Obama: Clean Tech is Priority Number One Next Year

In an interview with Joe Klein in Time, Presidential Candidate Barack Obama showed that he gets it on the importance of investing in clean energy as an engine of economic growth.

Said Obama: "The engine of economic growth for the past 20 years is not going to be there for the next 20.  That was consumer spending...There is no better potential driver that pervades all aspects of our economy than a new energy economy....That's going to be my No.1 priority when I get into office." 

We are in total agreement with Senator Obama that clean energy can power prosperity for the next decade and beyond. The more you look into the promise of clean energy, the better its characteristics as a transformative industry able to serve as an engine of growth appear. 

First, because much of the work of retiring our old dirty infrastructure and building new clean, energy efficient infrastructure must occur domestically, investments in clean infrastructure should lead directly to new domestic jobs with a nice multiplier effect.

Second, many of the jobs in building new clean buildings and retrofitting old ones are by their very nature construction jobs that provide high wages even for those without extensive education.

Third, like information technology, clean technology is a new industry with the potential to create fortunes for entrepreneurs and high paying jobs for scientists, engineers and others that work at clean tech companies.  The US system of innovation is ideally suited to turn ideas into wealth and the money pouring into cleantech in Silicon Valley suggests this process is already underway.

Fourth, clean technology is also likely to have a strong manufacturing component.  The weight and physical size of many clean technology components from new building materials to solar panels has compelled Chinese firms, for example, to site their factories close to markets in the United States.  Clean energy thus is ideally suited to revive empty factories across Michigan, Ohio, Penssyvlania and America's once great manufacturing belt. 

All told, Senator Obama is spot on that clean energy must be a number one priority next year.  How refreshing it is and how transformative it will be to have new leadership in America focosued on real, not paper, economic growth.