MEAGAN KELLY/THE HOYA President Obama spoke to Cabinet secretaries as well as university administrators, faculty and students.
MEAGAN KELLY/THE HOYA
President Obama spoke to Cabinet secretaries as well as university administrators, faculty and students.

President Obama discussed his administration’s plan to reduce oil dependence and ensure energy security in McDonough Arena Wednesday morning, addressing an audience of students, faculty and staff along with a number of White House officials and other government representatives.

“The United States of America cannot afford to bet our long-term prosperity and security on a resource that will eventually run out,” he said to the audience of about 1,050. “Not when your generation needs us to get this right.”

Obama’s “Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future” calls for reducing oil imports while diversifying sources of foreign oil, developing alternatives to oil such as biofuels and natural gas and encouraging the advancement of energy-efficient automobiles and public transportation.

The president began his speech by alluding to the string of recent events that have caused energy security to move to the forefront of the American public’s consciousness. He said that historically, the price of gas may rise and fall, but ultimately it becomes more expensive due to the trajectory of demand.

“And as 2 billion more people start consuming more goods, and driving more cars, and using more energy, it’s certain that demand will go up a lot faster than supply,” he said.

 

Obama said that his administration has fallen short on promises of decreasing foreign oil dependence, citing the “same political gridlock and inertia” that has been an obstacle for past administrations.

Although the speech primarily served as a broad outline of Obama’s goals, he did note that the students in the audience could be seen as the primary beneficiaries of the potential outcome of this energy security plan.

After running through the key points of his plan, all of which were connected by his long-term goal of reducing dependency on oil and positioning the country to secure self-sustaining and diversified sources of energy, Obama closed his speech by addressing that group.

“I believe it is precisely because you have come of age in a time of rapid and sometimes unsettling change — born into a world with fewer walls, educated in an era of constant information, tempered by war and economic turmoil — I think you believe, as deeply as any of our generations, that America can change for the better,” he said.

He also urged the students in attendance to be a part of this plan, stressing the powerful role of the consumer in the wider political picture.

“You’ve got to make sure you’re boosting demand of alternative fuels,” he said to a crowd of future automobile owners.

Jake Sticka (COL ’13), vice president of the College Democrats and a commissioner for the Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E, was excited to find himself among those in the audience.

“I had been invited to attend the event as a guest of White House. I was honored by the White House’s invite and feel as though it underscores this president’s commitment to young people,” he said.

In addition to a number of Georgetown administrators, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles were in attendance.

Obama also opened his speech with a nod to men’s basketball Head Coach John Thompson III.

“It turns out VCU is pretty good,” he said to Thompson, who was seated in the first row.

This is the second time in two years that Obama has spoken at Georgetown. In April 2009, he delivered a speech on the state of the economy in Gaston Hall. The address caused a wave of controversy due to the White House administration’s insistence that the president speak in front of a simple draped background; the Christian symbol “IHS” was subsequently covered over, causing some to criticize the university for covering imagery that they said was critical to the university’s Jesuit identity.

University spokeswoman Julie Bataille said that the change in location from Gaston Hall to McDonough Arena was not related to this incident.

“McDonough Arena is the venue for tomorrow’s remarks as it can accommodate the largest number of people,” she said.

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