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Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Remarks to Green Jobs Rally in Gary, Indiana, As Prepared

09/01/2009
Read the blog about this event.

As prepared for delivery.

I’m glad to be here with you. I want to thank you all for coming out to show your support.

You are here because you know that it’s time to get America and Indiana running on clean energy. You know we need millions of green jobs, a reduced dependence on foreign oil, and a cleaner environment for our kids. And you know this can work because it has been working.

Throughout the economic challenges of the last decade, one bright spot has been the growth in clean energy jobs. Between 1998 and 2007, 37 states saw clean energy jobs grow faster than overall jobs. And let me tell you: there was no red state/blue state divide when it came to those green jobs.

Kentucky, North Carolina and Texas saw clean job growth at double the rate of other jobs. Tennessee and Iowa added clean energy jobs at seven times their overall rate. South Dakota had clean jobs growth rate an astounding 19 times higher than overall jobs. Here in Indiana, while overall jobs went into the negative, clean jobs grew at almost 18%.

What we have is an energy and jobs agenda with an environmental benefit – one solution for two generational challenges. I have worked in environmental protection for more than 20 years. In that time, I’ve seen countless situations where environmental priorities have been put on hold out of fear for how they might affect economic growth. But we know better. We know that the choice between our economy and our environment is a false choice.

It’s the same old, tired argument many are using today to try and block a strong clean energy and climate bill. A clean energy bill that will create millions of clean energy jobs – including right here in Indiana.

And we don’t have time to lose. Clean energy is poised to be the global growth industry of the 21st century, but right now America is falling behind. Germany is a world-leader in solar technology. Most of the hybrid cars being sold in America are made in Japan. China is developing six wind farms of 10,000 to 20,000 megawatts a piece.

Here in the United States we have some of the greatest wind power potential on Earth. One study suggested that we could meet our full energy needs 16 times over with wind power. Yet, here in the US, progress has slowed on a 4,000-megawatt wind farm that would be our nation’s largest.

America needs to lead – but if we’re going to lead we need to get into this race. We need to unleash our innovators and workers to lead us into the clean energy future. And we need millions of good-paying, clean energy jobs that stay in Indiana and can’t be shipped overseas. We can get there with strong clean energy and climate legislation.

Now, there are people out there opposing this plan. They’re spending lots of money on TV ads and lobbyists. They’re claiming that we can’t do it. That America isn’t up to this challenge. And you can bet they’re going to be there when this bill comes up in the Senate.

So I have to ask: what is their plan to create new jobs? To get our country running on clean energy? To stop sending money overseas to fuel our economy? All their plan seems to be is this: status quo, status quo, status quo.

Status quo – like ignoring new technologies, and simply ramping up the domestic production of old energy sources. We’ve been down that path before. In 2001 we saw an energy plan focused on fossil fuels. Supporters of the plan promised that it would lower fuel costs 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 economy.

And simply increasing our use of domestic fossil fuels did nothing to reduce pollution in the air we breathe. It didn’t help millions of American children who suffer with asthma. It didn’t allow smog-choked cities to eliminate air pollution that doubles the risk of premature births. And it didn’t do anything to reduce the prevalence of cancer and other diseases linked to dirty-burning fossil fuels.

Clean energy can do all those things, and do what’s right for our economy. This is a new path – one in which our economy and our environment work hand in hand.

The opposition is also going to tell you that moving into a clean energy future is going to cost families and businesses more than they can afford. But the cost to get America running on clean energy is estimated to be about the price of a postage stamp per day for the average family, with a net reduction in costs for low income families that need it most.

I have to ask you: Would any mom or dad refuse to spend that much for the protection and well being of his or her children; to reduce the amount of money that we send overseas for oil; to place America at the lead of the global marketplace and create new American jobs that pay well and cannot be outsourced? That is a small down payment with a very big payoff. A small down payment for millions of new jobs. A small down payment that will be spent here at home, and not sent overseas to buy foreign oil. A small down payment on a safe, healthy planet for our children.

Indiana – we’ve moved beyond the false choice between our economy and our environment. Today, our choice is between the future or the past…between clean energy innovation or the status quo…between leading the world or following our foreign competitors.

It is up to us to make sure our country makes the right choice. I’m going to stand with you. And I thank you for standing with us. Thank you very much.