Thursday, February 3, 2011

President Obama in State College, PA

President Obama is paying a visit today to Penn State University in State College, Pennsylvania. He was to have come yesterday, but when it became clear that yesterday's big winter storm was going to be a problem, the visit was re-scheduled for today.

President Obama will visit engineering and technology projects at the University, and apparently speak both about a major government grant to Penn State to develop energy innovation at the Philadelphia Navy Yard and about the larger issues of energy innovation, climate change, and jobs.

According to the White House announcement, the President will speak about the Better Building Initiative.

A presidential visit brings tremendous local interest and also, we are warned, a day of traffic delays and parking problems.

What will he say?

I found myself wondering if President Obama would review the history of energy technologies in Pennsylvania -- the stripping of the forests to make charcoal for iron smelters; the re-planting of the forests; the coal industry, which fueled industrial development, especially big steel; the discovery of oil and the development of the petroleum industry--which eventually moved to the West. The history of energy and Pennsylvania is a complex one -- and would of course include the story of Three Mile Island (I don't think we will hear about that today); and now the extraction of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale deposits -- bringing what some worry is another round of environmental destruction, breaking up local roads and polluting wells.

Well, he can't, and probably won't, touch on most of this. And of course, in the middle of all this, the President is dealing with Egypt, two wars, the economy.

I'm looking forward to an interesting speech. It's a big day for Penn State and State College, Pennsylvania.

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