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Speeches By EPA Administrator

 

As Prepared for Administrator Johnson, Natural Resources Committee Meeting of the National Governors Association, Traverse City, M.I.

07/22/2007
Thank you, Governor Schweitzer, for that introduction. Because of the collaborative work of NGA and governors across this country, our nation’s air, water and land are cleaner today than they were just a generation ago. I appreciate you inviting me to address an issue of concern to all of us – global climate change.

The challenge of global climate change is exactly that: global.

With developing countries like India and China soon catching and surpassing greenhouse gas emissions from developed countries, only a global strategy will sufficiently tackle this global challenge.

President Bush understands this as well. And during the recent meeting of the G8, he called upon the world’s economic leaders to set a global goal on long-term greenhouse gas reductions. Members of the G8 reached an agreement on a process for rapidly developing and concluding a new comprehensive, post-Kyoto accord on climate change, energy efficiency, and energy security. Under the framework, each country would establish midterm national targets and programs that reflect their own current and future energy needs. The framework also emphasizes the importance of transparency and accountability. The President believes that by encouraging and sharing cutting-edge technologies, major economic leaders can meet realistic reduction goals.

America is committed to being a good global neighbor. And over the past six years, the Bush Administration has been working with our international partners, helping them understand that environmental protection and economic progress can, and do, go hand in hand.

We at EPA are pleased to be a major player in this effort by investing in the international partnerships that are delivering real global results.

Take for example the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate. Through this international collaboration, EPA is working with six countries – Australia, China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, and the U.S. – which collectively account for about half of the world’s economic output, population, and energy use. Under the partnership, we are helping these countries and the private sector expand investment and trade in cleaner energy technologies, goods, and services in key market sectors.

Another program is the Methane to Markets Partnership. Launched in November 2004, this partnership of 20 countries and more than 500 public and private sector partners is working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by capturing and utilizing methane as a cleaner source of energy. In doing so, Methane to Markets is promoting energy security, economic growth, cleaner air, and reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions around the world.

These international efforts are just one aspect of our nation’s unparalleled commitments to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Global climate change is a challenge this Administration takes seriously. So much so, that since 2001, our nation has invested over $37 billion to advance climate change science, expand innovative technologies and establish tax-incentive programs. That’s more than any other country in the world.

We’re working on real and significant initiatives that will improve our energy efficiency, enhance our energy security and reduce domestic emissions of greenhouse gases. And we’re doing it on three different fronts.

The first is the transportation sector, which accounts for approximately one-third of our national greenhouse gas emissions.

There’s been a lot of news recently about this effort, specifically regarding the President’s Twenty-in-Ten legislative plan.

Announced in the State of the Union Address, the President’s plan would reduce U.S. gasoline consumption by 20 percent in the next ten years, and calls on the country to increase renewable and alternative fuel use to 35 billion gallons during that time. It would also reform the CAFE standards.

While the Administration is working with Congress to enact his plan, in May, the President directed us to move ahead and take the first regulatory step to address greenhouse gas emissions from cars. We’re working across agencies to develop a proposed regulation under the Clean Air Act by the end of this year, with final rules due out by the end of next year. This is an aggressive pace for developing any rule, let alone rules of this magnitude.

I will also make a decision by the end of this calendar year on the California petition. With two public hearings, 34,000 comments and hundreds of pages of technical and scientific analysis, we are expeditiously, but responsibly, addressing the petition.

And while implementing the President’s directive may be a first step toward addressing the Supreme Court’s decision – it is far from our first step of reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

Across the Administration, we are investing in a wide array of partnerships, which rely on voluntary measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and remove barriers to the introduction of cleaner technologies.

Some of these partnerships are helping cut the release of greenhouse gases from the power sector – responsible for approximately 40 percent of our domestic emissions.

Coal-fired power plants are an important player in this effort. Currently, about 50 percent of the electricity in the United States is generated from coal. And, at current rates of consumption, our nation’s coal reserves are large enough to meet our energy needs for more than 200 years. To achieve the Administration’s ambitious energy security goals, coal must continue to play a major role in the generation of electricity in this country. But it is important that we manage our nation’s large reserves of coal in an environmentally responsible manner.

EPA, the Department of Energy and others are currently exploring ways to burn coal more efficiently and with fewer emissions. In addition, we are seeing technologies such as carbon capture and storage that have the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired electricity generation, while allowing continued use of our ample coal reserves.

From pilot studies to evaluate carbon sequestration technologies, to building the first nearly zero emission coal fired power plant, called FutureGen, our nation is addressing its growing energy demand in a way that supports the goals for a clean environment and a healthy economy.

At EPA, we see environmental responsibility as everyone’s responsibly … so we’re helping Americans make smart decisions about how they purchase and use energy.

This brings me to the final piece of the greenhouse gas puzzle – individual consumers and the industry sector.

Today, nearly everyone has heard of ENERGY STAR – the label that signals to consumers that a product is energy efficient. This common-sense program encourages businesses and consumers to make energy efficient choices that are good for the environment and good for the bottom line.

In 2006 alone, by purchasing ENERGY STAR products, Americans saved $14 billion on their utility bills, and prevented greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 25 million cars – that’s more than all the cars in the states represented in NGA’s Natural Resources Committee combined.

Our campaign ENERGY STAR Change a Light, Change the World, is a national call-to-action to encourage every individual to help change the world, one light at a time. Going into its 8th year, the campaign kicks off on Wednesday, October 3rd. Our partners across the nation will help celebrate this day with activities, events, government proclamations, and in-store promotions around energy-efficient lighting.

To date, more than half a million Americans have pledged to replace over 1.1 million lights with ENERGY STAR lights, preventing over 460 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions and saving over 320 kilowatt hours and nearly $30 million in energy costs. This year – with your help – we can do even better. I challenge every state to declare October 3, ENERGY STAR Change a Light Day, and help us brighten America’s future literally one light at a time.
While we work to change the way Americans use their power, we’re also helping them change the type of power they purchase.

Under EPA’s Green Power Partnership, we’re driving demand for green power nationwide by encouraging an ever-increasing number of organizations to buy green power. To date, more than 750 organizations are purchasing nearly 10 billion kilowatt-hours of green power annually. Not only is EPA the founder of this program, but we now purchase 100 percent green power for our facilities.

The Green Power program is growing rapidly. Currently, seven states partners are voluntarily buying more than 126 million kilowatt-hours of green power annually.

In addition, many state and local governments are enacting clean energy policies that save energy and improve air quality. To date, 16 states have implemented or proposed statewide greenhouse gas targets … 10 states have implemented an energy efficiency portfolio standard … and 24 states have implemented a renewable portfolio standard. And with your help, these numbers will continue to grow.

But as you know, greenhouse gases include more than carbon dioxide – and we have partnership programs to help our state, local and industry partners address those as well. The Administration’s suite of methane programs – focusing on coal mines, landfills, and natural gas systems – have contributed to reducing emissions of methane by more than 10 percent below 1990 levels. This success led to the formation of the international Methane to Markets Partnership which I mentioned earlier.

Operating in over half the states in the nation, our Landfill Methane Outreach Program has helped develop more than 325 landfill gas energy projects, reducing methane emissions by over 27 million metric tons of carbon equivalent. EPA estimates that at least 560 additional landfills nationwide present attractive opportunities for methane reductions. As Governors, you are in a unique position to help us utilize our nation’s landfills a potential source of clean energy.

Coal mines present another opportunity for methane capture. That’s why EPA is supporting the first-ever U.S. demonstration of a technology to mitigate methane emissions from coal mine ventilation air, which will be conducted at an abandoned mine in West Virginia.

So what do all these programs with consumers and the transportation, energy and industry sectors really mean? Well, put simply, they are delivering real environmental results.

According to EPA data reported to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, U.S. greenhouse gas intensity declined by 1.9 percent in 2003 and by 2.4 percent in both 2004 and 2005. Looking at it another way, from 2004 to 2005, the U.S. economy grew by 3.2 percent, while greenhouse gas emissions increased by only 0.8 percent.

Both at home and abroad, we are implementing an aggressive yet practical strategy to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, protect the American economy, and engage the developing world.
As we consider new technologies and new strategies, it is essential for us to learn from the lessons of programs we have implemented at the federal, state and local levels.

Global, national and local collaboration is essential as we work to develop a clean, secure energy future. It is my hope that each of us will do our part to encourage solutions that are good for our environment, good for our economy, and good for our energy security.

Thank you, and I would be happy to answer any questions the governors’ may have.