Obama pushes energy bill on eve of vote

June 25, 2009 7:19:09 PM PDT
President Barack Obama says it is time for America to confront global warming. Thursday he urged Congress to pass an energy bill that helps create new green jobs and moves the nation away from its reliance on fossil fuels.

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"There's no longer a question about whether the jobs and industries of the 20th century will be centered around clean renewable energy; the only question is what country will create these jobs and these industries and I want that answer to be the United States of America," Mr. Obama said.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu came to San Francisco Thursday to pitch the administration's energy bill.

"I think this is vitally important that it be passed and I hope that by the end of this talk you'll be even or motivated to move ahead," Chu said.

Chu was talking to energy producers and users, among them the CEO of Ford, who was on stage just before the energy secretary.

"I think it's great that we're all going to be involved with it and it's going to morph as it goes through; we look forward to participating, got a long way to go," Alan Mulally said.

Mulally just this week was given $5.9 billion in loan guarantees from the federal government, presented to him by Chu.

"I didn't ask him to be quite frank about whether he favored the bill," Chu said.

Chu knows a lot of business interests don't like the legislation, which would require the U.S. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by the end of the century.

Companies that continue to pollute would have to buy credits, which opponents say would raise the price of gasoline and power produced from coal. Republicans in the House say it will cost jobs.

"High energy industries like the steel making industry won't be located in the United States any more; they're going to be shipped to our competitors in China, India, South Korea," House minority leader Rep. John Boehner said.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi talked up the bill.

"I am very proud of the bill; I think it takes us in the direction we want to go," Pelosi said.

But Democratic staffers say Pelosi does not yet have the votes.

Thursday the president spoke to moderate Democrats to try and bring them on board.

"My call to those members of Congress who are still on the fence as well as the American people is this: we cannot be afraid of the future," Mr. Obama.

TV ads supporting the bill are playing in Washington DC.

ABC7 political analyst Bruce Cain says it is all part of lobbying Blue Dog Democrats from more conservative districts.

"Blue dogs come from seats many of which were held by Republicans in the past that are more fiscally conservative, more business oriented," Cain said.

Cain says that is why the administration is out arm twisting.

The House vote on the bill is set for Friday. If it passes a much tougher fight is expected in the Senate.

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