Last year, President Barack Obama began moving climate change, as well as the country's efforts to address it and reduce the nation's environmental footprint, to the main stage of political discussions. The first big mention came in the President's second Inaugural Address in January, and then continued in June when he announced a National Climate Action Plan. Last night, the President once again moved climate change and the challenges and opportunities it offers America straight into the center spotlight.
During his State of the Union address, the President took a decisive stance on climate change, declaring that "the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact." Elaborating on his administration's plan to address climate change, Obama heralded efforts to move the country toward energy independence, specifically calling out the growth of the U.S. solar market, and pledged to continue to work on protecting "our air, our water, our communities."
Now, one of the biggest factors in bringing more jobs back is our commitment to American energy. The "all the above" energy strategy I announced a few years ago is working, and today America is closer to energy independence than we have been in decades.
One of the reasons why is natural gas. If extracted safely, it's the bridge fuel that can power our economy with less of the carbon pollution that causes climate change. Businesses plan to invest almost a hundred billion dollars in new factories that use natural gas. I'll cut red tape to help states get those factories built and put folks to work, and this Congress can help by putting people to work building fueling stations that shift more cars and trucks from foreign oil to American natural gas.
Meanwhile, my administration will keep working with the industry to sustain production and jobs growth while strengthening protection of our air, our water, our communities. And while we're at it, I'll use my authority to protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations.
Now, it's not just oil and natural gas production that's booming; we're becoming a global leader in solar too.
Every four minutes another American home or business goes solar, every panel pounded into place by a worker whose job can't be outsourced. Let's continue that progress with a smarter tax policy that stops giving $4 billion a year to fossil fuel industries that don't need it so we can invest more in fuels of the future that do.
And even as we've increased energy production, we've partnered with businesses, builders and local communities to reduce the energy we consume. When we rescued our automakers, for example, we worked with them to set higher fuel efficiency standards for our cars. In the coming months I'll build on that success by setting new standards for our trucks so we can keep driving down oil imports and what we pay at the pump.
And taken together, our energy policy is creating jobs and leading to a cleaner, safer planet. Over the past eight years the United States has reduced our total carbon pollution more than any other nation on Earth.
But we have to act with more urgency because a changing climate is already harming western communities struggling with drought and coastal cities dealing with floods. That's why I directed my administration to work with states, utilities and others to set new standards on the amount of carbon pollution our power plants are allowed to dump into the air.
The shift to a cleaner energy economy won't happen overnight, and it will require some tough choices along the way.
But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. And when our children's children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did.
Click here to watch the 2014 State of the Union address in its entirety.