the bill. That's a missed opportunity, according to a UCS analysis
(pdf). The analysis found that a national 25 percent renewable
electricity by 2025 standard would, by 2025, create a net gain of
202,000 jobs, lower consumer electricity costs by $64.3 billion, and
dramatically reduce the heat-trapping emissions that cause global

Meanwhile, the Obama administration recently announced a process for creating new fuel economy standards. UCS has called on the administration and Congress to pass a comprehensive oil savings policies in the wake of the Gulf oil spill.

The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading science-based nonprofit working for a healthy environment and a safer world. UCS combines independent scientific research and citizen action to develop innovative, practical solutions and to secure responsible changes in government policy, corporate practices, and consumer choices.