Barack Obama has unveiled his vision for an American economy based on clean energy and independence from foreign oil.
Speaking at a wind tower production facility in Iowa on Earth Day, the president warned against accepting the status quo and energy companies who paint change as danger.
"We can't afford that approach anymore - not when the cost for our economy, for our country, and for our planet is so high," he said.
Mr Obama, ruling out the choice between saving the United States' environment and saving its economy, declared that the country that capitalises most on new energy sources will become the leading 21st century global economy.
"America can be that nation," the president continued. "America must be that nation."
President Obama explained his proposals for a market-based cap on carbon emissions that the US economy is allowed to produce as an effort to essentially turn pollution into a commodity and create a carbon-trading market.
"Over time, as the cap on greenhouse gases is lowered, the commodity becomes scarcer - and the price goes up," he said.
"And year by year, companies and consumers would have greater incentive to invest in clean energy and energy efficiency as the price of the status quo became more expensive."