Speeches By EPA Administrator
Administrator Johnson, Renewable Energy Conference, St. Louis, MO10/12/2006
It’s a pleasure to be here in St. Louis to speak at the Advancing Renewable Energy Conference. The last time I was on this stage, I was participating in the White House Conference on Cooperative Conservation. During that first-ever meeting last summer, more than 1300 state and local leaders came together to exchange ideas on how we can work with one another to better enhance, restore, and protect our precious natural resources.
I see this conference as a continuation of the Bush Administration’s efforts to bring diverse stakeholders together to seek shared solutions to our shared challenges. Under the President’s leadership, all departments and agencies in the federal government are focused on working more efficiently and effectively with each other, and with our state, local, and private partners. I want to thank Secretary Johanns and Secretary Bodman for inviting me to speak with you today as we work together to encourage investments in the technology that is powering our nation’s economy and driving our environmental successes.
When President Bush asked me to serve as the 11th EPA Administrator, he said, “Steve, I want you to accelerate the pace of environmental protection, while maintaining our nation’s economic competitiveness.” Well, I’m pleased to report to him, and to all of you, that we are successfully executing the President’s charge.
Since 1970, total emissions of the six major air pollutants have been cut in half. This clean air success story has occurred even while our nation’s gross domestic product nearly tippled, energy consumption jumped 50 percent, and the U.S. population grew by 40 percent.
In America, we are seeing that by working together, we can have a healthy environment and a healthy economy. And these successes have continued under the Bush Administration. Since 2001, even while our country’s gross domestic product increased by 11 percent, airborne pollutants dropped by nine percent – including a 50 percent decrease in NOx – the emissions that contribute to ground-level ozone and soot.
Of course, as the economy continues to grow, so does our energy needs – and that’s presented a challenge. As the President has declared, the United States has developed a dependency – an addiction – to petroleum … and a lot of that petroleum comes from unreliable sources.
The answer to reducing our dependence on foreign oil, is to develop alternate, domestic sources of energy, and to encourage consumers to make smart energy decisions. That’s what this conference is all about. I’m proud EPA is playing a role in meeting the President’s charge to develop a clean, secure energy future – and I’m even more proud we are meeting this challenge through advances in technology.
For example, through technology we are unlocking the potential inside of an ear of corn or a soybean, and releasing enough power to fuel a car … or an 18-wheeler. It’s truly the stuff of science fiction.
As a lifelong scientist, I’m one of those guys who still marvels at the latest, most-powerful microscope. And when I say I’m a lifelong scientist – I’m not kidding. My father was recently if, as a child, I had shown any signs of my future career. He told them that my first “pets” were about 40 guinea pigs that I bred to discover the color variations in their hair patterns. Needless to say, my mom and dad were very patient parents to put up with my guinea pig laboratory … but they were also very supportive of my love of science.
And as a scientist, I’m a true believer in the potential for technology to improve the well-being of our country. I walked through the doors of EPA for the first time over 25 years ago … and while it seems like just yesterday to me, much has changed over that time. As I look across this crowd and see a lot of gray hairs like my own – and in some cases very little hair – I assume you too, can appreciate how times have changed. When I began at EPA, we used typewriters … and blackberries were just something you ate. Today, we have powerful computers and hand-held equipment that gives us real-time information almost everywhere we go.
25 years ago, I jogged in my neighborhood listening to cassette tapes on a bulky walkman. Today, even the President owns an I-Pod that weighs just a few ounces and holds 10-thousand songs. My wife told me that if I bought an I-Pod, I would have to start jogging again – so I told her, with that requirement, perhaps the I-Pod was one innovation I wasn’t quite ready to embrace.
But technology has not just changed the way Americans work and play, it has created new possibilities for what we can do in protecting our nation’s health and environment.
When I started at EPA, I worked in a lab where much of our scientific measurements were based on parts per million. Today we measure in nanograms – which is one-billionth of a gram. 25 years ago, many of the pollutants EPA set out to control could be seen with the naked eye. Today we have a nationwide system for monitoring pollutants that are 30 times smaller than a single strand of human hair.
Everyday, EPA’s investment in technology is helping us discover more about our environment … learn more about the effects of pollutants on human health … and, most importantly, do more to protect the well-being of our nation.
In his State of the Union Address, the President announced his Advanced Energy Initiative … a national goal of replacing more than 75-percent of our oil imports by the year 2025. So today, I couldn’t be happier to be here speaking with the very people who are working to help our nation jump off the treadmill of dependency.
Our country is on the verge of a dramatic change for how we power our cars, our homes and our businesses … and innovation is the catalyst of this change.
President Bush and EPA are encouraging advances in the technology that power our nation’s economy and drive our environmental successes.
By investing today in clean coal technologies, revolutionary power-sources, and renewable alternatives to gasoline and diesel fuels, 25 years from now we can make foreign sources of oil go the way of the typewriter and the walkman.
Since 2001, under President Bush’s leadership, our nation has funded nearly $10 billion in developing energy sources that are cleaner, cheaper and more reliable. Over the past four years, the Bush Administration has worked to increase domestic energy supplies, encourage efficiency and conservation, and develop alternative and renewable sources of energy.
In August of last year, President Bush signed the Energy Policy Act. Prior to that, more than a decade had passed since we had a national energy plan … and with each passing year we have become more dependent on foreign sources of oil.
Over the past 25 years, the cumulative cost of imported crude oil has reached $1.4 trillion … money that could have provided funds for investments and jobs right here in America.
I’m sure that most of you are familiar with the renewable fuel standard provision – or RFS – in the President’s Energy Bill. Well, last month, I announced the nation’s first comprehensive RFS plan, which guarantees that the use of renewable fuels produced from crops throughout America will double in just over five years.
Just think about that. Five years ago, I doubt too many people looked at a soybean or an ear of corn and saw its potential for powering their car. But by the year 2012, 7.5 billion gallons of fuel being pumped into gas-tanks across the country will be made from homegrown, renewable resources.
For years, our nation's rolling farm fields have filled America's breadbaskets. Now, by helping meet President Bush's renewable energy goals, these same fields are filling America's gas tanks.
And as we are doing what’s good for our nation’s energy security, we’re also doing what’s good for our farming communities. Doubling the amount of renewable fuels produced from American crops means a lot more soybeans, sunflower seeds and corn, as well as other material like cellolosic biomass and restaurant grease, will be turned into fuel.
Even beyond strengthening our energy and economic security, expanding the use of renewable fuels has an additional benefit that is near-and-dear to my heart – it’s good for our environment.
Renewable fuels are the next step in our steady march toward cleaner, healthier air. Nationwide, our air is cleaner than it was three decades ago. By reducing the amount of foreign fuel we import through increasing the use of renewable fuels, we will prevent release of greenhouse gas emissions equivalent of up to 14 million tons of carbon dioxide. What does that mean? It’s like preventing the greenhouse gas emissions from nearly 6.5 million cars … or more than double all the registered cars here in the state of Missouri.
Under President Bush’s leadership, EPA is addressing our nation’s growing energy demand in a way that supports our goals for a clean environment and a healthy economy. But we can’t do it on our own, so I want to thank all of our partners here who have helped bring the many benefits of the RFS program to our residents.
From filling America’s breadbaskets to filling America’s gas-tanks, together we are producing solutions that are good for agriculture, good for our environment, and good for the American people.
And while the Energy Policy Act may have mandated the renewable rule standard, EPA is also proud to be helping our partners find the soybeans and ears of corn of tomorrow. By working in collaboration, not confrontation, we are encouraging voluntary renewable energy programs that are powering our nation’s economy and driving our environmental successes. These programs collaborate with our partners in industry to reduce their environmental footprints in cost-effective ways.
Take for example EPA’s Green Power Partnership. Through this voluntary program, EPA and our environmental partners are meeting President Bush's call to green our nation's energy.
As you know, green power offers a cleaner, renewable source of electricity generation that has little or no impact on the environment. Currently, over 600 organizations voluntarily participate in the Partnership, and are purchasing more than 6 billion kilowatt hours of green power annually. This is the equivalent amount of electricity needed to power more than 450,000 average American homes each year.
By conserving resources and investing in clean, renewable power, these leading companies are proving that doing what is good for the environment can also be good for business.
Another example is our Combined Heat and Power, or C-H-P program. This voluntary program promotes an efficient, clean, and reliable approach to generating power and thermal energy from a single fuel source.
Through CHP, EPA has partnered with over 190 organizations — including energy users, project developers, equipment suppliers, and federal, state, and local policy makers. Since 2001, our partners have installed nearly 3500 megawatts of new, highly efficient CHP capacity. While doing what’s good for their bottom lines, these partners have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of planting 2.5 million acres of trees.
I’d like to highlight one more renewable energy program that is changing the way we use and think about energy. Through EPA’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program we are working with businesses, energy providers, and communities to promote cost effective and environmentally beneficial uses for landfill gas.
By capturing the power of landfill gasses, we are building on two of President Bush's national goals: reducing domestic greenhouse gas production and developing alternative and renewable sources of energy. Over the past decade, our partners have taken methane waste and turned it into wealth. At the same time they have reduced the greenhouse gas emissions from 300 landfills by about 27 million metric tons.
Another new innovative application for landfill gas is an alternative fuel for vehicles. If you were amazed at soybeans powering 18-wheelers – get ready for your car to be driven on landfill gasses. With four operational projects across the country, we are using this renewable energy source to cut oil consumption by over 890,000 barrels of oil each year.
But we are not just investing in renewable fuel innovation. Through our voluntary partnerships, EPA is bringing the transportation technology of tomorrow, well within our grasp today.
This past summer, I joined UPS to unveil the world’s most fuel-efficient and cost-effective delivery truck. Utilizing EPA-patented hydraulic hybrid powertrain technology, the truck is powered through stored braking energy. As compared to a conventional vehicle, the UPS truck saves 60-70 percent more fuel, produces 40 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and recoups its cost in just three years. So, instead of just delivering packages, through EPA’s investment in energy innovation, that truck is also delivering environmental and economic results.
These are exciting times for America. The President has set big goals for our nation’s energy security, economic well-being and environmental health … and I am confident that we can meet those goals, in part through the innovative spirit of the people in this very room.
When I speak to the employees at EPA, one of the things I always stress is that our goal is not only to protect the environment for today’s citizens – our goal is to protect our nation’s environment for future generations of Americans – our grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
The innovators of renewable energy have had that same long-term mindset. For example, America has always loved its cars … and changing the way we power them is going to take some time. But we already see that times are changing. Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to visit the Detroit auto show. I noted with interest several exhibits for “luxury hybrid” cars. Five years ago, I don’t think too many people would have equated fuel efficiency with luxury.
And it not just cars and trucks. Our country is on the verge of dramatic changes for how we power our homes and our businesses.
Last week, EPA kicked off ENERGY STAR’s Change a Light Day. By encouraging Americans to make smart energy decisions, President Bush and EPA are brightening America’s future – literally – one light at a time.
Consumers now have a choice between installing traditional lighting, or using ENERGY STAR-qualified lights that protect our environment, promote greater economic security, and leave more money in our pockets. The Change a Light campaign is about getting these lights off the store shelves and into people’s homes.
Consider this – if every American household made the commitment to change just one traditional light to an ENERGY STAR qualified bulb, we would provide enough power to light more than 2.5 million homes for a year, save more than $500 million in energy costs – and prevent the greenhouse gas emission equivalent to nearly 800,000 cars.
And that’s just by changing one light bulb in each household. Imaging the benefits of everyone changing a major appliance to an ENERGY STAR refrigerator, washing machine or dryer.
But none of these incredible environmental, economic and energy successes will happen without the help of our partners – the leaders of innovation – many of whom are here in the room. It is through your pioneering spirit that we are discovering the ears of corn and the soybeans of tomorrow.
EPA appreciates your contributions to the health and prosperity to our nation – and I know the President appreciates your work in advancing the technology to power our nation’s economy and drive our environmental successes.
Once again, I would like to thank you for inviting me to speak with you today. I wish you luck on the remainder of this conference, and for a successful and renewable future.