Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A New Energy Economy: Obama's Gift to America and the World

Transcript of President-elect Obama's press conference announcing his Environment and Energy Team. December 15, 2008.

In the 21st century, we know that the future of our economy and national security is inextricably linked with one challenge: energy. In the next few years, the choices that we make will help determine the kind of country and world that we will leave to our children and our grandchildren.

All of us know the problems that are rooted in our addiction to foreign oil. It constrains our economy, shifts wealth to hostile regimes, and leaves us dependent on unstable regions. These urgent dangers are eclipsed only by the long-term threat of climate change, which, unless we act, will lead to drought and famine abroad, devastating weather patterns, and terrible storms on our shores, and the disappearance of our coastline at home.

For over three decades, we’ve listened to a growing chorus of warnings about our energy dependence. We’ve heard president after president promise to chart a new course. We’ve heard Congress talk about energy independence, only to pull up short in the face of opposition from special interests. We’ve seen Washington launch policy after policy, yet our dependence on foreign oil has only grown, even as the world’s resources are disappearing.This time has to be different. This time we cannot fail, nor can we be lulled into complacency simply because the price at the pump has for now gone down from $4 a gallon.

To control our own destiny, America must develop new forms of energy and new ways of using it. And this is not a challenge for government alone; it’s a challenge for all of us. The pursuit of a new energy economy requires a sustained all- hands-on-deck effort, because the foundation of our energy independence is right here in America, in the power of wind and solar, in new crops and new technologies, in the innovation of our scientists and entrepreneurs and the dedication and skill of our workforce.

Those are the resources that we have to harness to move beyond our oil addiction and create a new hybrid economy. As we face this challenge, we can seize boundless opportunities for our people. We can create millions of jobs, starting with a 21st- century economic recovery plan that puts Americans to work building wind farms, solar panels, and fuel-efficient cars.

We can spark the dynamism of our economy through a long-term investment in renewable energy that will give life to new businesses and industries with good jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced.

We’ll make public buildings more efficient, modernize our electricity grid, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while protecting and preserving our natural resources. We must also recognize that the solution to global climate change must be global.

Just as we work to reduce our own emissions, we must forge international solutions to ensure that every nation is doing its part. As we do so, America will lead not just at the negotiating table; we will lead, as we always have, through innovation and discovery, through hard work and the pursuit of a common purpose.

The team that I have assembled here today is uniquely suited to meet the great challenges of this defining moment. They are leading experts and accomplished managers, and they are ready to reform government and help transform our economy so that our people are more prosperous, our nation is more secure, and our planet is protected.

Dr. Steven Chu is a Nobel Prize-winning physicist who has been working at the cutting edge of our nation’s efforts to develop new and cleaner forms of energy. Steven is uniquely suited to be our next secretary of energy as we make this pursuit a guiding purpose of the Department of Energy, as well as a national mission.His appointment should send a signal to all that my administration will value science. We will make decisions based on the facts, and we understand that facts demand bold action.

For my administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, I’ve chosen Lisa Jackson. As commissioner of New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection, she helped make her state a leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and developing new sources of energy. And she has the talent and experience to continue this effort at the EPA. Lisa also shares my commitment to restoring the EPA’s robust role in protecting our air, our water, and abundant natural resources so that our environment is cleaner and our communities are safer.

Nancy Sutley will be an integral part of this team as the chair of my Council on Environmental Quality in the White House. In recent years, we’ve seen states and cities take the initiative in forging innovative solutions on energy. she will bring this unique experience [at the state and city level] to Washington and be a key player in helping to make our government more efficient in coordinating our efforts to protect our environment at home and around the globe.

Finally, the scope of the effort before us will demand coordination across the government and my personal engagement as president. That’s why I’m naming Carol Browner to a new post in the White House to coordinate energy and climate policy. Carol understands that our efforts to create jobs, achieve energy security, and combat climate change demand integration among different agencies, cooperation between federal, state, and local governments, and partnership with the private sector. She brings the unmatched experience of being a successful and longest-serving administrator of the EPA. She will be indispensable in implementing an ambitious and complex energy policy.

Looking ahead, I’m confident that we will be ready to begin the journey towards a new energy frontier on January 20th. This will be a leading priority of my presidency and a defining test of our time. We can’t afford complacency nor accept more broken promises. We won’t create a new energy economy overnight. We won’t protect our environment overnight. But we can begin that work right now, if we think anew and if we act anew. Now we must have the will to act and to act boldly.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is great news!

And it's good that US emissions are already falling in 2008. See details at: http://setenergy.org/2008/12/15/electricity-use-falls-a-huge-5-in-september/

This green team can meet the challenge to foster an economic recovery that keeps emissions falling in 2010 and beyond.

If you find the SET daily blog on major energy and climate developments useful at www.setenergy.org , please consider adding it to your blogroll.

Onwards to sustainability,