Michigan's West Coast, with the booming City of Grand Rapids at its center, is one of the more socially and fiscally conservative region's in the United States. But the people there appreciate a straight shooter with hard facts, thoughtful ideas, and a nonpartisan delivery. Especially when it comes to the progressive issue of sustainability, or balancing economic, ecological, and social goals.
That's why former President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, received a standing ovation last night after his speech to the largely Republican audience at the local econ club.
Pres. Clinton ranged widely on all the headline issues of the day - terrorism, avian influenza, globalization, and Britney Spears' hairdo. But he reserved a significant portion of his remarks to highlight the benefits of an aggressive energy agenda. In fact, he called the pursuit of energy conservation, efficiency, and innovation a "business deal" where "everybody's going to make money."
"I am convinced that the reason wages have been stagnant and we've continued to lose manufacturing jobs is because we have not taken seriously the opportunities to create a clean, independent energy future," Pres. Clinton said. "I believe if we did it would create millions and millions of new jobs in America."
A recent report from the University of Michigan reinforces and localizes Clinton's optimistic claim. The 564-page report, titled Michigan at a Climate Crossroads, predicts that Michigan can generate some 3,400 jobs and increase the gross state product by an annual average of $380 million by striving to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 84 million metric tons by 2025.
"I believe we'd have the biggest mobilization since America mobilized for WWII," Pres. Clinton said. "We'd create millions of jobs. You'd stop people complaining about income and inequality. We could grow together if we made a serious commitment to bringing maximum American ingenuity to a clean independent energy future."
Thanks to Wood TV 8, the local NBC affiliate, you can view President Clinton's speech online in six seperate segments. Check it out:
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6