Obama has laid out a firm timetable for US troop withdrawal from Iraq in 18 months. One war will finally end. Unfortunately, there is still Afghanistan.

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Nevermind that State of the Union speeches are usually delivered after at least a year in office. From President Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress:

We know the country that harnesses the power of clean, renewable energy will lead the 21st century. And yet, it is China that has launched the largest effort in history to make their economy energy efficient. We invented solar technology, but we’ve fallen behind countries like Germany and Japan in producing it. New plug-in hybrids roll off our assembly lines, but they will run on batteries made in Korea. 

Well I do not accept a future where the jobs and industries of tomorrow take root beyond our borders – and I know you don’t either. It is time for America to lead again.

Thanks to our recovery plan, we will double this nation’s supply of renewable energy in the next three years. We have also made the largest investment in basic research funding in American history – an investment that will spur not only new discoveries in energy, but breakthroughs in medicine, science, and technology. We will soon lay down thousands of miles of power lines that can carry new energy to cities and towns across this country. And we will put Americans to work making our homes and buildings more efficient so that we can save billions of dollars on our energy bills.

But to truly transform our economy, protect our security, and save our planet from the ravages of climate change, we need to ultimately make clean, renewable energy the profitable kind of energy. So I ask this Congress to send me legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution and drives the production of more renewable energy in America. And to support that innovation, we will invest fifteen billion dollars a year to develop technologies like wind power and solar power; advanced biofuels, clean coal, and more fuel-efficient cars and trucks built right here in America.

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[America’s Untapped Energy Resource: Boosting Efficiency via TIME]

It turns out to be much less expensive, destructive and time-intensive to reduce demand through efficiency than to increase supply through new drilling or new power plants. A nationwide push to save “negawatts” instead of building more megawatts could help reverse our unsustainable increases in energy-hogging and carbon-spewing while creating a slew of jobs and saving a load of cash…

There are two basic ways to save energy without deprivation or daily effort. We can use more efficient machinery, like fuel-efficient cars that guzzle less gas, or those pigtailed compact fluorescent lightbulbs that use 75% less power than traditional bulbs, or state-of-the-art refrigerators that are three times as efficient as 1973 models. We can also use machinery more productively. That can be as simple as insulating pipes and ducts, caulking doors and windows and otherwise weatherizing our homes to avoid heating our attics and the outdoors. Or installing motion sensors and programmable thermostats that turn out lights and air conditioners when no one’s in the room.

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