U.S. President Barack Obama, frustrated by Congress' unwillingness to work with him, has proposed a partnership between the White House and industry in his effort to improve energy efficiency.
Obama visited a Wal-Mart in Mountain View, California on May 9, where he said, "There are cost-effective ways to tackle climate change and create jobs at the same time."
The president announced several partnerships with industry, as well as executive actions, to lessen emissions of greenhouse gases. Obama has had virtually no success in addressing these problems through legislation, given his fellow Democrats' slim majority in the Senate and the Republicans' control of the House.
Republicans argue that human involvement in climate change is not proven, and that any effort to reduce these emissions would kill jobs. Obama countered that acting now "will be good for the economy long-term, and if we don't, that will be bad for the economy."
The president said jobs in the U.S. solar-power industry increased by 20 percent in 2013, noting that such jobs cannot be outsourced to foreign countries. And he pointed to the Department of Energy's expansion of training programs for the solar-power industry at community colleges around the country targeting as many as 50,000 students.
Obama said he had been reaching out to private businesses in hopes of persuading them to reduce carbon emissions. The same day, the White House announced that 10 companies were joining the president. Besides Wal-Mart, they include industry giants such as Ikea, Google, Yahoo! and Apple.
The White House chose a Wal-Mart store for Obama's announcement because the company plans to double the number of solar-powered projects at its stores in the United States and Puerto Rico by 2020.
That choice is interesting because many of the president's supporters, especially in the labor movement, accuse Wal-Mart of prospering at the expense of its employees, whom they say are paid too little. The company also has refused to take a stand on Obama's effort to increase the federal minimum wage.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg News reports that Wal-Mart's political action committee, or PAC, has made more than $500,000 worth of political contributions to both major political parties so far this year, with slightly more than half going to Republicans.
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Written by Andy Tully at Oilprice.com.