DOI News

President Obama's Plan to Get Americans Back to Work


Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior

Tonight, President Obama delivered a plan to Congress that will help get Americans back to work and have an immediate impact on our economy.

The American Jobs Act is specific, is tangible, and can make a difference on our economy right now. Through a combination of direct spending, such as infrastructure investments, and tax relief, such as an extension of the payroll tax cuts, it will lead to new American jobs and won’t add to the deficit. Congress should pass this legislation.

At Interior, we have an important role to play in strengthening our economy and creating jobs.

First, we are helping to implement the President’s vision for a safe, secure energy future. We continue to expand the safe and responsible development of America’s conventional resources, such as oil, gas, and coal. We have also made historic progress in standing up renewable energy projects on public lands – projects that will help us lead the 21st century global economy and create American jobs that cannot be exported.

Just last month, for example, First Solar hired 440 people in California to build a 550 megawatt solar farm. This is a project Interior approved to be built on public lands in the sunny California desert and is expected to generate enough electricity to power 165,000 homes. Eventually, First solar will employ up to 630 people to complete this solar project. These are real people, real jobs, and real progress toward a clean energy future.

Second, at Interior we know the power of outdoor recreation and tourism to create jobs. Our national parks, refuges, and public lands are huge economic contributors to our nation’s economy. In fact, hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation contribute an estimated $730 billion to the U.S. economy each year - and one in twenty U.S. jobs are in the recreation economy.

And we can do more: according to a McKinsey & Company report from June, the leisure and hospitality sector is the fifth-largest employer in the United States. McKinsey estimates that the leisure and hospitality sector could add 2.1 to 3.3 million jobs in this decade – the third highest job growth potential by sector.

In short, when we invest in conservation and encourage people to get outside, we aren’t just investing in the land, water, and wildlife we love, but also in our economic future.