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Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Remarks to the 2nd Annual Governors’ Global Climate Summit, As Prepared

09/30/2009
As prepared for delivery.

It’s my honor to welcome you to the Governors’ Climate Summit. Thank you to our host, Governor Schwarzenegger, and co-hosts Governor Gregoire from Washington and Governor Kulongoski from Oregon.

Last year, Governor Schwarzenegger convened leaders from across the globe to discuss this shared challenge. By doing so again this year, he’s demonstrated that he is a true leader in the fight to stop climate change. He has been nothing short of a remarkable voice on this issue. And I’m glad to see that moving from Hollywood to Sacramento has not stopped him from trying to save the world. Thank you, Governor Schwarzenegger.

I also want to thank him – and everyone here – for making this a broad and bipartisan event. It can often feel like the poles of our debate are growing at the same rate the poles on our planet are shrinking. I’m heartened that we can all meet here with a common purpose.

Let me also thank you – as your keynote – for allowing me to welcome you when – as part of the EPA and the federal government – I am the newcomer here. For too many years, states, cities and towns concerned about climate change have had to go it alone – typically without federal partnership, and sometimes with aggressive federal opposition. I know from my time as Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection – where we joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and stepped up state efforts on clean energy – exactly how challenging it has been. But I also know that it sparked incredible creativity and leadership, especially here in California.

California has been out front on energy efficiency, greenhouse gas reduction, transportation innovation, and so much more. In many ways, the country is once again catching up with what’s happening here. That is literally true with one of President Obama’s signature initiatives – a groundbreaking agreement on national fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards for vehicles. 15 days ago, the Secretary of Transportation and I signed a formal proposal setting standards of 35.5 MPG by 2016, and containing the first ever national action to significantly control greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles. That breakthrough had its roots in the California waiver, which President Obama directed EPA to reconsider almost as soon as we stepped into office. To stay ahead of the game – rather than just play catch up – discussions are already underway between California, EPA, and DOT on what happens in 2017 and beyond.

Last year, President-elect Obama promised the first Governors’ Climate Summit that his Presidency will be a “new chapter in America’s leadership on climate change.” This year, I would like to read you the first pages of that chapter. Now is the time for this administration to take action against the greatest environmental challenge of our time, and claim the national and international leadership expected of us.

Central to our progress is getting America running efficiently on clean energy. We can create millions of good jobs that can't be shipped overseas, cut carbon emissions, and keep billions of dollars here at home by reducing our dependence on foreign oil. Comprehensive legislation from the US Congress is the next frontier – and we are closer today than we have ever been before. The House has already passed the bill from LA’s own Congressmen Henry Waxman and Massachusetts’ Ed Markey. Today, we saw the introduction of a Senate bill from another great Massachusetts-California duo: Senator’s Boxer and Kerry. That marks the start of the Senate's work to pass a bill this year. EPA is ready to work with Congress – and all of you – to bring a strong climate and energy bill to the American people. But we are not going to continue with business as usual while we wait for Congress to act.

We have the tools and the technologies to move forward today, and we are using them. Along with the California Waiver and the clean car program, we have taken – in these first few months – two other historic actions in the fight against climate change. In just a moment, I will share with you another.

The first of those two was one of our earliest actions on the job: fulfilling the mandate of the 2007 Supreme Court decision by proposing a formal Endangerment Finding for greenhouse gas emissions. That Supreme Court decision was perhaps the most important decision ever handed down in the annals of environmental law. EPA was prompted to determine if greenhouse gases pose a threat to the health of Americans, and – if so – to regulate them under the Clean Air Act. The court sent a crystal clear message: there are no more excuses for delay. Unfortunately, that watershed moment was met with more diversion and inaction. But this administration refused to ignore science and the law. We quickly set to work and proposed the finding as directed by the court. We have received more than 400,000 responses in the 60-day public comment period. And we soon expect a final document that will lay the foundation for reducing greenhouse emissions and confronting climate change.

Our second historic action came last week when we announced that – for the first time ever – the nation’s largest sources of greenhouse gases will be required to report their emissions. That new rule will allow us – and you – to track approximately 85 percent of total US emissions while only requiring a small percentage of facilities – about 10,000 out of tens of millions of American businesses – to report. We will now know with greater accuracy how much carbon is polluting our atmosphere and where energy efficiency investments and new technologies may be particularly effective at reducing greenhouse gases.

Today, I’m proud to announce the next major advance in this effort: today I signed a proposed rule to use the power and authority of the Clean Air Act to begin reducing emissions from the nation’s largest greenhouse gas emitting facilities. Under this new rule, large facilities would be required to adopt the best, most efficient technologies available when they are constructed or upgraded, helping us significantly reduce greenhouse gases from sectors that account for nearly 70 percent of non-vehicle emissions.


This is a common-sense measure, strategically tailored to facilities emitting more than 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year. And the results won’t just be emissions cuts. It will also promote emerging innovations and accelerate the use of efficient, clean technologies across the entire economy. In short, it allows us to do what the Clean Air Act does best – reduce emissions for better health, drive technology innovation for a better economy, and protect the environment for a better future – all without placing an undue burden on the businesses that make up the better part of our economy.

This is change. It’s not easy. And we can’t expect it to get easy in the months and years ahead. Defenders of the status quo are going to oppose this with everything they have. Very soon, we will hear about doomsday scenarios – with EPA regulating everything from cows to the local Dunkin’ Donuts. But let’s be clear: that is not going to happen. We have carefully targeted our efforts to exempt the vast majority of small and medium-sized businesses. We know the corner coffee shop is no place to look for meaningful carbon reductions.

In the coming months, we will continue working together with regions, states and localities, as well as Congress, to put climate solutions into action. We will explore cost-effective ways to expand the reach of energy efficiency and innovation to key sectors of the economy, where opportunities are very real. In addition to the national fuel economy proposals for light-duty vehicles, we see the potential for significant emissions cuts in other transportation sectors, which together account for about 28 percent of the nation’s emissions. We are also exploring moving forward with New Source Performance Standards so that power plants, refineries, cement manufacturing and other stationary sources are using energy efficient motors and heaters – helping to spark new innovations and new ways of doing business that will ensure our economic and environmental sustainability for generations to come.

Let me close on that last point: generations to come. Our chief responsibility in all of this is to leave our planet a better place. Whatever our political beliefs are, wherever we come from, and whatever strategy we think is best, a concern for our future generations is – ultimately – what brings us all here.

With me today is young woman named Otana Jakpor. Many of you may already know of her from the well-deserved attention she gained for her leadership and commitment to protecting our health and our environment. Otana is a 15 year old a senior at Woodcrest Christian High School in Riverside. When she was 13, she began coming to public hearings and offering not only her impassioned views, but hard data on environmental threats. Her extraordinary work helped move California to pass a law on ozone pollution from air purifiers. Today, she is still at it, hoping for cleaner air to help her mother in her chronic struggles with asthma. In the process, Otana is working on behalf of us all. At this young age, she has stepped up to do her part. Now it’s time for us to go to work for her.

Otana and her generation should be able to look back and see this moment as the turning point in our history, when we began, in earnest, the stop climate change. That is why I’m here today. It’s why President Obama has initiated American leadership on climate change. And it’s why I’m glad to be here – with all of you – to offer my hand in partnership, and to say that the journey towards real carbon reductions, towards clean energy, cleaner air and a better future, is underway. Thank you very much.