Obama Talks Solar Energy, Jobs Inside Visit at Peninsula Walmart
The president stopped by a Mountain View Walmart on Friday during his Bay Area visit.
President Barack Obama visited a Walmart in Mountain View Friday, where he spoke about creating jobs, promoting energy efficiency and using solar energy at businesses.
His speech at the store, located at 600 Showers Drive, is part of a quick Democratic fundraising trip to the Bay Area after arriving Thursday afternoon.
He spoke Friday morning in front of a crowd of about 200 seated inside the store near racks of ladies' blouses and shelves of solar-powered yard lights.
He shared commitments from more than 300 private and public sector organizations to create jobs and cut carbon pollution and announced an executive action to add $2 billion in upgrades to federal buildings to make them more energy efficient, which he said would create tens of thousands of construction jobs.
He said some of the companies committed to energy efficiency include Home Depot, Apple and General Motors, and cities such as Little Rock, Arkansas, and Detroit.
He said the country "needs to adapt our economy to the reality of climate change."
The president said he supported using solar energy, reducing the amount of energy consumed throughout the country, cutting down energy costs and creating jobs.
The crowd included about 25 Walmart employees dressed in the company uniform of blue shirts and khaki pants.
Obama hailed this particular Walmart location for adding solar panels on the store roof and making other energy efficient decisions such as using LED lights. He praised Walmart for making 850 million square feet of space across the country more energy efficient.
Obama said the company is taking steps to save $1 billion a year by doubling its solar energy projects at its U.S. stores and distribution centers by 2020.
"I know this looks like a typical Walmart, but that's why I'm here," Obama said.
He said his administration is committed to building the solar workforce, helping businesses finance solar energy options and investing in more solar projects in the coming year.
"We are blessed when it comes to energy. If we do our part we will create new jobs and leave our children with a better future and a better America," the president said.
"Climate change is real and we have to act now. We can't afford to wait," he said.
The cost to install solar panels is down 60 percent, according to the president.
He said every four minutes a new home or business goes solar, which is "cheaper and easier to use than ever before."
The presidential visit drew protesters outside the store, including a local coalition demanding a higher minimum wage that would affect workers at the Mountain View Walmart and other businesses.
The Mountain View-based coalition rallied near the store Friday morning asking for the president's support of citywide minimum wage campaigns and drew attention to similar wage increases proposed at other Bay Area and Northern California cities.
A labor group, which included Walmart workers and union employees, also rallied outside in the parking lot to address income inequality, which the South Bay Labor Council claims affects Walmart workers.
The labor activists called on Obama to sway Walmart executives to reevaluate its wage and working conditions and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. The group decried Obama's praise of Walmart for using solar panels while its employees struggle to make a living wage.
The president was scheduled to return to Washington, D.C., later Friday morning.
This trip, part of a California fundraising tour, included two Thursday evening Democratic National Committee Fundraisers. The first was a roundtable discussion at the Los Altos home of 23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki followed by a fundraiser at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose.