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Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Remarks at a Clean Energy Forum in Seattle, WA, As Prepared

12/04/2009
As prepared for delivery.

As we are hearing, there are a whole host of reasons to support clean American energy. There are security reasons. There are environmental reasons. And there are public health reasons. But perhaps the most compelling reason at this moment is the economy.

Everywhere in American, people are doing the hard work of pulling our economy up and out of the most significant downturn since World War II. We are not only addressing the immediate concerns. We are also laying a foundation for our economic future. And a cornerstone of that foundation is a clean energy economy.

This year, energy investments in the President’s Recovery Act are expected to create thousands of jobs through solar projects in Florida, wind energy development in Michigan, and a solar plant in California. We’ve initiated the development of new battery technology for electric vehicles and taken the first steps toward building a national smart grid to efficiently deliver our clean American energy supply. Yesterday at Bell Harbor I announced $16 million in Recovery Grants to upgrade more than 1,800 engines to clean diesel. That grant is good for the economy, good for the environment, and good for reducing the health threats of diesel exhaust – which the Washington Department of Ecology has identified as the state’s most harmful air pollutant.

These are the earliest examples of a clean energy economy that is taking hold all across the nation. But we still have lots of work to do.

Many will claim that we can get by with the status quo – but we’ve been down that path before. In 2001 we saw an energy plan focused on fossil fuels. Supporters of that plan pledged that it would lower fuel costs for consumers and businesses, and reduce our growing dependence on foreign oil. But it didn’t work. It didn’t work for our security. It didn’t work for our environment. And it certainly didn’t work for our businesses. Since 2001 crude oil prices have gotten higher and higher. The price we pay at the pump has skyrocketed. Energy bills for homes and businesses have gone up. And our dangerous dependence on foreign oil had increased.

And simply increasing domestic fossil fuels does nothing to reduce pollution in our air. It won’t help millions of American children who suffer with asthma. It won’t allow cities to eliminate smog and other air pollution. Nor will it do anything to reduce the prevalence of cancer and other diseases linked to dirty-burning fossil fuels.

When we compare our two options, on the one hand the dirty burning fuel supply we use today has gotten more expensive. It has damaged the health of our kids and our communities. It has cost billions of dollars in health costs, and sent billions more overseas each year, rather than keeping that money here in our own economy. On the other hand, clean energy has created jobs. As market share has grown and technology improved, the cost of clean energy has continued to go down.

A strong clean energy and climate bill can stabilize the investment market, prompting clean energy innovations that will keep the clean energy cost per kilowatt hour coming down. And clean energy has put us on a course towards improving our national security, our environmental sustainability, and our economic competitiveness.

In broad terms, clean energy jobs are up and clean energy costs are down. Fossil fuel costs are up, the health costs of fossil fuel pollution are up, and more and more of the money we pay for fossil fuels is going to other countries.

The question is: which of those two paths do we want to follow for our future? I look forward to discussing the answers to that question today. Thank you.