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The Green Party of New York State called on President Obama to commit to a massive investment in renewable energy and for the United States to go carbon-free by 2020. President Obama’s visit to GE’s Schenectady, NY plant to tour its renewable energy department reminds us that the administration has paid little more than lip service to renewables over the last two years. The Greens called on President Obama to use his visit to GE, one of the nation’s largest defense contractors, to end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and to redirect the military budget to providing living wage, green-energy jobs to the millions of unemployed Americans.
“During my campaign for governor I called for a massive investment in renewable wind and solar technology, retrofitting of homes, and a 2020 date for New York State to go zero net carbon emissions in energy production. President Obama’s visit to Schenectady highlights how his administration cow-tows to the corporate elite while ignoring America’s real problems: unemployment and catastrophic climate change. Schenectady, a once-bustling industrial hub, has been hollowed out as GE has moved its production facilities to low-wage countries. Obama has a chance to tackle the 15-20% real unemployment rate with a massive public works program centered on renewable energy, mass transit, and rebuilding areas devastated by corporate flight overseas. Instead he chooses to tour the GE facility for a day of empty green-sounding rhetoric while he plans in his State of the Union address next Tuesday to call on Congress to enact a ‘Clean Energy Standard’ and subsidies to support dirty energy plants, including new nukes and so-called ‘clean’ coal,” said Green Party co-chair Howie Hawkins.
Hawkins said the token nature of Obama’s green investment and jobs rhetoric is indicated by the small level of green investments in the 2009 fiscal stimulus packages of the United States compared to other countries. Green investments were only 12 percent of the US package, compared to 33 percent for China, 59 percent for the European Union countries, and 95 percent for South Korea.“Obama’s choice of GE for token green gestures telling. GE is producing its renewable energy products in China. China has a green industrial policy. The US doesn’t. Instead of a green industrial policy to employ unionized American workers with good wages and benefits, Obama is pandering to a global corporation that is profiting from China’s green investments and repressive government that keeps labor cheap and unorganized,” Hawkins said.
“After destroying Schenectady’s economy over the last 50 years, polluting the waterways with PCBs and radiation, and becoming one of the nation’s largest military defense contractors, GE is no friend of working people here. The Schenectady Green Party is in favor of renewable energy, but is appalled that President Obama is ignoring the problems generated by GE during his photo-op visit, and the pressing issue of unemployment here in Schenectady, commented Michael Welch, the chair of the Schenectady County Green Party.
“You know, during the campaign last fall we asked New Yorkers ‘Where are the f-ing jobs?,’ and it’s time to ask Barack Obama the same question. How can you spend over $500 billion a year on the military budget so that we can occupy two countries half a world away, but you cannot commit to a public works jobs program that will rebuild upstate cities like Schenectady, whose fate is no different than hundreds of other cities around the country? Unfortunately is seems pretty cut and dry that Obama is more interested in what GE executives think than the line-workers. It’s time for a real change in our country’s direction,” said co-chair Peter LaVenia.