All-Hands Town Hall - 2011

Uploaded by USInterior on 28.01.2011

Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Julie Chavez Rodriguez and I have
the distinct pleasure of working with many of you here
in the room and around the country to engage and
employ young people on our public lands.
As the director of the Secretary Salazar's Youth Initiative,
I cannot think of a better place to be. And I cannot think of a better leader for
this department and Secretary Ken Salazar.
My grandparents and parents have taught me that
America has always been a work in progress. An idea that generation after generation has
worked to perfect. Just think for a minute how far we have come
as a nation. The fact that a child can grow up by a ranch
in Colorado's San Luis Valley with no electricity,
graduate from law school in order to fight to get their house on the
grid, eventually becoming Secretary of the Interior, is a true testament
to our journey as a country.
Secretary Salazar's story is our story. For these reasons we choose to work for Secretary
Salazar and to serve this great Department of the Interior,
united in acommon mission to continue the march of
progress in America that started hundreds of years
before any of us. In my short two years with the Department,
I have come to admire him and I would like to share with
you briefly why. Secretary Salazar is results-driven.
I am sure that every time that Secretary Salazar sees you or leaders from
your bureau or office, he inquires about the progress and updates
your team has made from reaching its goals. In my case I often hear -- Wow Julie it is
great to see you. But how many youth have we employed this year?
Secretary Salazar genuinely cares about each and every one of the 70,000 employees here
at the Department of the Interior. He makes a point to host employee meetings
and town halls wherever he is travelling throughout the country
so that he can personally meet as many of you all as possible.
He leads by example and works harder than anyone I have ever met,
regularly putting in 12-16 hour days to get the job done.
His passion for empowering native communities, standing up for
renewable energy projects, and engaging youth is absolutely infectious.
As a result, he has put the Department of the Interior on the map,
so that I no longer get questions like, "The Department of what?"
He makes sure that everyone knows about the great work that each
of you are doing as advocates for DOI at the highest
level of government. He is one of the most selfless people I have
ever met. His dedication is not based on gaining personal
praise and recognition, but is rooted in the future of our
department and the betterment of our country. Ladies and gentlemen, it is my distinct honor
to present to you the 50th Secretary of the US Department of the Interior,
Secretary Ken Salazar. [APPLAUSE]
Thank you all very much. Thank you, Julie.
So I am going to take this occasion and ask some of you
to fill in to the front. Art, Gary, since you are with me until about
midnight, everybody come on up
I know that this is like a church gathering and
everyone wants to be in the back, I want you up here in the front.
But I want those whole last 10 rows to move up
so that I can see you, cause you are too far away, you are too far away.
I want you in the front row. Solicitor Tompkins?
I want you up here. We need our lawyers close to us in the Interior.
Andrew, you are too far back. I want you to sit behind Steve Black.
Those folks who are out in the hallway, I want you to come in too.
It's great to be Secretary of Interior; you have some authority.
Let me recognize a few people. David Hays, Deputy Secretary of the Interior.
Give him a round of applause; he's done a lot in the last few years.
[APPLAUSE] and your soon-to-be Chief of Staff, Laura
Davis. Stand up, Laura.
[APPLAUSE] and Matt Lee-Ashley, new Deputy Chief of Staff,
give him a round of applause. [APPLAUSE]
So many wonderful people. I spend all day, actually, reflecting on not
only political appointees, but also our career people.
People like Frank Quimby, who I see in the back there.
When you look at Frank Quimby, you ask Frank Quimby, "How long have
you been with the Department?" and more than two or three decades.
He looks like he is about 50, but he is a little older than that.
He does a great job. Frank Quimby, please stand and
let's give you a round of applause. [APPLAUSE]
Tom Strickland, our Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks
and has served as Chief of Staff, he has done a great job for the Department.
He is actually in California meeting with our Fish and Wildlife
employees there today and when he comes back we will celebrate his great contribution to
the Department. I want to thank you all for coming here today.
I want to thank all of you joining us by satellite, those of you watching this on the Web,
those of you on the phone this afternoon. Julie, thank you for your introduction.
I think that you overstated me, but I do not want to understate you.
You truly are a superstar. when you think about what a superstar is made
it is really about results. We started working on our Youth Initiative
a couple of years ago. Some people call that a crazy idea that cannot
be done. Let me just say that her efforts to make
the employment and education of our youth a top priority,
I am pleased to announce that in the fiscal year 2010,
which just ended, the Department of the Interior employed 21,000,
let's be exact, 21,874 youth, an increase of 45% over the
previous year. [APPLAUSE]
I was at the White House with most of the Cabinet and the President just a few days
ago, where the President spoke about our efforts as an
administration to strengthen military families and their
lives when they come back home from war and even when they are at war, how we are
working with their families, and the Department of the Interior was singled
out by the President for great praise.
The great praise for the National Park Service and our agencies
who are so involved in the helping of the rehabilitation of our wounded warriors
when they come back here to the United States. They made a point to speak about how we in
the department have taken a leadership role to provide work opportunities
and job opportunities for the young men and women
that are coming back to this country after having served our country.
And so, when we think about 21,874 younger people who are working with us
here in the department, it truly it is something which has been noticed in which we are
leading the government on and I am proud to be
the Secretary of the Interior working with Julie in making that happen.
So let's give Julie another round of applause. [APPLAUSE]
Last night, President Obama delivered his State of the Union address.
For those of you watched, you probably may have noticed that I wasn't there,
not because I have plans of leaving because I don't.
I guarantee that I have every intention to be your
Secretary for the Obama Administration. But I was off with Laura Davis in an undisclosed
location, and though it was a late night, it was great
to watch the President in his speech and have a hand in crafting
a part of that speech. The President's speech provided a road map
about what America needs to do to win the future.
He spoke about the need to create jobs today, what we need to do to be competitive tomorrow,
what we must do to win for the future for our children and for our country.
When I listened to the President with Laura at that undisclosed location,
I thought about all the things that we at the Department
of the Interior are doing to implement that agenda
to help our nation harness our potential. I thought about our renewable energy agenda
is creating jobs and driving innovation, very much a
keystone to the clean energy agenda. We are, indeed, in my view a driving force
behind the nation's clean energy agenda and making
believers out of those skeptics that said that it cannot
be done. We believe in this Department that it can
be done and we will get it done. I thought about the remarkable progress the
Department has made towards making sure that oil and gas is developed
safely and responsibly not only in our labs, but in our nation's
oceans, so that we can meet the nation's energy needs.
I thought as I listened to the speech about all we are doing
as a group of employees of the people of the United States
to protect the lands and the wildlife and the history and the culture
that define us as a people and that fuels our spirit as Americans.
I thought about our nation's first Americans and what
we were doing to empower tribes to pursue a future of their choosing so that they too
can achieve their full, God-given potential. I thought about our scientists and engineers
in each of our agencies, our water experts and all the people in our
Department whose daily work helps our economy grow, businesses flourish, and
our nation prosper. The truth is, the strength of our economy,
our spirit, and our union are all tied to what we do here at the Department
of the Interior That is why I am proud to serve as your secretary
and why I am proud to serve in the President's administration.
It also is why many of you, you who are here, you who are watching,
from Alaska to the Everglades to Acadia, it is why you chose to
serve the public in this proud positions in this Department.
Now, this past year the Department of the Interior has not been an easy year.
It has been a full year full of challenges and full of complex undertakings,
but we have survived and are doing very well. We started out the year with great ambitions
-- the stand up renewable energy on our public lands and oceans and to build
a conservationist ethic for the 21st century.
We move forward with an ambition to strengthen the relationship
with Indian country and infuse science into the decision making process.
And while we kept a laser focus on these goals and we have a great record of achievement
that we can show for our collective work, we also responded with a
herculean effort after the tragedy of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that killed
11 men and spilled millions of barrels of oil into the
Gulf of Mexico. From the beginning this Department has served
in a leadership role, an integral role, in responding to the disaster.
Biologists from the Fish and Wildlife Service established
wildlife recovery centers, to save our oiled pelicans and to incubate sea turtle eggs
until they could be safely returned to the wild.
Scientists from various shops in the USGS developed innovative technologies and methods
to estimate the spill's flow rate. They lent their scientific expertise and engineering
expertise to the well control mission to kill the well.
The National Park Rangers, under the leadership of Tom Strickland
and Jon Jarvis and Dan Wenk and Dan Kimball and so many others, donned their gloves and
shovels to clean the oiled beaches at the Gulf Islands
National Seashore. I walked those seashores often with the MMS,
now the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and their employees worked overtime.
I watched their work to help to kill the well and
to move forward to make offshore oil and gas development safer in the future.
Employees from every corner and region in the Department
uprooted their lives, often leaving behind families
to deploy to the Gulf to respond to the disaster. We might hear about people like Lori Faith,
who spent 120 days nonstop in the gulf. Like Ralph Morganwick, a longtime, three decade-plus
employee of the Fish and Wildlife Service, who also spent his time in the Gulf making
sure that we had the right presence there at Interior
to protect the people and to protect the environment in the Gulf.
Now, our work in the Gulf today is by no means over.
There is much more to be done to restore the Gulf and to rebuild the region.
I am confident that with people like Cindy Dohner,
from the Fish and Wildlife Service, who is helping lead the charge,
and with Hillary Tompkins' star team in the Solicitor's Office,
that we will be successful. We will not only achieve a safer oil and gas
production in the Gulf of Mexico, but we will also achieve meaningful and ecological
restoration of the Gulf Coast, an ecological area that
has frankly been degraded for more than a century by the
hand of man. We have a unique opportunity to move forward
and do a restoration on the Gulf Coast that can become
a template of restoration all around the world. Right now it is appropriate and necessary
to thank all of you, who contributed in ways large and small
to responding to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Your hard work and dedication in the face of the largest oil spill
in our nation's history is nothing short of heroic.
I thank you on behalf of a grateful nation. I would ask all of us to give everybody who
put their shoulder behind the effort to deal with the events that started
on April the 20th this year to give a round of applause for their efforts
on behalf of this country. [APPLAUSE]
As I look back over the past year, I am proud of the fact that,
in spite of the deepwater horizon and all the time
and resources that the Department devoted to it,
the many times that Christopher Mansour and his team
had to get me ready to go and testify I believe 14 or 15 times before committees
of the Congress and others, but notwithstanding all that we did there,
we were still able to accomplish the ambitious agenda we set originially set
out to do. In fact we even did more than we had thought
we could do. On the conservation front, we welcomed the
new National Wildlife Refuges into the family
and proposed others. The Flint Hills Legacy Conservation Area dedicated
in Kansas a few months ago, works with the ranchers of that area to protect
more than 1 million acres of the last remaining
tall grass praries of the United States of America.
We were able to get that done. In Colorado, the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National
Wildlife Refuge, a 27 square mile area which will become
one of the greatest urban wildlife refuges of our time,
formally joined the Department of the Interior. A place that once served as a manufacturing
site for weapons and toxic chemicals is now home
to bald eagles and roaming buffalo, surrounded by 3 million people who will frankly
take advantage of this gateway to conservation that we have collectively created here in
this Department. Earlier this month I announced a proposal
in Florida for a new wildlife refuge and conservation
area in Florida at the headwaters to the Everglades.
Like Flint Hills, this area would work with local ranchers to preserve the heritage
and way of life for generations to come. The Everglades restoration effort,
which the Department has undertaken and we have put on steroids over the last
two years, really has become the template for ecosystem
restoration around the world. As the world watches, we are moving forward
with a result-driven agenda, which is restoring the river of grass, and
restoring the World Heritage site that the Everglades exemplifies for the entire
world. I want to thank Sam Hamilton and his legacy
at the Everglades, along with his leadership Tom Strickland has
shown as the Chairperson of the Everglades Task
Force, and Don Jodrey and so many others.
All of these refuges marked a new era of conservation for the Department.
There is a lot more to come in the year ahead. But this new era of conservation in the Department
is one that is community-driven, it is science-based, It takes into account entire ecosystems and
working landscapes. In 2010, we also, through everyone in this
department, many people involved in the regions and the states and
everyone here in Washington, D.C., carried the torch for President Obama's Great
Outdoors Initiative that he announced right here on April 16 of
2009. Along with our Federal partners, the Department
held 51 public sessions across the country and heard from thousands and thousands of
Americans, over 100,000 of them. We listened to them about how we could promote
and support innovative community level conservation efforts
and how we can reconnect Americans, especially our young people in the way that
Julie and her team have done, to the outdoors. Soon we will be delivering a report to the
President that lays out a vision of an enduring conservation
agenda for the 21st century. At the end of last year, BLM Director Bob
Abbey, and I announced a new wildlands policy that restores balance
and clarity to the management of our public lands.
The much-needed policy will ensure that the lands of the American people, the
lands of the American public, which belong to you and me and every one of
these 300 million Americans, the places where we hunt and fish and find
solitude, are protected wisely for gererations to come.
On the energy front, the Department led and is helping lead
President Obama's charge to help build a clean energy economy.
In 2010 we started to show the world how we could unlock our nation's renewable
energy potential in unprecedented ways. With people like Bob Abbey and Wilma Lewis
and Steve Black and Janea Scott and Neal Kemkar and David
Hayes,and so many other people, we approved over a dozen
solar, wind and geothermal transmission projects, including
nine solar energy projects in the deserts of Nevada and
California. Combined, these projects will produce nearly
3700 megawatts of energy, or enough power to electrify 100 million homes.
These projects will create over 7300 jobs. These are the first ever large-scale,
solar energy projects ever approved on public lands
They will include the largest solar energy project in the entire world.
[APPLAUSE] We approved the Cape Wind energy project,
the nation's first offshore energy project. After the project had languished in red tape
for a very long time, we launched an offshore wind initiative to
spur smart strategic development in our nation's oceans,and
are moving forward with a swat team to make sure
that we do it smart from the start with David Hayes and Michael
Bromwich and others in a leadership position on this
effort. I am confident that we will see offshore energy
becoming a reality along the Atlantic and other places
around our coasts in America. We also continued the most aggressive and
comprehensive reform of offshore oil and gas regulations in US
history. We are raising the bar for safety, oversight
and environmental protection at every stage of the development process.
We are establishing an offshore energy safety program and committee
to institutionalize the lessons we have learned from the Deepwater Horizon
and bridge the information and technology gap that exist
between industry, acadamia, and government. Internally, we have taken a hard look from
the very top to the very bottom at our own operations,
to see where we need to change the way we do business.
Under the leadership of Michael Bromwich and Chris Henderson and Rhea Suh,
we have undertaken a massive overhaul of the agency
that regulates off-shore energy production. We are deconflicting the missions of the former
MMS by establishing three independent agencies
to carry out the three separate missions. Those missions are --
One, we promote resource development of our off-shore energy resources, that's one mission.
A Second mission is to make sure that we are enforcing the safety regulations on those
operations. A Third mission is to maximize the revenue
where we average 13 billion dollars of revenue
from the American people's assets to the American Treasury.
Those are three missions that we have deconflicted within the organization that we have undertaken.
This new framework will provide the right checks and balances as we evaluate
the proposed oil and gas projects in the future, the structure will ensure
that robust environmental analysis and safety considerations are given
appropriate weight throughout the permitting and drilling process.
I know that this past year has been especially challenging for the employees
of the former MMS, now the Bureau of Ocean Management Energy and Enforcement.
I would like to thank those employees for their hard work, patience, and constuctive
solutions as we undergo this transition and work to
make the United States the gold standard in offshore energy production.
[APPLAUSE] Just yesterday, Chris Anderson and David Hayes
and I met with Greg Gould and Debbie Shute, who
I believe are watching this presentation in Lakewood.
We went through a history of what we have done
over the last two years to stand up the Office of Natural Resources in Lakewood, Colorado.
It is nothing short of phenomenal what those employees accomplished.
They feel good about what they are doing on behalf of the American taxpayer.
It is a much improved organization over what it was two years ago.
They recognize that they have much more work to do.
Greg and Debbie are not political appointees. They weren't people that I brought on my team
They are people that have been working there and know what they are doing.
And so as we have reorganized that part of the Department of the Interior,
it's also important for us to always remember that the people that make this Department
really run are the career employees of the United States Department of the Interior.
Give them a round of applause for what they do.
[APPLAUSE] All of you know, from the multiple visits
that President Barack Obama has made to the stage to speak about the agenda
of the United States with respect to First Americans, that we have
been ushering in a new chapter in the relationship between the United States
and the Indian tribes of this country. As we have implemented that agenda in Indian
Country, this department made great strides over the
past year. You in this Department know better than most
what the Cobell Litigation did to the Interior.
The results of the great leadership of my senior team here in the Department,
working hand in hand David Hayes and Hillary Tompkins with the Department of Justice,
we were able to finally bring the Cobell Settlement to a close.
The Cobell Settlement which honorably and responsibly addresses the injustices
regarding the US Government's trust mismanagement. Closing that chapter will allow us to move
forward with a proactive relationship for the nation's
First Americans. So thank you, all of you, who worked on that
particular effort. [APPLAUSE]
As difficult and as much time as the Cobell litigation took
for us to resolve in the last year, it is only a small part of the work we have
done together to advance the agenda with respect to the
nation's First Americans. The result of work from many people at the
Solicitor's Office by Letty Belin, who have spent so much time working on these
issues and Michael Connor is probably the best person
at getting these things done that has ever lived in the United States of
America. [APPLAUSE]
The President of the United States signed into law
four Indian water rights settlements that will total
more than $1 billion, which is already set aside for these projects, and
those projects will help to deliver clean drinking water
to Indian communities, and they will provide certainty
to water users across the west. Let me make a point about what that means.
First, when you look at some of the reservation areas where I have visited,
where many of you have visited, there are places where 70% or 80% of people
who live in those reservations have never had potable running water.
Whereas in the testimony regarding the Navajo water pipeline.
there were pictures of the water trucks that would go out
to the places where the Navajo people lived, and
delivered water which would be taken in five-gallon cans into those homes
to be able to provide domestic water supply.
Tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of Native Americans
will have for the first time what most of us take for granted, which is good,
clean potable water in their homes. That is a great justice for those whose time
has come to recognize those water rights and t
o be able to make those projects a reality. That's what those four Indian water projects
were all about -- the moral imperative fulfilled. Give that team a round of applause for having
done that. [APPLAUSE]
Now, when we talk about Indian water rights, there is also the other side of the equation.
As Ann Castle and others would quickly point out, and that is
that what happens with Indian water rights is also you create
a cloud over what the other water users who have also grown
to have economic certainty, the dependence on the exercise
and use of water from those rivers And so by resolving those Indian water rights'
claims, what we also did for non-Indian water users
is provide certainty regarding future water supply.
It was a great achievement in that arena. We are also proud of the work that so many
of you did with Assistant Secretary Larry EchoHawk and his
entire team to put together the second White House Tribal Nations Conference,
and together renewed our pledge to carry out our agenda of
reconciliation and empowerment for Indian Nations.
Let me make a comment here, as well, on our group of people
working within the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs.
For a long time before 2008, there were parts of that branch of the Department
which simply could not do its job because we did not have people in those positions.
We would go, or did go, for a period of time over three to four years
where we did not have an Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs.
One of the great achievements really that we have done in the last several years
is that all of those positions are filled. We have no vacancies in the National Indian
Gaming Commission. We have an Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs,
Larry EchoHawk, who has served longer than anybody in that
position in the previous 50 years, I am told. We have a Bureau of Indian Education Affairs
Director. We are fortunate to have someone that has
joined that team who is Jody Gillette, who has worked in the White House and knows
First American issues backwards and forwards. Our work on First Americans is work that we
are very proud of we have done, but our work there has only just begun.
Thank you to all of you that worked on that agenda.
We have continued the drumbeat to restore science to its rightful place
in our decisionmaking process We are putting science to work for us with
the planned establishment of eight climate science centers around the
nation. In coordination with our landscape conservation
cooperatives, which Sam Hamilton envisioned,
we are laying a strong foundation for a coordinated strategy
to address the impacts of climate change on land, water, and wildlife resources.
Just a note on the issue of climate change and water.
For those of you who participated with Anne Castle and her team,
as we dealt with the set of Colorado River issues and the great dearth of water
that we currently had and have in the Colorado River Basin,
and the decline in the levels in Lake Mead, and putting together
the agreement with Mexico on a shared water arrangement for the Colorado River,
for those of you that have worked in the water arena,
when you think about a 20% decline of water availability
within the Colorado River Basin, which affects the
seven states of the Colorado River Basin, that is a huge problem for the United States.
But that is what our scientists are telling us on the Colorado River Basin.
It does not matter if you are a Democrat, a Republican,
whether you are a farmer who irrigates on the Colorado River,
or a Indian water rights' user or a municipal water rights user from the
Colorado River, you need to wake up, as those water users
of the Colorado River have, to the reality of climate change as something
that they need to respond to, that we need to get ready for those changes.
We are leading the way there through our efforts in this Department.
We are also leading the charge to foster a culture of scientific and scholarly integrity,
recognizing that science and scholarship play a
vital role in the Department's mission. We are the first agency in this administration
to develop a policy on scientific integrity. This policy, which we will be releasing
in a Departmental Manual in the coming days, establish ethical standards, including a code
of conduct that will apply to all Interior employees,
political appointees and career alike, so that the good science is never choked out
for the sake of expediency or politics. Today we should reflect on our accomplishments
as an Interior team in 2010. But we must also look forward.
That's why I am proud to announce today the release of our five-year strategic plan,
which Assistant Secretary Rhea Suh led to its completion.
By the way, give her a round of applause, because of her absence, she may be having
a baby today, tomorrow, or the next day. We wish her the very best.
[APPLAUSE] I can see Chris Henderson checking his e-mail
to see what is going on. This plan includes five specific priority
goals that will help to focus our efforts. And they are the following:
By the end of 2012, this Department will increase approved capacity
for production of renewable energy resources on public lands while ensuring full
environmental review to a least 10,000 megawatts. Is that true, Steve?
10,000 megawatts? That is a big goal.
By the end of 2012, for 50% of our nation, the Department
will identify resources that are particularly vulnerable to climate change
and coordinate an adaptation response action plan
for those changes. By the end of 2012, this department will increase
the available water supply for agriculture, municipal, industrial,
and environmental uses in the western United States by 490,000 acre
ft. through reclamation and conservation programs.
Now, some of you might think "490,000 acre ft., that is a lot."
Imagine 490,000 acres of land, each with 1 foot of water in depth.
So, that is what you're talking about saving through the
conservation initiatives of Mike Connor and the Bureau of Reclamation and that team.
In addition, by the end of 2012, and Julie has her work cut out for her,
but this is truly a complete departmental undertaking,
we will increase the employment of youth between the ages of 15 and 25 in the conservation
mission of the Department by more than 50%. Within 24 months the Department will achieve
a significant reduction of crime by at least
5% on targeted tribal reservations, where we
have led the way in the interagency effort to combat drugs
and violence on reservations throughout the country.
It's an ambitious plan, one that will challenge the performance targets,
and I hope that you will take time to review the plan
to better understand the mission, the priorities, and the vision for the future.
Now, as I look at the future and I look at each of you here today,
and I think of you watching us from faraway places,
you have given me reason to be optimistic about our future.
Building out the achievements of the past two years,
we know that we have the potential to do amazing things
If we can do amazing things in the face of crisis,
imagine what we can do if we are planning and thinking ahead in the way we are doing.
We will continue to usher in a new era of conservation, implementing the President's
Great Outdoors Initiative by creating great urban parks
for the people of the United States, protecting rural and working landscapes across
our country, and enhancing and restoring the blue waves
and rivers of America. We will continue to build a safe and secure
energy future by rapidly and responsibly standing up renewable
energy in our public lands.
This will take planning that is smart from the start.
With thoughtful citing and development and strong local
and federal tribal partnerships, with American workers and American ingenuity,
these projects will make believers out of skeptics.
We will continue to raise the bar on offshore energy production
so that safety and science permeate every decision,
and so the United States serves as a gold standard
for profitable oil and gas development. We will continue to work with Native Americans
to develop stronger economies and safer communities.
We will implement a tribal consultation policy that will provide a framework
for open and transparent nation to nation dialogue.
We will continue to tackle the most pressing challenges of our day,
from climate change to water shortages to endangered species,
armed with the best science available for us
so we can make the best decisions. At Interior, we often talk about the importance
of passing on a better world for our children
and grandchildren. We get it here because we understand the connection
our planet and our Earth. I often find myself thinking about the world
which our children and grandchildren will grow up
in. The life that they will lead and how our decisions
here at the Department will affect their tomorrow.
I wonder if they will get to see the massive glaciers of Glacier National Park
or feel the warm sand of the Florida Keys under their feet,
or see the great swoop of the bald eagle or the whopping Crane.
I know that I cannot guarantee this for the next generation.
Nor can you. But I know that the President and I and all
of you here will fight with every ounce of energy you
have to fulfill that dream. I know that from the work that to do on a
daily basis that you share my determination, and the President's determination, to win
the future, to win the future for our children
and grandchildren, for our planet. Together I believe that we can and we will
win that future. I thank you all, and I thank you for your
great service in the United States. God bless America and God bless the Department
of the Interior. Thank you.
[APPLAUSE] Thank you very much.
I am told that I have a few minutes for some questions.
So does anybody have any questions? I am told that there are microphones out there,
a couple microphones. Raise your hands.
So I do not see any hands, so I'm going to call on somebody.
Bob Abbey? Marcilynn Burke, sitting next to Bob Abbey
Marcilynn, I want you to give me a comment or question.
Can you take a microphone back here? Right here on the left?
Marcilynn was a professor at the University of Houston.
I heard that you are a tenured professor, and
I heard her say in a metting that we had about two months ago,
that the best decision she had ever made was to come and work here at the Department
of the Interior. So, Marcilynn Burke, what do you have to say?
[LAUGHTER] What do I have to say?
Well, Mr. Secretary, I have had the pleasure in the last two days of taking briefings
from Congressional staffers on our new wildlands policy.
Are you still alive? [LAUGHTER]
In the last two days I have talked to about 40 congressional staffers, and
Most thought that it would be a difficult occasions.
But they were not difficult because I have great confidence that we made a great decision.
This is something that the field needed, this is something that the country needed.
I wanted to let you know that we are standing tall, proud, and strong.
[APPLAUSE] Thank you, Marcilynn.
That's good to know because have meetings with three of
those U.S. Senators coming up in a few minutes. Maybe you should come with me.
[LAUGHTER] Yes, right over here.
Lucinda Pena? Mr. Secretary, I would like to hear more about
how the Department of the Interior is going to be connecting with all Americans,
with their National Parks and Public Lands, and really engaging all Americans and our
non-traditional users. That is a good question.
You have often heard me describe what the Department does
and my view, in the words of one of my American heroes,
and that's Senator Danny Inouye from Hawaii, Senator Inouye always says when he talks about
this Department that it is the best Department
in the United States Government, but he also says that it is the best Department
because we are the custodians of America's natural resources and heritage, but also the
custodians of America's history and the history of its people.
In that vein, we do a lot in this Department. We tell the story of immigration through the
great work that is under way right now at Liberty Island and Ellis Island
in New York. We tell the great work of Civil Rights, as
we will do with the 150th celebration this year of the Civil War and struggle for
Civil Rights in this country. We will do it with the Japanese internment
camps, so that we continue to tell that story.
I think that it is important, as I have done in the last several weeks with Director Jarvis
and others, is to make sure that we are telling the entire
story of America so that no one is left behind.
There are parts of the American story that have
not been told as well as they should have been.
One example is the example of Cesar Chavez and his great
work in the fields of the Southwest and in California
to bring justice to those who pick the crops from the fields
of our country that we end up eating on our kitchen tables.
There will be events like that we undertake this year.
In addition to that, the celebration of the Flight 93 Memorial,
which we hope to be able to get to a point of having completed that project.
That is another project that has long-stalled, until
Neil Mulholland and Dan Wenk and a number of other people
were involved in helping us work through some very tough
issues over the last several years. We will be in a position where we will be
able to cut the ribbon there for the heroes of Flight 93; that's a part
of telling America's story. For me, last night, when I was at that undisclosed
location, I thought about how fortunate we are as a
country to have the freedom that we are able to exercise here
in this country. I also thought about the threats that often
face this country. I thought about the airplane that went down
in the fields near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where
the passengers of Flight 93 probably kept that plane
from flying right into the center of our government, the United States Capitol,
and how we continue to tell that story so that people do not forget it.
That is an important function that the Department of the Interior plays.
We will continue to find ways of improving and celebrating
the story that makes us the America that we are.
Yes, Marsha? Yes, Mr. Secretary, I was intrigued by the
President's approach last night in his State of the Union Address to his
continuing promotion of alternative energy, and knowing the tenor of the new Republican
controlled House, instead of trying to sell it based on climate
change, he was instead promoting it based on technologies and economic competitiveness
and a better stance for the U.S. economy, which I think
are all good reasons to do it. It occurred to me that, perhaps by standing
up the new safety committee that you are putting together, another way
to look at this Safety Committee very broadly is also to look at gaps in safety
in various energy technologies. I think that a good case can be made that
solar panels rarely kill people or cause massive environmental
mayhem. Basically the safety committee could be looking
broadly, not just at the offshore industry, but at
alternative energies altogether in looking at relative safety cases for energy,
wind energy, solar energy, as well as offshore energy.
Marsha, I think steps safety and environmental protection
has to be a part of our culture in whatever we do in this Department.
Certainly as we look at renewable energy and we adopt the Bob Abbey doctrine
of smart from the start, we need to make sure that we are looking at those safety and environmental
issues. Indeed, what we are working on right now with
respect to the hydraulic fracturing issue, which is part of that working
agenda. But let me take your question and step back
just a minute. The President said last night was that we
want to essentially take a moon-shot to energy independence.
He called it "The Sputnik moment of the United States."
With respect to innovation and with respect to energy, it is an ambitious goal.
When you think about the 80% of the energy we use in the United States
coming from clean energy sources by the year 2035,
that gives us less than 25 years to get there. But it is also important to think about that
clean energy portfolio as one which is multifaceted.
It will displease both Republicans and it will displease some Democrats.
It will displease conservatives, and it will displease liberals,
because it is a broad energy portfolio. It includes embracing, yes, wind, geothermal,
and solar energy which we work on so hard in the Department,
but it also includes another part of the Department,
and that is natural gas, and a future for natural gas.
It also includes moving forward with the next chapter with respect to
nuclear energy for the United States. Looking at that broad energy portfolio,
that's why we have confidence we can lay out that bold vision to get us there.
At the end of the day the policy underpinnings for the President's priority
on energy have been clear to me from day one and
even before he became president for him. We need to get to a new world of energy, because
winning the future really is going to be largely dependent on who wins the race
on the energy future and how we harness the varied parts of energy that
we have in our energy portfolio to get us there.
If we can win that future, which I believe we will that future,
it means that we have first of all addressed the issue
of national security so that we are not dependent on the dependency
that has grown over the last fourty years for the implementation of oil from faraway
sources, where there is essentially much of the money that fuels anti-American
sentiment. Second, that we address the creation of jobs
here in the United States, which is good obviously for the economy,
which is our number one agenda right now. And number three, that we are able to address
the warming of our planet. So when we talk about winning the future,
it is all in that innovation and energy agenda. Let me thank all of you for being so wonderful
for being here today and for listening to my comments.
I have another meeting that I have to run to in five minutes,
but I wanted to say thank you to the 70,000 employees of the Department of the Interior
who work every day on behalf of the people of the United States.
Thank you. [APPLAUSE]