Four years ago, other countries dominated the clean energy market and the jobs that came with it. Weíve begun to change that. Last year, wind energy added nearly half of all new power capacity in America. So letís generate even more. Solar energy gets cheaper by the year Ė so letís drive costs down even further. As long as countries like China keep going all-in on clean energy, so must we.
In the meantime, the natural gas boom has led to cleaner power and greater energy independence. Thatís why my Administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits. But I also want to work with this Congress to encourage the research and technology that helps natural gas burn even cleaner and protects our air and water.
Indeed, much of our new-found energy is drawn from lands and waters that we, the public, own together. So tonight, I propose we use some of our oil and gas revenues to fund an Energy Security Trust that will drive new research and technology to shift our cars and trucks off oil for good. If a non-partisan coalition of CEOs and retired generals and admirals can get behind this idea, then so can we. Letís take their advice and free our families and businesses from the painful spikes in gas prices weíve put up with for far too long. Iím also issuing a new goal for America: letís cut in half the energy wasted by our homes and businesses over the next twenty years. The states with the best ideas to create jobs and lower energy bills by constructing more efficient buildings will receive federal support to help make it happen.
Americaís energy sector is just one part of an aging infrastructure badly in need of repair. Ask any CEO where theyíd rather locate and hire: a country with deteriorating roads and bridges, or one with high-speed rail and internet; high-tech schools and self-healing power grids. The CEO of Siemens America Ė a company that brought hundreds of new jobs to North Carolina Ė has said that if we upgrade our infrastructure, theyíll bring even more jobs. And I know that you want these job-creating projects in your districts. Iíve seen you all at the ribbon-cuttings.
Tonight, I propose a ďFix-It-FirstĒ program to put people to work as soon as possible on our most urgent repairs, like the nearly 70,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country. And to make sure taxpayers donít shoulder the whole burden, Iím also proposing a Partnership to Rebuild America that attracts private capital to upgrade what our businesses need most: modern ports to move our goods; modern pipelines to withstand a storm; modern schools worthy of our children. Letís prove that there is no better place to do business than the United States of America. And letís start right away.
Part of our rebuilding effort must also involve our housing sector. Today, our housing market is finally healing from the collapse of 2007. Home prices are rising at the fastest pace in six years, home purchases are up nearly 50 percent, and construction is expanding again.
Following the speeches from elected officials, the crowd stands at long tables as they dig into BBQ, brunswick stew, cadillac rice at the Law Enforcement Cookout at Wayne Dasher's pond house in Glennville, Ga., on Thursday, April 17, 2014.