HILL AIR FORCE BASE – During his first presidential visit to Utah, Barack Obama spoke at Hill Air Force Base Friday concerning renewable energy, associated job creation and the launch of a solar industry employment initiative for veterans.
The president gave his speech while standing in front of solar panels installed at Hill Air Force Base and said he had toured the installation, using that as a springboard for the focus of his comments.
“Since I took office, solar electricity has gone up twentyfold,” Obama said. “And our investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency haven’t just helped to cut carbon pollution, they’ve made us more energy independent, and they’ve helped us create a steady stream of high-wage, good-paying, middle-class jobs.”
President Barack Obama’s full speech can be viewed below. Article continues below the video.
While other economies across the globe have weakened, Obama said, our country’s economy is strong, yet it is still impacted by what happens around the world. In order to remain competitive, he said, the nation needs to redouble its efforts and take steps to be successful. One of those steps is continuing to move forward in renewable energy development and job growth in those fields.
“And what I’m doing here today is to highlight the fact that the solar industry is actually adding jobs 10 times faster than the rest of the economy,” Obama said.
“They’re good-paying jobs that are helping folks enter into the middle class,” he went onto say. “And today, what we’re going to try to do is to build on the progress that’s already been made.”
Obama announced a goal to train 75,000 workers for the solar industry by 2020. Among that number will be veterans who will benefit from what the president called the “Solar Ready Vets” program. Efforts are also being made to get veterans solar workforce training through the GI Bill.
“It’s going to train transitioning military personnel for careers in this growing industry at 10 bases — including right here at Hill,” Obama said.
The president also said Hill Air Force Base is leading by example in the use of solar power. The president said the base gets at least 20 percent or more of its power through renewable energy. This is allowing the base, and the Department of Defense as a whole, to be more efficient and save money, he said.
“And it means that we’ve got more money for personnel, for training, for equipment, for making sure our fighting forces are able to get the job done. What is true for DOD (Department of Defense) has to be true for the entire country,” the president said.
After delivering his remarks, Obama departed Hill Air Force Base around 11:30 a.m.
Obama arrived in Utah Thursday night, landing at Hill Air Force Base after 8 p.m. He was greeted by the state’s top Republicans and Democrats. He also met with some of the members of the state’s congressional delegation prior to his speech.
Republican Gov. Gary Herbert was able to speak with the president as his motorcade traveled to Salt Lake City.
“It is an honor to welcome the President of the United States to Utah, particularly Hill Air Force Base,” Herbert said in a statement. “I appreciate the president’s invitation to ride in the motorcade with him to his hotel, which allowed us time to discuss a number of important issues.”
Among the issues Herbert discussed with Obama were the Utah’s Lands Initiative; an alternative for Medicaid expansion; and Payment in Lieu of Taxes, also known as PILT funding, which benefits rural counties.
“We also talked about a proposal to reform the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to give states greater authority in education, the importance of other issues related to the National Governor’s Association,” Herbert said.
Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, who was among the Utah Democrats to greet the Obama, gave a personalized University of Utah jersey to the president.
Becker was also a part of a roundtable discussion with Obama concerning clean energy. Salt Lake City was mentioned in Obama’s speech Friday for its commitment to renewable energy.
“It feels great, certainly for me as a Democrat and someone who is very proud of this president and what he’s accomplished,” Becker said, as reported by KSL.com.
Obama also met with some of the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, included Presidents Henry B. Eyring and Dieter F. Uchtdorf, of the First Presidency, and church apostles Elders D. Todd Christofferson and L. Tom Perry.
According to a statement from the church, Obama met with church leaders “and expressed his appreciation for the Church’s leadership role in seeking a balance between religious freedom and non-discrimination.”
The president also noted the church’s worldwide humanitarian aid and disaster relief efforts. Church leaders expressed their appreciation to the president for the example he and his wife provide through their healthy marriage and family life. During the 20-minute visit, additional conversation touched on the subject of immigration.
Thomas S. Monson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, did not participate in the meeting, choosing instead to preserve his strength for the church’s upcoming general conference, which takes place Easter weekend, church spokesman Eric Hawkins said.
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