Barack Obama welcomed in Gaston

September 21, 2006

Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) made an impassioned bid for clean energy in front of an overwhelmingly supportive audience in Gaston Hall yesterday.

Obama’s 20-minute address was interrupted frequently by cheers and applause, as the students, faculty and local residents packing the auditorium appeared united in their enthusiasm for the youthful politician from Illinois.

photo by Eric Mittereder

The environment is a keynote issue for Obama, who serves on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and is a prominent voice for conservation in the United States. On Wednesday, Obama called on the current administration to shake off American dependence on oil and find alternative, ecologically friendly sources of fuel.

“There’s a temptation to put any discussion of energy on the back burner until the next crisis,” he said. “For all our economic dominance, for all our military might, our Achilles heel is the oil we can’t live without.”

Obama went on to outline his vision for a national switch to non-petroleum-based fuel, which includes upping domestic ethanol production and providing financial incentives for the American auto industry to build hybrid cars.

The address was sponsored by, a liberal political action committee.

Alex Kolodin (SFS ‘09), after listening to Obama, remained doubtful about the wisdom of the Senator’s plan—a concern he raised in the question-and-answer session following the speech.

“I wonder why he thinks it’s a good idea to be subsidizing so much money into hybrid cars when the Japanese are doing it better already,” Kolodin, a member of the College Republicans, said afterward.

Obama came out in direct criticism of the administration of President George W. Bush only once.

“It’s this timidity, this smallness in our government that’s holding us back,” he said. “For them, it’s this idea that some problems are just too big to handle.”

Additional reporting by Anna Bank

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