Shortly after the U.S. Department of Labor published the March 2010 unemployment figures, President Obama delivered a speech that focused on the clean energy economy. The March 2010 unemployment rate remained steady at 9.7 percent, but for the first time in about three years, new jobs were added to the market. Obama reminded the crowd that when he took office, the U.S. was posting big job losses every month —more than 700,000. Now, he feels that the United States is turning a corner and that we’ll begin to dig our way out of this jobless mess and that a move towards a clean energy economy will help.

Celgard is an advanced battery technology company – specifically, they produce components that are used in lithium-ion batteries that are found in everything from consumer electronics to electric vehicles. Celgard received nearly $50 million in grant funding from the Recovery Act and will soon be adding between 200 and 300 new jobs at its North Carolina facility. Below is a video of Celgard employees discussing the impact of the Recovery Act funding.

During his speech, Obama praised the Recovery Act for advancing clean energy technologies in the United States. “Here’s an interesting statistic: Before the Recovery Act, before I took office, we had the capacity to make less than 2 percent of the world’s lithium ion batteries —less than 2 percent. In the next five years, on the trajectory that we’re now on, we’re going to be able to make 40 percent of the advanced batteries right here in the United States of America.” Source: White House

After his speech, President Obama accepted a few questions from the audience. One of these questions focused on a recent controversial decision by the Obama administration — offshore drilling. Instead of focusing on the controversy itself, the audience member asked if this new stance on offshore drilling would reduce investments into alternative energy research and projects.

During his very detailed answer, the President touched on all of the current alternative energy investments the government has made but cautioned that as a nation, we still rely on fossil fuels.

“Just remember the statistics when you start hearing this. We account for 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves but we use 20 percent of the world’s oil. We use 20 percent; we only got 2 percent. We can’t drill our way out of the problem. That’s why we’ve got to get moving on this clean energy sector, but we also have to make sure that we’ve got enough supply that’s regular in terms of these other energy — traditional energy sources — so that by the time we get to the clean energy sector, we haven’t had to sacrifice economic growth along the way.”

Photo: nDevilTV/Flickr

Obama continues push for a clean energy economy
President Obama talks about green jobs in Charlotte, N.C., home of advanced battery technology company Celgard.