The November race is off to a green start. McCain gave a speech earlier this week in Oregon in which he laid out his energy and climate plan, and Obama on Wednesday spoke in Michigan about reviving and strengthening American manufacturing with clean energy jobs. After touring a Chrysler plant, Obama announced plans to create a $100 million annual ”advanced manufacturing fund” to promote industries that will keep manufacturing jobs in the U.S.
Pundits see this as an attempt to appeal to so-called Reagan-Democrats, who are worried about job security, as they could be a decisive vote in a potential McCain-Obama presidential race. In Obama’s speech he reiterated his much larger plan to promote renewable energy and create several million green-collar jobs with $150 billion in investments over 10 years. Obama’s plan also includes a $10 billion “Clean Technologies Deployment Venture Capital Fund,” which could be used for research grants or investment in low-risk cleantech ventures.
The New York Times noted that Obama’s words reverberated in Silicon Valley, where cleantech entrepreneurs and venture capitalist have been lobbying for more federal investment and regulatory certainty.
Daniel Kammen, an Obama energy adviser and director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley, told the Times that Obama’s plan for R&D spending and regulatory extensions of renewable energy tax credits “is the real thing.”
Meanwhile, we’re still waiting to hear who Obama will name as his chief technology officer. Kammen is a strong candidate, but Obama recently said he would have climate change crusader-cum-venture capitalist Al Gore “play a central part” in his administration.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. We first need to see if promises of green-collar jobs can win the votes of blue-collar workers.