Category Archives: energy

President’s Weekly Address: Taking Control of America’s Energy Future, 11/16/13

“Hi, everybody. On Thursday, I visited a steel plant in Cleveland, Ohio to talk about what we’re doing to rebuild our economy on a new foundation for stronger, more durable economic growth.

One area where we’ve made great progress is American energy. After years of talk about reducing our dependence on foreign oil, we are actually poised to control our own energy future.

Shortly after I took office, we invested in new American technologies to reverse our dependence on foreign oil and double our wind and solar power. And today, we generate more renewable energy than ever – with tens of thousands of good, American jobs to show for it. We produce more natural gas than anyone – and nearly everyone’s energy bill is lower because of it. And just this week, we learned that for the first time in nearly two decades, the United States of America now produces more of our own oil here at home than we buy from other countries.

That’s a big deal. That’s a tremendous step towards American energy independence.

But this is important, too: we reached this milestone in part not only because we’re producing more energy, but because we’re wasting less energy. We set new fuel standards for our cars and trucks so that they’ll go twice as far on a gallon of gas by the middle of the next decade. That’s going to save an average driver more than $8,000 at the pump over the life of a new car. We also launched initiatives to put people to work upgrading our homes, businesses, and factories so that they waste less energy. That’s going to save our businesses money on their energy bills – that’s money they can use to hire more workers.

Here’s another thing. Between more clean energy, and less wasted energy, our emissions of dangerous carbon pollution are actually falling. That’s good news for anyone who cares about the world we leave to our kids.

And while our carbon emissions have been dropping, our economy has been growing. Our businesses have created 7.8 million new jobs in the past 44 months. It proves that the old argument that we can’t strengthen the economy and be good stewards of our planet at the same time is a false choice. We can do both. And we have to do both.

More good jobs. Cheaper and cleaner sources of energy. A secure energy future. Thanks to the grit and resilience of American businesses and the American people, that’s where we’re heading. And as long as I’m President, that’s where we’re going to keep heading – to leave our children a stronger economy, and a safer planet.

Thanks, and have a great weekend.”

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President Obama Speaks on Manufacturing and the Economy in Cleveland, Ohio, 11/14/13

The President:

“But we rolled up our sleeves, we made some tough choices. We rescued and retooled the American auto industry; it saved more than a million jobs. We bet on American ingenuity and American workers. (Applause.) And assembly lines started humming again, and automakers started to make cars again. And just a few months after this plant shut down, your plant manager got the call: Fire those furnaces back up, get those workers back on the job. And over the last four years, you’ve made yourselves one of the most productive steel mills not just in America, but in the world. In the world. (Applause.) ….

So we invested in new American technologies to reverse our addiction to foreign oil, double wind power, double solar power, produce more oil, produce more natural gas, and do it all in a way that is actually bringing down some of our pollution, making our entire economy more energy-efficient. Today, we generate more renewable energy than ever. We produce more natural gas than anybody in the world. Just yesterday, we learned that for the first time since 1995, the United States of America produces more of our own oil here at home than we buy from other countries. First time since 1995. (Applause.) And that’s a big deal. That’s what America has done these past five years.

And that is a huge competitive advantage for us. Part of the reason companies now want to move — we were just talking about it — this plant, if it’s located in Germany, energy costs are double, maybe triple; same in Japan. So this gives us a big edge. But this is also important: We reached the milestone not just because we’re producing more energy, but also we’re wasting less energy. And this plant is a good example of it. We set new fuel standards that double the distance our cars and trucks go on a gallon of gas by the middle of the next decade. That saves the average driver, everybody here, more than $8,000 at the pump over the life of a new car. You like that? (Applause.) We launched initiatives to put people to work upgrading our homes, and our businesses, and our factories so we’re wasting less energy. All that saves businesses money on their energy bills. Your plant is one of the hundreds to answer that call. And if you’re saving money on energy costs, that means you can invest in equipment, invest in workers, hire more people, produce more products.

And here’s another thing: Between more clean energy, less wasted energy, the carbon pollution that’s helping to warm the planet, that actually starts going down. And that’s good news for anybody who cares about leaving a planet to our kids that is as beautiful as the one we got from our parents and our grandparents. (Applause.) So it’s a win-win. Our economy keeps growing, creating new jobs, which means that strengthening our energy security and increasing energy efficiency doesn’t have to be a choice between the environment and the economy — we can do both.

….And we’ve tackled a broken health care system. Obviously, we’re not done yet. (Applause.) ….But just keep in mind that if businesses’ health care costs are growing at about one-third the rate that they were a decade ago, that makes America a more affordable place to do business, and it also means that the investors here, if they’re putting less money into health care costs, they can put more money in terms of hiring more workers and making sure that they’re getting good pay….

But I didn’t run for President to go back to where we were. I want us to go forward. I want us to go towards the future. (Applause.) I want us to get us to where we need to be. I want to solve problems, not just put them off. I want to solve problems. And we’ve got to do more to create more good, middle-class jobs like the ones folks have here.

That means we’ve got to do everything we can to prepare our children and our workers for the competition that they’re going to face. We should be doing everything we can to help put some sort of advanced education within reach for more young people….

Another thing we should be working on: Fixing a broken immigration system. (Applause.) When you think about this whole region, a lot of folks forget, but almost everybody who worked in that plant 100 years ago came from someplace else. And so we’ve got now a new generation of hopeful, striving immigrants; we’ve got to make sure that they come legally and that we do what we need to secure our borders, but we’ve also got to make sure that we’re providing them opportunity just like your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents received when they arrived at this plant. And that’s important. (Applause.) And, by the way, it will help our economy grow because then they’re paying taxes and helping to invest and build here in America.

We should do everything we can to revitalize American manufacturing. Manufacturing is — that’s the hub of our economy. When our manufacturing base is strong, the entire economy is strong. A lot of service jobs depend on servicing manufacturing jobs. And, typically, manufacturing jobs pay a little bit better. So that’s been a path, a ticket to the middle class. So when we make steel and cars, make them here in America, that helps. Like I said, the work may be hard but it gives you enough money to buy a home and raise a kid, retire and send your kids to school.

And those kinds of jobs also tell us something else. It’s not just how much you get in your paycheck, it’s also a sense of, “I’m making something and I’m helping to build this country.” It helps establish a sense of — that we’re invested in this country. (Applause.) It tells us what we’re worth as a community…

And let me make one last point. We have to do everything we can to make sure every American has access to quality, affordable health care, period. (Applause.) … But we’re not going to go back to the old system, because the old system was broken. And every year, thousands of Americans would get dropped from coverage or denied their medical history or exposed to financial ruin. You guys are lucky that you work at a company with a strong union that gives you good health benefits.

(Applause.) But you know friends and family members who don’t have it, and you know what it’s like when they get sick. You know how scary it is for them when they get sick. Or some of them have health insurance — they think they do — and they get sick, and suddenly the insurance company says, oh, I’m sorry, you owe $50,000. That’s not covered. Or they jack up your premium so you can’t afford it because you had some sort of preexisting condition. That happens every day.

So we’re not going to let that happen. We’re not going to let folks who pay their premiums on time get jerked around. And we’re not going to walk away from the 40 million Americans without health insurance. (Applause.) We are not going to gut this law. We will fix what needs to be fixed, but we’re going to make the Affordable Care Act work. And those who say they’re opposed to it and can’t offer a solution, we’ll push back. (Applause.)

I got to give your Governor a little bit of credit. John Kasich, along with a lot of state legislators who are here today, they expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. And think about that. Just that one step means as many as 275,000 Ohioans are going to have health insurance. And it doesn’t depend on a website. That’s already happening because of the Affordable Care Act. (Applause.)

And I think it’s fair to say that the Governor didn’t do it because he just loves me so much. (Laughter.) We don’t agree on much, but he saw, well, this makes sense — why wouldn’t we do this? Why wouldn’t we make sure that hundreds of thousands of people right here in Ohio have some security? It was the right thing to do. And, by the way, if every Republican governor did what Kasich did here rather than play politics about it, you’d have another 5.4 million Americans who could get access to health care next year, regardless of what happens with the website. That’s their decision not to do it. And it’s the wrong decision. They’ve got to go ahead and sign folks up.

So the bottom line is sometimes we just have to set aside the politics and focus on what’s good for people…”

Complete text: http://1.usa.gov/HTDgNz

President Obama Speaks at the 2013 Tribal Nations Conference, 11/13/13

The President:

“Now, most of all, I want to thank all of you, especially the tribal leaders who are here today. And I understand, actually, we’ve got more tribal leaders here than we ever have at any of these conferences. So it just keeps on growing each year, which is wonderful news. (Applause.) You represent more than 300 tribal nations, each of you with your own extraordinary heritage, each a vital part of a shared American family. And as a proud adopted member of the Crow Nation, let me say kaheé — welcome — to all of you.

Now, after I became President, I said that given the painful chapters and broken promises in our shared history, I’d make sure this country kept its promises to you. I promised that tribal nations would have a stronger voice in Washington –- that as long as I was in the White House, it would be your house, too. And for the past five years, my administration has worked hard to keep that promise –- to build a new relationship with you based on trust and respect.

And this new relationship wasn’t just about learning from the past. It was also about the here and now –- recognizing the contributions that your communities make to enrich the United States every single day. Native Americans are doctors and teachers and businessmen and women, and veterans and service members. And they get up every morning and help make America stronger and more prosperous and more just.

And I want to build on our true government-to-government relationship as well. So I’m proud to have Native Americans serving with dedication in my administration, including Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs, Kevin Washburn of the Chickasaw Nation; my Senior Advisor for Native American Affairs, Jodi Gillette of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe — (applause) — our [inter]governmental affairs office, we’ve got Charlie Galbraith of the Navajo Nation….

And while we should be proud of what we’ve achieved together in recent years, we also should be focused on all the work that we still have to do.

I know we’ve got members of the Iroquois nation here today. And I think we could learn from the Iroquois Confederacy, just as our Founding Fathers did when they laid the groundwork for our democracy. The Iroquois called their network of alliances with other tribes and European nations a “covenant chain.” Each link represented a bond of peace and friendship. But that covenant chain didn’t sustain itself. It needed constant care, so that it would stay strong. And that’s what we’re called to do, to keep the covenant between us for this generation and for future generations. And there are four areas in particular where I think we need to focus.

First, let’s keep our covenant strong by strengthening justice and tribal sovereignty. We’ve worked with you in good faith to resolve longstanding disputes like establishing the Land Buy Back Program to consolidate Indian lands and restore them to tribal trust lands. We’ve reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, so tribes can prosecute those who commit domestic violence in Indian Country, whether they’re Native American or not. (Applause.) I signed changes to the Stafford Act, to let tribes directly request disaster assistance, because when disasters like floods or fires strike, you shouldn’t have to wait for a middleman to get the help you need. (Applause.)

But there’s more we can do to return more control to your communities. And that’s why I’m urging Congress to reauthorize the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act — because your communities know your affordable housing needs better than Washington does. (Applause.) It’s why we’ll keep pushing Congress to pass the Carcieri fix, so that more tribal nations can put their land into federal trust. (Applause.) And we’ve heard loud and clear your frustrations when it comes to the problem of being fully reimbursed by the federal government for the contracted services you provide, so we’re going to keep working with you and Congress to find a solution. (Applause.) That’s all going to be part of making sure that we’re respecting the nation-to-nation relationship.

Now, second, we’ve got to keep our covenant strong by expanding opportunity for Native Americans. We’ve created jobs building new roads and high-speed Internet to connect more of your communities to the broader economy. We’ve made major investments in job training and tribal colleges and universities. But the fact remains Native Americans face poverty rates that are higher by far than the national average. And that’s more than a statistic, that’s a moral call to action. We’ve got to do better.

So I said to some of you that I met with yesterday, growing our economy, creating new jobs is my top priority. We’ve got to stop the self-inflicted wounds in Washington. Because for many tribal nations, this year’s harmful sequester cuts and last month’s government shutdown made a tough situation worse. Your schools, your police departments, child welfare offices are all feeling the squeeze. That’s why I’m fighting for a responsible budget that invests in the things that we need in order to grow -– things like education, and job training, and affordable housing and transportation, including for Native American communities. And we’re going to work to make sure Native American-owned businesses have greater access to capital and to selling their goods overseas. So we’ve got to build the economy, create more opportunity.

Number three, we’ve got to keep our covenant strong by making sure Native Americans have access to quality, affordable health care just like everybody else. That’s one of the reasons we fought hard to pass the Affordable Care Act, and we’re working overtime to make sure the law works the way it’s supposed to. For Native Americans, this means more access to comprehensive, affordable coverage. It permanently reauthorizes the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, which provides care to so many in your communities.

And let me just give you one example of how this law is already working for tribal nations. Thanks to the ACA, the Puyallup Tribal Health Authority in Washington State created the country’s first tribal family medicine residency program. Patients are cared for in a culturally sensitive way, often by Native American staff. And we’re seeing results -– a young physician caring for a revered Tribal Elder; a doctor who has delivered babies in the community for years, and now his son is also doing the same. And that’s creating more quality health care, but also sustaining bonds between generations. That’s progress that we need to build on.

And then the fourth area that we’ve got to work on is, let’s keep our covenant strong by being good stewards of native homelands, which are sacred to you and your families. I saw the beauty of Crow Agency, Montana, when I was a candidate for this office. Next year, I’ll make my first trip to Indian Country as President. (Applause.)

The health of tribal nations depends on the health of tribal lands. So it falls on all of us to protect the extraordinary beauty of those lands for future generations. And already, many of your lands have felt the impacts of a changing climate, including more extreme flooding and droughts. That’s why, as part of the Climate Action Plan I announced this year, my administration is partnering with you to identify where your lands are vulnerable to climate change, how we can make them more resilient.

And working together, we want to develop the energy potential of tribal lands in a responsible way and in accordance with tribal wishes. Over the last four years, we’ve more than doubled oil and gas revenues on tribal lands –- a big reason why the United States is now more energy independent. So we’re working with tribes to get more renewable energy projects, like solar and wind, up and running. Your lands and your economies can be a source of renewable energy and the good local jobs that come with it….

And we don’t have to look far for inspiration. Some of you know, Monday obviously was Veterans’ Day, a time to honor all who have worn America’s uniform. (Applause.) I know everyone here is proud that Native Americans have such a high enlistment rate in our military. And we’ve seen generations of patriotic Native Americans who have served with honor and courage, and we draw strength from them all.

We draw strength from the Navajo Code Talkers whose skill helped win the Second World War. (Applause.) We draw strength from Woodrow Wilson Keeble, who many years after his death was finally awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism in the Korean War. (Applause.) We draw strength from — and I want to make sure I get this right — Lori Piestewa, who during the Iraq war was the first known Native American woman to give her life in combat for the United States. (Applause.) And we draw strength from all our men and women in uniform today, including two pilots I rely on when I step onto Marine One -– Major Paul Bisulca, from the Penobscot Nation, and Major Eli Jones, of the Shoshone Bannock. And those guys are carrying me around, keeping me safe. (Applause.)

So on this Veterans Day week, even though it’s technically not Veterans Day, I want to ask all the veterans in the audience –- including several legendary Navajo Code Talkers who are here
-– if you can, please stand, accept our gratitude. (Applause.)

For generations, these men and women have helped keep our covenant strong. So now we’ve got to keep strong what they’ve built, for this and generations to come. It falls to us to keep America the place where no matter where you come from, what you look like, you can always make it as long as you try, as long as you work hard. And I know that that’s what — all of you are working hard. That’s what you represent as leaders of the communities that are represented here from coast to coast. I want you to know that’s what I’m working for. That’s the partnership that I cherish, and I will cherish as long as I have the honor of serving as your President.

So thank you. God bless you. God bless the United States of America. Thank you. (Applause.)”

President’s Weekly Address, 6/1/13: Congress Should Take Action to Continue Growing the Economy

In this week’s address, President Obama says that the economy is moving in the right direction, but there is still more work to do. He called on Congress to act to give every responsible homeowner the chance to save money on their mortgage by refinancing at historically low interest rates, put more Americans to work rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, and fix our broken immigration system, so that we can continue to grow our economy and create good middle class jobs.

“Hi, everybody. Over the past four and a half years, we’ve been fighting our way back from an economic crisis and punishing recession that cost millions of Americans their jobs, their homes, and the sense of security they’d worked so hard to build.

And thanks to the grit and determination of the American people, our businesses have now created nearly 7 million new jobs over the past 38 months.

An auto industry that was flatlining is once again the heartbeat of American manufacturing – with Americans buying more cars than we have in five years.

Within the next few months, we’re projected to begin producing more of our own crude oil at home than we buy from other countries – the first time that’s happened in 16 years.

Deficits that were growing for years are now shrinking at the fastest rate in decades. The rise of health care costs is slowing, too.

And a housing market that was in tatters is showing new signs of real strength. Sales are rising. Foreclosures are declining. Construction is expanding. And home prices that are rising at the fastest rate in nearly seven years are helping a lot of families breathe a lot easier.

Now we need to do more.

This week, my administration announced that we’re extending a program to help more responsible families modify their mortgages so they can stay in their homes.

But to keep our housing market and our economy growing, Congress needs to step up and do its part. Members of Congress will be coming back next week for an important month of work. We’ve got to keep this progress going until middle-class families start regaining that sense of security. And we can’t let partisan politics get in the way.

Congress should pass a law giving every responsible homeowner the chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgage by refinancing at historically low interest rates.

Congress should put more Americans to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, like the one that collapsed last week in Washington state. We’d all be safer, and the unemployment rate would fall faster.

And Congress should fix our broken immigration system by passing commonsense reform that continues to strengthen our borders; holds employers accountable; provides a pathway to earned citizenship; and also modernizes our legal immigration system so that we’re reuniting families and attracting the highly-skilled entrepreneurs and engineers who will help our economy grow.

So there are a lot of reasons to feel optimistic about where we’re headed as a country – especially after all we’ve fought through together. We’ve just got to keep going. Because we’ve got more good jobs to create. We’ve got more kids to educate. We’ve got more doors of opportunity to open for anyone who’s willing to work hard enough to walk through those doors.

And if we work together, I’m as confident as I’ve ever been that we’ll get to where we need to be.

Thanks and have a great weekend.”

Source: http://1.usa.gov/15nT2H4

Call your member of Congress: Remarks by the President on College Affordability, 5/31/13

“The good news is, today, our businesses have created nearly 7 million new jobs over the past 38 months. 500,000 of those jobs are in manufacturing. We’re producing more of our own energy, we’re consuming less energy, and we’re importing less from other countries. The housing market is coming back. The stock market has rebounded. Our deficits are shrinking at the fastest pace in 50 years. People’s retirement savings are growing again. The rise of health care costs are slowing. The American auto industry is back.

So we’re seeing progress, and the economy is starting to pick up steam. The gears are starting to turn again, and we’re getting some traction. But the thing is, the way we measure our progress as a country is not just where the stock market is; it’s not just to how well the folks at the top are doing; it’s not just about the aggregate economic numbers. It’s about how much progress ordinary families are making. Are we creating ladders of opportunity for everybody who’s willing to work hard? Are we creating not only a growing economy, but also the engine that is critical to long-lasting, sustained economic growth — and that is a rising, thriving middle class. That’s our focus. That’s what we’ve got to be concerned about every single day. That’s our North Star.

And that means there are three questions we have to ask ourselves as a nation. Number one: How do we make America a magnet for good jobs in this competitive 21st century economy? Number two: How do we make sure that our workers earn the skills and education they need to do those jobs? And number three: How do we make sure those jobs actually pay a decent wage or salary, so that people can save for retirement, send their kids to college?

Those are the questions we’ve got to be asking ourselves every single day. So we’re here today to talk about that second question. How do we make sure our workers earn the skills and education they need to do the jobs that companies are hiring for right now, and are going to keep hiring for in the future? We know that the surest path to the middle class is some form of higher education — a four-year degree, a community college degree, an advanced degree. You’re going to need more than just a high school education to succeed in this economy….

Now, the good news is over the past four years, my administration has done a lot to address this. Working with members of Congress, we’ve expanded student aid. We’ve reformed the student loan system. We’ve saved tens of billions of taxpayer dollars that were just going to big banks, and made sure that the money went to helping more young people afford college.

We made it easier to pay back those loans by passing a law that says you’ll only have to pay 10 percent of your monthly income towards your student — federal student loans once you graduate. This is important to emphasize, by the way, because a lot of your peers, a lot of young people don’t know this. Under existing law that we passed, you never have to pay more than 10 percent of your income in paying back your federal student loans, which means if you want to be a teacher, you want to go into a profession that does not pay a lot of money but gives you a lot of satisfaction, you are still capable of doing that and supporting yourself.

We unveiled a new college scorecard that gives parents and students the clear, concise information that you need to shop around for a school with the best value for you. And I’ve made it clear that those colleges that don’t do enough to keep college costs down should get less taxpayer support.

So we’re doing what we can, but here’s the thing: If Congress doesn’t act by July 1st, federal student loan rates are set to double. And that means that the average student with those loans will rack up an additional $1,000 in debt. That’s like a $1,000 tax hike. I assume most of you cannot afford that. Anybody here can afford that? No.

Now, if this sounds like déjà vu all over again, that’s because it is. We went through this last summer. Some of you were here. It wasn’t as hot. (Laughter.) I don’t think we did this event outside. (Laughter.) But we went through this. And eventually, Congress listened to all the parents and young people who said “don’t double my rate.” And because folks made their voices heard, Congress acted to keep interest rates low. But they only did it for a year and that year is almost up.

So the test here is simple. We’ve got to make sure that federal student loan rates don’t double on July 1st. Now, the House of Representatives has already passed a student loan bill, and I’m glad that they took action. But unfortunately, their bill does not meet that test. It fails to lock in low rates for students next year. That’s not smart. It eliminates safeguards for lower-income families. That’s not fair. It could actually cost a freshman starting school this fall more over the next four years than if we did nothing at all and let the interest rates double on July 1st.

So the House bill isn’t smart and it’s not fair. I’m glad the House is paying attention to it, but they didn’t do it in the right way. So I’m asking young people to get involved and make your voices heard once again. Last year, you convinced 186 Republicans in the House and 24 Republicans in the Senate to work with Democrats to keep student loan rates low. You made something bipartisan happen in this town that is — that’s a powerful thing. You guys were able to get Democrats and Republicans to vote for something that was important.

So this year, if it looks like your representatives have changed their minds, you’re going to have to call them up again or email them again or Tweet them again and ask them what happened, what changed? You’re still taking out these loans. You’re still facing challenges.

Remind them that we’re a people who help one another earn an education, because it benefits all of us. During the Civil War, Lincoln had the foresight to set up a system of land grant colleges. At the end of World War II, we set up the GI Bill so that people like my grandfather could come back from a war and get an education. All these things created the greatest middle class on Earth.”

Full text: http://1.usa.gov/12m8eXP

Weekly Address: The President Talks About How to Build a Rising, Thriving Middle Class, 5/18/13

President Obama talks about his belief that a rising, thriving middle class is the true engine of economic growth, and that to reignite that engine and continue to build on the progress we’ve made over the last four years, we need to invest in three areas: jobs, skills and opportunity.

“More than anything, the American people make me optimistic about where we’re headed as a nation. Especially after all we’ve been through the past several years. And that should encourage us to work even harder on the issues that matter to you.

In a little over three years, our businesses have created more than 6.5 million new jobs. And while our unemployment rate is still too high, it’s the lowest it’s been since 2008. But now we need to create even more good, middle-class jobs, and we need to do it faster.

Corporate profits have skyrocketed to all-time highs. But now we need to get middle-class wages and incomes rising too.

Our housing market is healing. But we still need to help a lot more families stay in their homes, or refinance to take advantage of historically low rates.

And our deficits are shrinking at the fastest rate in decades. But now we need to budget in a smarter way that doesn’t hurt middle-class families or harm critical investments in our future.

So in a lot of sectors, things are looking up. The American auto industry is thriving. American energy is booming. And American ingenuity in our tech sector has the potential to change the way we do almost everything.”

Full text: http://1.usa.gov/19JA79I

President Obama Holds a Press Conference with President Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica, May 3, 2013

“And I’m here because Costa Rica is a great partner not just regionally, but globally. Given Costa Rica’s proud democratic traditions, we stand up together for democracy and justice and human rights in Central America and across the hemisphere. And I want to commend Costa Rica for your landmark law against the scourge of human trafficking. I’m proud to be here as you host World Press Freedom Day. So everybody from the American press corps, you should thank the people of Costa Rica for celebrating free speech and an independent press as essential pillars of our democracy.

Costa Rica shows the benefits of trade that is free and fair. Over the last few years, under the Central America Free Trade Agreement, our trade with Costa Rica has doubled, creating more jobs for people in both of our countries. Our partnerships are creating more opportunities for small businesses and entrepreneurs, including young people and women. As I told President Chinchilla, the United States will continue to be your partner as Costa Rica modernizes its economy so that you’re attracting more investment and creating even more trade and more jobs.

Costa Rica, of course, has long been a leader in sustainable development that protects the environment. The President and I agreed to continue deepening our clean energy partnerships. For example, we’re moving ahead with our regional effort to ensure universal access to clean, affordable, sustainable electricity for the people of the Americas, including Costa Ricans. And this is also another way that we can meet our shared commitments to address climate change.

The President and I reaffirmed our determination to confront the growing security concerns that have affected many Costa Rican families and communities. And under the Central America Regional Security Initiative, the United States has committed nearly half a billion dollars to helping Costa Rica and its neighbors in this fight. We’re disrupting drug cartels and gangs. We’re working to strengthen law enforcement and the judicial system. And we’re addressing the underlying forces that fuel criminality — with prevention programs for at-risk youth and with economic development that gives young people hope and opportunity.

Meanwhile, as I said in Mexico yesterday, the United States recognizes that we’ve got responsibilities; that much of the violence in the region is fueled by demand for illegal drugs, including in the United States. So we’re going to keep on pursuing a comprehensive approach not only through law enforcement, but also through education and prevention and treatment that can reduce demand.

And finally, I updated the President on our efforts in the United States to pass comprehensive immigration reform. I know this is of great interest to the entire region, especially those with families in our country. And I’m optimistic that we’re going to achieve reform that reflects our heritage as both a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants — men and women and children who need to be treated with full dignity and respect.”

Full text: http://1.usa.gov/11JKVBI