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World Economic Forum, "Sun, Wind and Waves: Renewable Paradise", Davos, Switzerland

01/25/2003
Remarks of Governor Christine Todd Whitman,
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
at the
World Economic Forum
A Sun, Wind and Waves: Renewable Paradise @
Davos, Switzerland

January 25, 2003


Good evening. I am pleased to have the opportunity to kick-off our discussion of the topic, A Sun, Wind and Waves: Renewable Paradise, @ which would, by the way, also make a great tourism slogan for my home state of New Jersey.

This is, however, a very important topic for the future of the world = s environment and the world = s economy.

There = s no doubt in my mind that increased investments in developing affordable, efficient, and environmentally sound sources of renewable energy will pay significant dividends in the years ahead.

In the United States, conventional methods of generating electricity make up the single largest source of air pollution.

Roughly two-thirds of my country = s sulfur dioxide emissions, a quarter of our nitrogen oxide emissions, and a third of our mercury emissions, come from conventional power plants.

These emissions contribute to a number of environmental challenges, including acid rain, fine particulate pollution, haze, and degraded water quality. They also contribute to significant health problems, especially among children and the elderly.

To reduce pollution from power plants, President Bush has proposed the Clear Skies Initiative, a bill that would use a market-based system to achieve mandatory reductions of 70 percent in the emissions of NOx, SO2 and Mercury over and above what our current Clean Air Act would achieve.

This proposal would make an enormous difference in air quality and in public health in the United States and it is the cornerstone of our efforts to achieve cleaner air.

But it is not, of course, the only thing that can be done to reduce the pollution that is caused by our increased energy needs.

Increasing the availability of affordable, renewable energy sources is a key part of the Bush Administration = s National Energy Policy and a focus of numerous EPA efforts to promote the use of A Green Power. @

Renewable energy is not, of course, just an answer to the challenge of pollution, it= s also an answer to the challenge of energy supply.

Today in the United States, renewable energy, including hydroelectric, makes up about 10 percent of total power generated.

Of course, since there is limited growth potential for hydropower, our focus for the future of renewable energy must be on biomass, geothermal, wind, and solar.

During the 1990s in the United States, electricity generation by renewable, non- hydropower sources grew by nearly 30 percent.

Currently, more than 300 power companies in 32 states offer a green power option to their customers.

We estimate that green power sources now generate enough electricity to meet the energy needs of one million homes.

So when it comes to renewable energy production and use, we have lit a candle in the United States, but we need to make the future brighter. We are not yet a renewable paradise.

That is why the President = s National Energy Policy includes a number of important proposals for increasing the availability of renewable energy in the United States.

These proposals include $4.6 billion in federal tax credits over the next five years to support the development of new renewable supplies in such areas as landfill methane recovery, wind, and biomass, and in support of residential solar energy projects.

They also include increased research and development into making renewable energy sources both more affordable and more accessible.

Clearly, we need to bring down the costs to consumers of choosing green power if we are to realize significant growth in the use of renewables.

The market can and will be a powerful tool to promote increases in the use and generation of increasing amounts of renewable energy.

Another powerful tool is the power of persuasion and positive reinforcement through effective voluntary programs.

At the EPA, we are promoting good corporate and public citizenship through our new, voluntary Green Power Partnership program.

This program provides incentives, such as technical assistance and public recognition, to organizations that agree to purchase green power within a year of signing onto the partnership.

Since we inaugurated this program just 2 years ago, more than 90 Green Power Partners have been enrolled B including Fortune 500 companies like Johnson and Johnson, cities like Chicago and states like Maryland, major universities including the University of Pennsylvania, and even other U.S. government agencies, such as the Departments of Energy and Agriculture.

Taken together, our Green Power Partners have made an annual commitment to purchase more than 600 million kilowatt hours of green power a year. Of course, this is just a start.

I believe that voluntary approaches can be powerful catalysts for increasing the use of renewable energy and harnessing the creativity and innovation of industry to meet both environmental and economic goals.

The evidence is there. For one, such partnerships are already showing success, even at a time when choosing green power is more costly (although less subject to market fluctuations in price) than conventional power sources.

In addition, because voluntary efforts bring attention to opportunities that exist because of gaps in the current marketplace, we = ve seen those efforts lead to increased private investment in emerging technologies and practices.

Voluntary efforts also provide an organization with a glowing opportunity to showcase their commitment to responsible environmental stewardship and enhance their public image.

Finally, voluntary programs focus on results, giving decision-makers the information they need to make wiser energy choices.

There = s no doubt that the promise of renewable energy sources B biomass, solar, wind, and geothermal B is just waiting to be unleashed.

If government, academia, the private sector, and civil society will work together, as partners, to increase research and development, provide incentives for use, and educate people about the environmental and economic benefits renewables can provide, I believe we can begin the journey that will lead us to a Renewable Paradise. Thank you.