Secretaries Locke and Vilsack in Regional Energy Leadership Briefing

Uploaded by whitehouse on 25.08.2009

Ms. Chen: Good morning. As Greg said my name's Tina Chen,
I am the Director of the Office of Public Engagement.
Those of you who are familiar with Washington might have known
this office by its prior name, which it had back to the Nixon
Administration, which was the Office of Public Liaison.
I can't even say the word, which is one of the reasons we changed
the name. But about three months ago, the President sort of
recommissioned us, gave us the new name of the Office of Public
Engagement to really convey what we hope to do,
and this gathering is actually very representative of what we
hope to do, and that is to engage leaders and organizations
and grassroots folks from across the country,
not just those who happen to be here in Washington,
or the national offices of organizations that have
Washington-based liaisons.
We are doing that work, obviously, as well,
but we want to extend the reach of the White House across the
country into your communities and really make the folks that
you work with feel as though they are part of what happens
here, because they are very much.
That's something the President as a former community organizer
himself feels very passionately about,
and that is that the government is really about everyone in
their own communities, you know, taking a stand, being active,
speaking out. It's how, you know, his campaign was built,
it's how we hope this process of governing by this Administration
is built as well.
This issue in particular is one that touches everyone in their
own homes, everyone in their own businesses, in their schools.
You all know that, and we hope that you will be partners with
us as we really address energy and climate change seriously.
The President has said it many times that this is really a
foundation for the future.
We are, what we are doing right now is something what we will be
judged on for decades to come on whether we've really turned the
corner for this country and we hope internationally on
seriously addressing energy and climate change in a way that is
both good environmentally, but also essential for what should
be the basis for our economy of the future as well.
Because if we don't make the changes that we're talking about
here, not only will we be in much more serious trouble
environmentally as a planet, but this country will not be
positioned to have the jobs in the future.
Because the jobs of the future are the ones that will be clean
energy jobs, the jobs that will bring that technology here so
that we can be exporting it rather than having to import it
from around the world.
We have really some of the great leaders in this area,
we're really fortunate in this Administration to have folks who
have agreed to come here and give their time and their
careers and their knowledge to really build what we're doing
here. And we really want you all to be involved with us.
So we hope that this is just the first of many times that you'll
be both here at the White House and engaged with us.
Greg Nelson on my staff is really the point person on
energy and environmental outreach.
We have about 20 staff in the Office of Public Engagement
covering around 50 different issue groups and affinity groups
and, you know, we are engaging more and more of them across the
board in energy and climate change even if that's not their
focal point because we do think it's so important.
But you all have been working on this in your areas,
and so you are the leaders, and we hope again that you'll be
partners with us on it.
We've structured the day so that it is,
you have an opportunity not only to hear from folks but really
engage in Q&A, and we hope that you will do that so that you get
your questions answered and that you feel, you know,
that you have the information to go back to your communities and
really talk about what we're doing and sort of generate
support out there for what we are doing here because it will I
think as you see from the health care debate that's going on not
something that we can do just in Washington,
not something that just we can do from here in the White House.
Energy and climate change is also going to be the same kind
of engaged debate across the country when we really get down
to it, when the Congress comes back in the Fall,
and so we hope that you will, you will work with us on that.
So it's now my real pleasure to introduce my colleague Nancy
Sutley, who's the chair of the President's Council on
Environmental Quality. Nancy comes to us from the Mayor's
Office in Los Angeles and also from the California EPA, so
she's one of you. I mean, she knows what it's like to be out
there in the states and working on these issues.
And so I hope you enjoy your day,
please stay in touch with us after you leave here with any
questions, any follow-up you may have.
Greg will be in touch with you, and let me bring Nancy up.
Ms. Sutley: Thank you, Tina, and welcome to all of you. I'm very glad to see
you all here and thank you all for coming and making the trip
to Washington and to the White House.
As Tina said, I've spent many years in state and local
government in a place far away from Washington,
and I know how important the work that you all do is,
and so we do very much appreciate the interest you've
shown by coming here today.
And Tina was right in saying that this building a clean
energy economy is a very high priority for the President and
for the Administration.
It's a pillar of the President's domestic policy and one of the
greatest challenges that we as a nation face.
All of you understand in your cities and your communities the
many opportunities that are opening up as the nation
transitions to a clean energy economy.
In this time of extraordinary challenge,
a time where we're confronting the greatest economic crisis in
a generation, this is an opportunity to spur job
creation, to reduce our dependence on foreign oil,
to be good stewards of the land for future generations,
and to get our country running on clean domestic-made energy.
We think this is an opportunity that we can't afford to miss and
the time that we need to act is now.
I want to take a little time this morning to lay out the
Administration's overall vision on energy and climate change and
talk about some of the steps that we've already taken to
begin to turn this vision into a reality.
The President believes it's important that we have a
comprehensive plan on the clean energy economy that focuses on a
number of important issues.
The first is to create millions of new jobs here in the United
States developing, manufacturing, deploying,
and maintaining clean energy and energy efficiency technologies
to cut pollution and to make the U.S. the world's leader in clean
energy, and unfortunately right now we're falling behind in the
race for jobs and technology.
The second is to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and to
diversify our sources of energy. And third, to institute an
incentive system for clean energy that will make clean
energy the profitable kind of energy.
And this will also help to clean up our environment by cracking
down on those who pollute our rivers and streams and the water
we drink and the air we breathe.
So this overall energy vision is clear,
and as you look back at what we've done since coming into
office, you can see that we've taken a number of concrete steps
to lay the foundation for energy reform.
The Recovery Act invests more than $80 billion in clean energy
measures, which includes $5 billion to weatherize homes.
This will on average save $350 for each household as they use
less energy to heat and cool their homes.
It includes $6 billion for state and local governments to
implement energy efficiency and renewable energy programs
tailored to meet their own needs, and over $500 million for
training programs geared towards clean energy jobs.
Second, the Administration has undertaken a number of
regulatory efforts to show the commitment towards this clean
energy future. In May the President announced a
comprehensive national program for fuel efficiency that will
save consumers money and put us on the path to save 1.8
billion barrels of oil.
The President also directed the Department of Energy to
implement more aggressive efficiency standards for common
household appliances like dishwashers and refrigerators
that will save consumers money, and over the next three decades
save twice the amount of energy produced by all the coal-fired
power plants in America in any given year. My notes say that
appliance standards may not sound all that exciting.
I think they're kind of exciting.
But it is very important stuff when you look at
how we cut our energy use. And just two weeks ago the President
announced $2.4 billion in competitive grants to develop
the next generation of electric vehicles.
These Recovery Act funds will fund 48 projects in more than 20
states, and they will create tens of thousands of jobs across
the United States and work towards revitalizing the
American auto industry.
But laying the foundation only goes so far,
and at some point we have to build on that foundation.
That's why the President, when he was addressing the Joint
Sessions of Congress in March, asked lawmakers to send him
comprehensive energy legislation to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions and transform the way that we create and use energy.
So the next step we have in front of us is to pass
comprehensive energy and climate change legislation.
And to tell us a little bit more about that legislative effort I
want to introduce my chief of staff at CEQ, John Carson,
who's going to brief us on these legislative efforts.
Mr. Carson: All right, thank you, Nancy. First we'll talk just a little
bit about the timeline that we're looking at.
As I'm sure you're all aware, at the end of June,
this legislative session we saw the House of Representatives
pass the first comprehensive climate and energy legislation
all the way through the House.
That's the first time that had ever been done, obviously.
And I think that was a fascinating,
it was a fascinating debate to watch because you got to see all
the different players that were involved.
And it showed that this debate, in order to get legislation
passed you're going to have to bring in some players that
haven't been there in the past.
And we'll be talking about that a little bit later.
But now what's going on in the Senate?
Obviously a major focus right now is on health care,
but while that's going on there will be six different committees
that are working on their pieces of this legislation in the
Senate. Those will all be brought together,
Majority Leader Reid has set a deadline of September 28th for
committees to mark up that legislation.
So between now and then, it's incredibly important that we all
be engaged in this debate.
The White House and this Administration are going to be
engaged in this debate, and let's talk a little bit about
what are some of the pieces of that.
We talk about the need for this legislation because it will
create the clean energy jobs of the future.
And that is, that is a message that really resonates with the
American people. They see the state that the economy is in
right now, and they know that we perhaps aren't going to get the
economy back that we want by just recreating what used to be
there. They know that we need to see something new,
and clean energy jobs are a visible, realistic path to get
that done. Now, because of the Recovery Act, we have
opportunity after opportunity to show that this is happening.
Over the next six weeks and beyond,
as this debate continues, you're going to see what we call here
in the Administration the Green Cabinet.
Members of the Administration who, for instance,
my boss Nancy Sutley, Carol Browner from the Office of
Energy and Climate Change, Secretary Salazar,
Secretary Chu, but also other members of the Cabinet who
aren't as directly involved in environmental issues on a
day-to-day basis: Secretary Donovan from Housing and Urban
Development, Secretary Solis, all of them and others are going
to be traveling the country talking about the need for this
legislation, how we're going to create the clean energy jobs of
the future, and because of the Recovery Act we have concrete
examples of how this is, how this is happening.
Grants that have been given, I think the perfect example of
this is really what the President highlighted on Earth
Day back in April. He visited a plant in Newton, Iowa that used
to be a Maytag washing machine plant.
He obviously had spent quite a bit of time in Iowa in some
earlier years, and was actually in Iowa during the campaign in
2007 when that plant closed.
And the effect that that had on that community was devastating.
He returned on Earth Day of this year to that plant,
which has reopened and is now creating wind turbines.
So what our Green Cabinet and this Administration are going to
be focusing on and what I urge all of you as you engage in this
debate to focus on is not just, not just talking about creating
the clean energy jobs, but find those examples in your
community. There are entrepreneurs, there are
energized people all around the country who are creating these
new jobs with the help of the Recovery Act and through other
efforts. Find those and use those as the examples of how
we're going to get this done.
I'll tell you a little bit more about some of the specific trips
that our Green Cabinet members are taking part in.
Secretary Vilsack is going to central Missouri to talk about
green jobs and renewable technology. A delegation just
recently went to Alaska, including Nancy, to see
firsthand the impacts that we're seeing from climate change.
And I think this is another important piece when we focus
very hard on the clean energy jobs that are going to be
created, but as you talk about the impacts from climate change
I think it's very important to focus on the localized regional
effects. People can really understand how this affects
their lives when you can point to things like Nancy saw in
Alaska, villages literally washing out into the sea.
Another program that we're focused on here in the
Administration is a whole series of conference calls.
We recently last week and we'll be having more this week with
mayors across the country who we explain to them,
I would say sort of a broad overview of this legislation,
what the Administration's goals are, talk specifically about
some work that the Department of Energy is doing with a part of
the Recovery Act that directly affects them.
That will be another piece that we're focusing on to help people
understand this issue. Because that's, to close, I'd like to
talk specifically about that issue.
During the campaign an important thing,
I think the Obama campaign did was focus on having face-to-face
conversations where people who are being barraged by all the
ads out there, all the TV stories,
they were able to have a conversation with their neighbor
about what their neighbor thought about this candidate.
The importance of that in a debate like this is even more,
is even more amplified.
There are going to be ad barrages, I imagine,
from both sides as this issue heats up.
But the confusion about this legislation and what it's going
to mean for businesses, what it's going to mean for citizens,
is going to be many times greater than the confusion
people had during the campaign.
You can clearly see the misleading rumors that are out
there right now during the health care debate,
and you can expect similar things to happen during the
energy debate, and in fact we saw that in June,
but I think you can expect it to be even greater in Senate.
And like the campaign when that one-on-one neighbor to neighbor
conversation happened and put people at ease and got them the
facts that they wanted, the power that we all have to do
that in conversations with people who are influencing the
dialogue is even greater.
Imagine later this summer, rural electric cooperatives all across
the country will be having their monthly board meetings.
People will gather around the table and they'll be concerned
about this. It directly affects their consumers.
Imagine the impact on the debate in that room if someone in this
room sits down with just one of those members and explains the
facts so that when someone brings up a wild accusation or a
wild story that consumer prices are going to increase X amount,
if there's someone in that room that has the facts that is able
to explain to people how this is going to make a difference.
Imagine a City Council meeting somewhere across the country
where people are debating a tough budget, if one of you have
talked to them, and they have the facts, it's going to have
a tremendous impact.
The ultimate result that you see in the Senate is going to be
nothing more than a reflection of the debates that's going on
around the country, and I think this is one of those issues
where as the more people we can get who understand what the
reality is, who understand the importance of this and can point
to those clear examples of clean energy jobs, the more,
the better chances we have to get this done.
So with that, I am going to turn it over for a bit more in-depth
on some of the legislative debate, Heather,
this is Heather Zichal from the Office of Energy and Climate
Change, who will tell you a little bit more about the debate
that we'll probably see this Fall in the Senate.
Ms. Zichal: Thanks, John. And thank you; everyone, for being here today.
It's a tremendous opportunity to work together and continue to
advance President Obama's larger climate and energy goals.
I will spend a few minutes here talking about exactly what's
going on with the legislation.
I think probably everybody in this room knows that earlier
this year we saw action in the House with comprehensive
legislation from Congressman Waxman moved through the
committee, again, a comprehensive bill that includes
everything from reducing, you know,
measures to reduce dependence on oil to invest in green jobs and
energy efficiency.
Ultimately the legislation also included a really aggressive
greenhouse gas emissions target of 17% emissions reduction by
2020, and 80% emissions reduction by 2050 with again
corresponding strong interim targets.
So now that we've got the Bill through the House we're all
focused on what's going to happen in the Senate.
The, you know, just to put things in a little bit of
context, the Senate pursued a piece of legislation previously
in the past Congress, and the way that they've decided to
tackle things is a little bit different and unique for
legislative strategies in the Senate.
There, obviously because of the wide breadth of energy and
climate policies, there are a number of committees that are
involved and have jurisdiction in the ultimate Bill.
So we have six committees in the Senate that have jurisdiction
over energy and climate. They, each of those separate
committees will be working on marking up their provisions of
the Bill. The Majority Leader Reid has asked the committees
work with a deadline of September 28th, trying to each
report out their bills.
So over the summer months, what we've seen is all these,
you know, members and staffs trying to work to pull the
specific provisions together.
So in Commerce, for example, they're very much focused on
NOAA, you know, NOAA's role and what we're doing in the
adaptation front on the climate science.
You've got the Foreign Relations Committee very much focused on
international, international offsets and funding for
technology transfer. There's the Ag Committee again which I'm
sure Secretary Vilsack will be speaking to more directly,
but obviously how that impacts rural economies and what we do
with the domestic offsets program, EPW, obviously,
will be front and center.
They're doing a lot of the work on the, you know,
what exactly are the emissions reduction levels.
The Finance Committee with, you know,
the majority of the work they're doing is on how do you allocate
the allowances. So all of these different committees will be
working directly on their pieces of the legislation,
again with the goal of reporting them out of the,
out of their respective committees by September 28th.
Then Majority Leader Reid will be working to pull all those
components together, pile them, pile them up,
and work directly with members to, you know,
finalize the legislation and put, put a nice little bow on
the top of it. And that will be the product that ultimately we
take and that moves on the Senate floor.
So I think, you know, it's going to,
it will be an interesting process as these committees
work to report out their products.
One committee's already finished,
there's the Energy Committee.
Again there's a lot of domestic oil and gas production energy
efficiency provisions, and ultimately, again,
the goal here is to take all of these pieces,
put them into one product, and then that's what we'll move on
the Senate floor.
And I think that in terms of the timing,
we're absolutely looking at something this Fall and,
you know, as I'm sure you've heard from others, you know,
there are a number of members that are very much, you know,
trying to work proactively to determine the best policy to get
to yes, and I think there are a lot of,
a lot of committee chairs and members of the leadership,
democratic leadership in the Senate that are working directly
with the Senators to help them, you know,
to help finalize the legislation and put the components together
to get a product that we can pass through the Senate.
And again, you know, I think all of this underscores the fact
that the White House and the Administration is very much
focused on getting this legislation through and,
you know, we certainly have our work cut out for us but as
you've heard from many members of the Cabinet out there,
this is a tremendous opportunity to transition.
The President very much sees this legislation as something
that's key to economic recovery, key to our future for
environmental reasons and national security reasons,
and I think you'll continue to hear more about that from the
President as we head into the Fall. And with that, I think we
can turn it over, I think we wanted to take a few minutes to
see if folks have questions, and make sure that you have all the
answers you need. Yes.
Speaker: One question, in the legislation are there other --
[inaudible] that will help create customer pull to get
consumers to start buying hybrid vehicles,
plug-in hybrid vehicles when they become available?
Ms. Zichal: I think, you know, it's hard for me to say where
the Senate product is going to end up, but certainly, you know,
the Finance Committee is very much focused on what tax
provisions should be included.
Previously we've seen a lot of success in the existing tax
credits for the purchase of advanced technology vehicles.
I would suspect that that would be extended.
It's something that we saw was, you know, again,
popular in the House version of the legislation, so, you know,
I feel fairly confident, I don't have a crystal ball,
but I feel fairly confident that will be included as well as
other provisions on the auto efficiency front. A lot of, you
know, electrification, you know, what do we need to do to advance
access to grants for batteries R&D, you know, making sure that
we have the infrastructure in place to electrify the fleet,
so a lot of those provisions we expect will also
be in the Bill. Yes.
Speaker: What, the balance has been the lack of funding for
next generation technology, so we fund today's technologies,
we see -- [inaudible] we don't fund burgeoning technologies,
we have whole bunch of ideas die in the valley of death and there
is this space between R&D and development work to
privatization. Will there be funding available for
companies that are growing?
Ms. Zichal: I think during the, the President actually on the
campaign spent a lot of time speaking to this issue directly
and so this is something, you know, very, that he's very much
focused on. I think when, when the House worked on their
provisions in this area, they, I mean, it was, they identified
the fact that they were, they had a decent amount of money set
aside for RD&D, but that that probably needed to be fleshed
out a little bit more.
And I think in our conversations with folks in the Senate they're
very much working on and looking at what's the right way to do
that and what's the right dollar amount to put there.
People from our Administration, whether that's OSTP or
Department of Energy are engaged in, you know,
technical discussions about where the right place to end up
is. So again, no crystal ball, but based on the conversations
we've had with the Senate, that that is something that they are
trying to sort out and I think is a priority for the
Administration as a whole.
Speaker: Thanks.
Ms. Zichal: Yes.
Speaker: From the Administration's perspective what are some of the
most important green jobs provisions for which
you're seeking support?
Ms. Zichal: Well, I want Nancy and John to chime in as well
because they've done a lot of work at CEQ on this front,
and actually just recently are working at publishing a report
about all the success that we've seen in the Recovery Act through
green job initiatives.
Again, Secretary Solis and the Department of Labor have been
proactively engaged with the Senate to try and, you know,
identify a more robust program.
We have the Green Jobs Act which was funded for the first time
through the Recovery Act, I think we've seen a lot of really
amazing success stories, you know, just a couple weeks ago
was on the phone with some folks in Michigan who are training
folks at a local community college to work on advanced
technology vehicles. So there are a lot of unique and
interesting ways that these, that the Green Jobs Act is being
funded. But this is a space, you know, whether it's educating,
you know, new workers for, to address clean energy
technologies or, you know, helping -- use money to
transition, you know, workers into, into new jobs that are,
you know, repairing wind turbines, building wind
turbines. Across the board I think, you know, we, we have,
we are moving in a good direction but I think, you know,
what we would see as a priority is the Green Jobs Act funding
and working for more robust programs to go in line with
that. I don't know if you had anything that you wanted to add.
Ms. Sutley: I think also to take the start that we made in the
Recovery Act both in terms of green job training and the
weatherization and other places where there's been funding and
try to see how both, with using our existing executive authority
and potentially new legislative authority to make that more
sustainable and to keep the effort going long beyond when
our Recovery Act funds go away.
This is really I think the focus.
Ms. Zichal: Right. Yes.
Speaker: Is there some sense of what aspects of Waxman's Bill 2454
will have the most difficult time surviving the Senate?
Ms. Zichal: Well, look, here, I think, I think the way to think about the
product of the House is that it was a significant down payment
and history was made that the day that they cast the votes and
got that legislation through.
And as somebody who previously spent a lot of time working on
Capital Hill the notion that we could pass something that had a
17% emissions reduction in it by 2020 when all the conversations
previously were like, oh, hopefully let's cross our
fingers and see if we can get to like six.
So I think, you know, broadly speaking we made a lot of really
good progress in the House, we're going to continue to tweak
and refine that legislation.
There are, there's a lot of attention as became abundantly
clear towards the end of the process in the House on the
agricultural offsets, what's the right policy domestically and
internationally, so I suspect we'll see a lot of focus there.
I think there will be some discussion around the emissions
reduction numbers in the Senate and then I think the big Bill at
the end of the day will also be focused on what's the right way
to allocate the allowances.
And I would see that those three areas will be very key as the
Senate debate moves forward.
In the back?
Speaker: Yes. What is the committee's position on ensuring that we
have a fair and effective trade policy in place so we don't
further erode the current manufacturing base
in this country?
Ms. Zichal: Again, another, you know, we've,
another very key piece of the debate in the House centered
around the border adjustment, border tax provisions.
And I think, you know, if you step back and think about what
we need to do in order to, you know,
globally achieve our emissions reductions,
it's to get a strong international agreement.
So I think, you know, we start with the fact that we need,
we need to work directly with all countries to get a strong
international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
That's, that's goal number one.
And then the provisions from there, and again,
I don't think I'm telling you anything you haven't read in the
newspapers, but there's a, there is a healthy and robust debate
around what is, what's that right policy.
Some argue that a border tax is exactly what you need in order
to induce China and India to act, China and India and other
countries, other major polluters to act and aggressively pursue
emissions reductions.
And then, you know, there are a handful of other people that
think that that's problematic.
Again, I feel a little bit like a broken record in that I don't
have, you know, I can't tell you exactly where that's going to
end up, but from the Administration's perspective and
I think what a lot of folks on the Hill are focused on is how
do we make sure that we are protecting our manufacturing
base, pursuing policies that are going to encourage other
countries to act in a similar way to reduce their emissions,
and do all that, and again, I think in a way that makes sense
for our trade policy.
So I don't have, I can't tell you exactly where we're going to
end up, but I think that those basic principles are, you know,
at the foundation for future work.
Ms. Sutley: And I think, I mean this is a global problem that
needs a global response and how we structure the,
dealing with the, the trade and manufacturing,
we also just to have to keep in mind that we're,
the best likelihood for getting a global agreement is if there's
some movement I think on the part of the United States to be
a part of the global solution.
Ms. Zichal: On the end?
Mr. Boland: Hi, Jim Boland with the Evangelical Environmental
Network. Just a flag on a global response,
a deep concern of the religious community in this United States
is international adaptation, which hasn't been brought up
yet, so just to keep that in mind, but my question is,
John mentioned the Green Cabinet.
That's terrific, that folks are going to be going out.
One of the things that just from my own perspective of looking at
the media coverage of the House vote and the run-up to that was
the President wasn't out, I didn't see him out front talking
about this. So is the President going to be talking more about
this during the Senate debate?
Ms. Zichal: Well, I think just to address the,
a couple of the issues that you raise, one,
on the international adaptation front the Chair of the Foreign
Relations Committee has made it abundantly clear that --
Mr. Carson: Her former boss.
Ms. Zichal: Yeah, my former boss.
Has made it a priority to work on getting the provisions,
to include a provision in the comprehensive legislation and I
would guess that it will probably even be an underlying
bill that gets introduced, so I think we're going to make good
progress there. In terms of, you know, what you've heard and seen
from the President, I mean, a lot of things,
there should be no question in anyone's mind that this is a top
priority for the President.
I mean, you heard him talk about this consistently on the
campaign. Any time that he's been out, you know, talking
about our, you know, economic challenges for the economy,
when he's traveling internationally, he always,
always mentions the fact that this is a top priority.
And I think it's really easy for us to like look at what he might
be doing or saying on health care and feel like, oh, well,
he should be saying or doing more when it comes to energy and
climate. But the reality is, every day this is weaved into
his top line message and so maybe it's not on the front page
of "The New York Times," but it is something there that is a
consistent, you know, there's a consistent drum beat from the
President. And I also think, I mean, a lot of this, too,
is just what happens behind the scenes.
I mean when the legislation in the House,
the Committee was trying to figure out like can they get
this done, he pulled all of the Committee Democrats from Energy
and Commerce up and had a meeting at the White House,
and sort of laid out like, look, this is a priority for me and
this isn't about, this isn't about me,
this is about what we all need to do and we make tough
decisions and we take these tough votes because it's
important and this is why we're all here.
So, you know, there's a lot happening behind the scenes.
There's a lot happening across the Administration.
In terms of the Fall, you know, we've got Copenhagen coming up
which is going to provide some, you know,
good opportunities and the President will be out there.
We're going to continue to talk about the success we've seen
with the Recovery Act programs in terms of, you know,
stimulating the economy, but also, you know, making a down,
a significant down payment on reducing greenhouse gas
emissions through investments in clean energy and, you know,
you're just going to continue to hear and see a lot more from the
Administration as we move forward.
Ms. Sutley: I think we have time for a couple more questions. So --
Speaker: Yes. One of the focuses of the Jewish faith community relates
to the impact of climate change on poverty and on the poor
community in the country.
Number one, how is that being focused upon in the legislative
debate; and secondly, if you want us to go out and help
promote the President's policy you have to give us more facts.
Everything that I hear is conclusory.
We're going to create a million jobs.
How are you going to do that and who's going to get them?
The people at the bottom of the pile lose the jobs and the
people who have the ability to get the technical training get
the jobs, what do you do to even all that out and how do you
propose that jobs be created so we can counteract people who
save the difference?
Ms. Sutley: Well, you know, with respect to low income,
first of all, I think the President has said it's a
priority to make sure the consumers are protected as we go
forward. In the House Bill the way that the allowance
allocation worked, there would be money returned to low-income
consumers of electricity.
And the, as I said before, the Green Jobs Act has now been
funded, there's training money available,
there's money available through the Recovery Act to try to make
sure that these, that these, the incentives that are provided by
a cap and trade and by this energy legislation will help to
create, create these jobs.
We have been working as an Administration to try to make
sure that we're both creating, using our federal authorities,
using the authorities we have to ensure that these jobs are
created and then to really try to make sure that they reflect
all levels of training, all levels of skill.
So we've got, as I said before, we've been working on making
sure that we can sustain the levels of effort that are
created through the Recovery Act spending,
to make sure that they go across the income spectrum
and affect all communities.
Ms. Zichal: I think that's absolutely right.
I mean, again, getting back to the discussion about allocation
of allowances and looking at some of the modeling, whether
that was the CBO or EIA, you know, for middle income families
the projected cost impact is $175 in 2020.
So, and for low income families, you know, again,
projections show that they're actually going to be benefiting
from the way that the House legislation put together the
Bill. I would suspect that consumer protection is going to
remain a top priority as the Senate looks at tackling the
Bill, and looking at the allocation of allowances and how
we protect consumers.
So, you know, I think we will see more of a discussion and
debate around that issue, but as a whole we expect that consumers
will be protected going forward.
And I think, I think one of the important things and take-aways
is we've heard so many people talk about, you know,
the projected cost to consumers is upwards of $3,000 and
this is going to destroy families and, you know,
there is a good story to tell about putting together the right
policy and what you can achieve in terms of, you know, what,
we're talking about a postage stamp a day. And I think the
Administration has been trying to proactively counter a lot of
the, you know, the sky is falling sort of mentality that
has been out there and coming from the other side.
And then just, I think briefly to address your second point
about needing more facts. I mean, I think the whole reason
that we pulled this meeting together and, you know, I
can't speak for what previous administrations have done, but,
you know, again, the fact that you are all here and that we are
working with you today to hear and understand what it is you
need to be better soldiers on the ground is exactly the point
of this entire exercise.
So the more feedback that we can get from you about what would be
helpful, we're happy to provide that to you.
And, you know, we will go and work up some good statistics on
job creation, but again, you know,
I think this is a really exciting opportunity for all of
us to work together and pursue and hopefully succeed on
transitioning to a clean energy economy.
Ms. Sutley: So let me now introduce Secretary Tom Vilsack,
the Secretary of Agriculture, here to talk about agricultural
and rural America and the impacts and prospects for a
rural America. And we're very glad to have you here, Tom,
a former Governor of Iowa. And also with him is Secretary Gary
Locke, Secretary of Commerce. So we'll cede the podium to you.
Thank you very much.
Secretary Vilsack: Very good. Gary, I'm going to go first.
I appreciate the opportunity to be here this morning.
And my perspective is, as you probably no doubt appreciate,
the agricultural side of this discussion.
I've been involved in rural development as a mayor of a
small town, as a state senator, and as a governor.
I can tell you I've not seen the kind of opportunity in rural
America in my lifetime as I've seen today.
Despite the difficulties, despite the recession,
despite the angst that is out there, this Administration has
put in place four significant building blocks to a different,
new, rural economy. We can't talk about broadband today but
Gary and I could talk about it because we're in charge of that
program through the Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a major
investment of broadband expansion.
We're going to link local producers and local consumers
more closely and we're going to really focus on the energy title
of the farm bill with biofuels and renewable energy, but to me
one of the most significant opportunities is the fourth
foundation, which is climate change. And you'll hear a lot of
concern expressed out there by farmers specifically about the
impact of climate change legislation on their operations,
in large part because of what they hear is only the input side
of the discussion. They are concerned about the impact that
climate change legislation will have on the cost of energy
because agriculture is a very energy intensive industry,
and they're concerned about the impact it will have on the cost
of fertilizer and chemicals. So the USDA decided to take a look
at that specific set of issues.
We're not going to discuss today the impact of climate change on
planting seasons and growing seasons, we're already beginning
to see signs of that in parts of the country, specifically in the
western part of the country. So what I'm going to talk
specifically about is dollars and cents.
We decided to take a look at what the impact of the House
passed bill would be on farmers and ranchers in this country.
We took several assumptions, including some of the EPA
numbers. We calculated that, indeed, there would be an
increase in energy costs in the short-term and in the long-term.
We also understood that there would be little impact on
fertilizer expense initially because of the way in which the
bill was crafted. It essentially provides for assistance for
industries that are negatively impacted by the bill.
And so for the first five to ten years,
fertilizer costs should be basically static,
certainly not impacted or affected by this bill because
the industry will get allowances and support under the bill.
Longer term, 15, 20, 25, 30 years down the road,
it is conceivable fertilizer expense would increase.
So there are input costs on part of the equation,
but then when you take a look at the offsets,
the capacity of farmers to basically change the way in
which they are farming, the way in which they're cropping,
the way in which they use their land,
the way in which they raise their livestock,
the way in which they apply their fertilizer,
when they apply it and how they apply it,
all of those steps potentially could qualify for offsets.
And the value of those offsets can be fairly significant.
So our evaluation, which was the most conservative
evaluation, was that in the short-term,
this was essentially a break-even proposition,
maybe a slight benefit to farming.
But in the long-term, we're talking about potentially
somewhere between 10 and $20 billion of net increased income
for farmers and ranchers in this country,
10 to $20 billion of net increase because of the value of
offsets. And that's calculating and valuing offsets at a
relatively low cost. Our evaluation had two assumptions
that, frankly, were quite faulty.
One assumption was that farmers would make absolutely no step to
adapt to raising energy costs. That has certainly not been the
case the last 40 years. Ever since the energy crisis of the
'70s, farmers have, in fact, taken significant steps to
reduce their energy in terms of how much energy they use.
And they'll continue to do that, because farmers are significant
innovators. That would lower the input side of the equation of
our study. The second assumption was that they would adopt
no technology changes.
That, too, is a faulty assumption, because farming is
actually motivated by technology changes. So when you look at
other studies that take into consideration more accurate
reads of the future in terms of inputs, what you see is a higher
number possible for net income for farmers.
This is a winner at the end of the day for farming and
ranching, it is a winner economically.
When you look at the total value of the agricultural economy
directly, and you realize a 10 to $20 billion increase in net
income for farmers from climate change,
and then you add to that energy and you add to that the
conservation programs, there is is a real opportunity here for a
significantly different economy, particularly in the Midwest.
And it is important for us to get that message out,
because there have been those who have done evaluations that
have suggested that this is just simply a negative for farmers.
And that message has been routed fairly deeply in farm country,
as I've traveled around during our rural tour,
I've been in 17 states talking to farmers and ranchers about
this very issue. So one thing I want to leave with you today
before we get to questions and answers, is that at the end of
the day, the most conservative estimate of the impact on
farming and ranching has this as a net winner for farming and
ranching in the long-term.
And it's simply because of the capacity of farmers to adapt
their operation to absorb carbon, or to adapt their
livestock operation to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases
that are produced, and we're already beginning to see signs
of this. I was at the Biochar Institute National Conference in
Colorado a couple of weeks ago, and there's a tremendous
opportunity in biochar.
There's tremendous opportunities in using grasses and fast
growing trees in order to produce energy and in order to
respond to the climate change challenge.
So it's important for folks to know,
leaders to know and communities that this can be a benefit to
agriculture, and, in fact, will be a benefit to agriculture.
And, in fact, creates a foundation for a new rural
economy together with the other three components.
So I'd be happy to talk to you after Gary is finished about
specific questions that you have about this evaluation,
but it is available on our website,
you can get information about it.
Grant, what's the -- if they wanted to access this.
>> It's on our website, it's under the Office of the Chief
Economist, it's right there on the front. I also have a couple
copies of it with me.
>> Okay, under the Office of the Chief Economist on our website,
you can access the information and the evaluation.
Now, there may be some operations,
and I'll finish with this, there may be some operations that
because of the nature of the operation,
they cannot taking advantage, full advantage of the climate
change offset program, and there are concerns about what happens
to those operations.
Well, when you basically create an income opportunity on one
side, that means you free up resources within the
conservation programs that exist today that are helping all
farmers, that you can then channel or direct towards
farmers who are not benefiting proportionately from the offset
program. So essentially you have the capacity to respond to all
types of operations with new income opportunities.
So it's really important that you all understand and
appreciate what I've just said, this is a winner for the
countryside. And apart from what it will do hopefully to slow
down the heating process and slow down the changing of the
planting season and slow down the invasive species and
diseases that can be significant when temperatures increase.
And if you have any doubt about that,
I'll take you out to some of the forests in Colorado and you can
see the impact of a beetle that used to be killed because it
would get cold enough to kill it,
and now a substantial number of pine trees are being destroyed
at a rapid rate, 90 percent of lodgepole pines will probably be
dead as a result of climate change. So it's real.
And this is real money in the pockets of farmers.
My job is to introduce Gary Locke. I could say a lot about
Gary. Gary and I were colleagues together in the National
Governors Association, the Democratic Governors
Association. I would say that two-term governor of the State
of Washington, extraordinarily innovative,
very interested in streamlining process and improving government
so that people had greater confidence in government
services, a great supporter of education reform,
and is now the Secretary of Commerce.
He and I are working closely, ace said earlier,
on our broadband initiative, we are looking forward to working
together on this initiative as well.
And so, Gary, I'll give you the podium and you can speak for few
minutes and then we'll take questions.
Mr. Locke: Thanks. Thanks, Tom. Thank you very much, Tom.
Tom has really been on an incredible worldwind tour all
across America, 17 states in just the last couple of months,
holding town hall meetings with farmers and people in the
agricultural community, and then was also in Africa recently and
looking at the opportunities for American agriculture to help
with the poor and the developing countries,
especially in Africa and later on in Asia.
As Tom indicated, we served as governors,
he of Iowa and I of Washington State, the other Washington,
and we really enjoyed working with each other.
And the governors, when they get together,
you wouldn't know who is a Democrat or Republican,
we're all commiserating about our schedules,
complaining about our own legislatures and always railing
begins the federal bureaucracy.
Now we're on the other side and trying to streamline the federal
bureaucracy, and to be a little bit more responsive to our
colleagues. Washington State is also very concerned about
climate change. Secretary Vilsack was talking about the
beetle, it is devastating large, large stands of trees in
the pacific northwest.
What used to be cold enough winters to kill these pests and
bugs are not cold enough, and so these bugs are not dying off,
and we're seeing so many more thousands of acres every single
year being devastated, and timber values being decimated.
So climate change is very, very real.
But it's also very real in my State of Washington where we
depend on the Cascade mountains to provide snow during the
wintertime, that snow melts gradually over the summertime to
produce water for our streams and rivers for fish,
water for irrigation, water for drinking for our towns and our
cities. With climate change, we've already seen the elevation
of the freezing level or the snow level in the mountains,
what now -- or what used to fall as snow is now falling as rain,
which is causing a lot more severe flooding in the spring
and in the fall and in the wintertime,
and producing less snow in the mountains that otherwise would
provide water for people, for fish and for agriculture.
So this is really very, very real.
And that's why we as a country must embark on climate change to
try to mitigate, to try and prevent some of these
catastrophic consequences of climate change,
and we still have time to do it, but we must act and we must act
soon. Just a couple months ago on Earth Day,
President Obama visited Tom Vilsack's home state of Iowa and
got a glimpse of one possible American future.
There in the town of Newton is an old Maytag plant that once
made washing machines, but now is transformed into a factory
making the towers for wind turbines.
That Newton wind plant obviously hasn't brought back all of the
jobs that were lost when the Maytag plant closed,
but it did bring back something that I think everybody and every
place America is looking for, hope. Hope.
After decades of decline in our manufacturing sector,
it's time to turn it around by investing in and focusing on
sectors that hold the promise of creating really good-paying
family wage jobs. And few areas are as ripe for American
innovation and ingenuity than powering the world economy with
clean energy and better energy efficiency. World demand for
energy is going to increase by 50 percent by 2030.
And it's going to be hard enough to meet that demand using any
type of energy that we can find.
But we're not looking for any old type of energy.
This new energy has to be clean to avoid catastrophic climate
change, and it's got to be cheap to keep our economy growing.
So whichever country finds the solution to this energy
conundrum will lead one of the most promising areas of economic
reform and economic growth in the 21st century. You know, a
single wind turbine, for instance, contains up to 400
tons of steel, along with 8,000 parts of copper, wire and
gearboxes to electronic controls. Jobs that make these
components, along with jobs that create this technology can be
done here in America. Done here in America.
It's already being done here in America.
We're seeing is a small taste of what's really possible.
Now, since becoming commerce secretary a couple months ago,
I've actually had an opportunity to travel part of the Midwest,
and the northeast.
You know, I've actually seen solar panels being built in the
heart of Michigan auto country, and these solar panels are
actually being exported to Asia.
Also just recently was in Kansas City, Missouri,
and visited a factory that's a company that's making advanced
Lithium auto batteries for all electric vehicles,
and we're not talking about passenger vehicles,
we're talking about these huge, huge panel trucks that make
deliveries to our grocery stores and our supermarkets.
These huge very large expensive utility trucks with those lift
buckets that work on the utility lines.
And both these panel trucks and these utility trucks with the
lift buckets for the electric company have a range of other
100 miles on a charge. That's even more range than some of the
passenger vehicles that are being developed.
Well, America is going to need these thousands of engineers,
skilled tradesmen, industrial designers,
computer experts to build anything and everything from a
national smart grid to clean coal power plants.
But it's not going to happen on its own.
It's not going to happen on its own.
And make no mistake, the world is not going to wait for America
to take the lead on this issue.
We're going to have to compete in this new energy technology
like our economy depends on it, because, in fact,
it really does.
Just last month, I was in China with Secretary of Energy Steven
Chu, and we saw how that country has already adopted perhaps one
of the most aggressive energy efficiency programs in the
entire world, and how, for instance,
they are developing the largest wind farm in the world,
the largest wind farm in the world.
And meanwhile, the United States has spent the last decade
watching the rest of the world pass us by.
I mean, I saw so many examples of American companies who are
assembling diesel engines in a meet the highest energy
standards and emission standards in the entire world,
built in America, but finally assembled in China.
They're talking about and doing research on producing natural
gas from coal in China.
So China and India are really moving forward and have very
aggressive goals on energy efficiency,
on fuel standards and on research and development.
You know, in the mid 1990's, the United States produced over 40
percent of the world's solar cells. 40 percent.
Today we produce just 7 percent.
In a recent -- General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt and venture
capitalist John Doerr, noting the striking fact that Amazon,
e-Bay, Microsoft, yahoo, these five leading Internet technology
companies are the best in the world. The best in the world.
The five biggest in the world, all American.
And yet, of the top 30 alternative energy companies,
only six are American. There's simply no reason why America
shouldn't have the same primacy in clean energy as it does in
technology and other fields.
President Obama has clearly taken note of this,
which is why the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
featured tax credits, loans, R&D in spending that represent the
largest ever investment in clean energy.
But direct federal assistance is only going to get us so far.
If we ever want to get renewable energy up to scale,
we need to create the right incentives or the smartest
entrepreneurs in the country to jump in.
And that's why one way or another,
we have to pass the energy legislation before the Congress,
and the legislation that will put in place a market-based cap
on carbon pollution, the primary source of these greenhouse gases
that are causing climate change.
This will create the right price signals and provide the market
certainty necessary to deliver on the President's goal of
transition to a clean energy market.
You know, President Nixon in the '70's became the first president
to announce that the United States needed to free itself
from the grip of foreign oil, but we've seen that speech over
and over again, we've seen the reaction of America time and
time again when energy prices shot up,
a big jump into clean energy, when the price of energy and gas
dropped, we abandoned all of those efforts.
If we place a market-based cap on carbon emissions,
it will send a sure fire signal to every entrepreneur in America
that it's safe and wise and profitable to make long-term
investments in clean energy. Because if we stick the status
quo, the boom and bust cycle will continue until one day when
the price of oil skyrockets again and stays there, but then
there will be too much demand and too little supply for
energy. Our economy, our environment, or national
security cannot await for that day to arrive. And I think a lot
of people underestimate the capacity of American businesses
to innovate when the right incentives are there.
And here is one example where we've already seen this
market-based -- or market-based approach with a cap on emissions
has actually worked.
In the early 1990's, recall that a lot of people in the business
community were particularly concerned about a similar
market-based approach to curb acid rain pollutants.
To curb acid rain.
A lot of groups said that this would cost American businesses
up to $50 billion a year.
Ultimately it ended up costing less than 5 percent of that.
And actually electricity rates for consumers dropped by over 20
percent over the next decade and a half.
So this wasn't big government picking winners, instead,
it involved the federal government setting very
broad-based goals and allowing the private sector to innovate
and to compete to reach them, and that's exactly the essence
of what we're talking about.
And we have a market-based cap on carbon emissions,
that's when people and industries will, for instance,
be paying farmers to plant more trees and to engage in other
activities that will absorb the carbon,
and that's how Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack talks about
the net benefits to farming from clean energy.
So there's so much that we can do. And the markets are immense
in the years ahead, great opportunities for American
companies to take the lead. But know that China and India are
already moving forward aggressively.
Yes, they have a long ways to go,
but they are also respond to go this catastrophe,
and they understand that this provides economic benefits to
them and to their industries.
So it's a question of will America seize the opportunity or
are we going to let others preempt us.
But the Chinese and Indian citizens don't want to live in
areas with undrinkable water and smoke-filled skies.
They, too, are demanding cleaner energy solutions.
And one way or another, they are going to get it.
And the question is, will America help provide the
solutions and the answers and the income to our people,
or are we going to let other countries do that.
Thank you very much.
Mr. Vilsack: All right.
With that, I think we've some some time for questions.
Boy, I'll tell you, what Gary, do you want me to do this?
Mr. Locke: Go ahead, yeah.
Mr. Vilsack: Yes, sir.
Speaker: I am the entrepreneur you're looking for.
I founded a [Inaudible] solar installation company [Inaudible]
all the U. S., and I too, recent came back from China looking for
solar panels manufactured over there, because they are,
frankly, less expensive right now, considerably less expensive
than U. S. panels. And of very highest quality.
They are [Inaudible] industry doing a great job and it's a
very high quality product.
But just as important as the panels over there is I have a
very serious problem getting credit.
I can't get credit through my business,
I can't get credit to construct projects,
I can't get credit to finance products, and the Chinese are
willing to bring this credit to the U.S. So I'm in a situation
where I have to buy panels from China so I can get credit to
build projects, and then hire installers in Vermont or based
in all the countries, other rural areas and urban areas to
do business. Credit is a key issue for us to create jobs in
this [Inaudible] economy.
Nothing in the climate bill is helping our [Inaudible]
business, 100 million-dollar [Inaudible] business.
Mr. Vilsack: Well, the Recovery and Reinvestment Act,
I'll just take it from my perspective, the USDA has a
$1.7 billion loan and grant program for business and
industry expansion and development.
We can guarantee loans, provide guarantees as high as 70, 80,
in some cases 90 percent loan guarantees.
So we work with commercial banks,
we're happy if you want to give us information about your
circumstance, we'll be happy to have our rural development folks
get in touch with you and see whether or not we could work
something out, but there's $1.7 billion that I know is
available, and that's just the Recovery and Reinvestment Act,
that's not our regular funding.
And, Gary, I don't know if you've got a program similar to
that, but we have a substantial amount of credit and programs
that we're trying to put to work to create these clean jobs.
Mr. Locke: One of the things that the Department of Commerce has is a
program called the manufacturing extension partnership,
where we actually make ourselves available,
and it's a 50/50 federal state program.
But -- and each state is different,
sometimes we hook up with a college or university,
sometimes with a technology center,
but the point is to actually provide services for American
manufacturing to help them become a lot more efficient,
to be become more technology driven and focused to reduce
their cost, and also to help them find markets.
And then we have also have a foreign commercial service
operation where we actually have people,
both in the United States, that will receive American
entrepreneur and say, wow, you make this product, well,
we think that we can help you sell that product in Brazil or
in Korea or in Vietnam.
And then line up, help line up customers for that American
factory. So we have all of those services to try and make that
American manufacturer even more efficient, more productive,
so that that factory and that operation can stay in America.
And then -- but we do know that credit is tight.
It's credit -- tight as -- credit is tight,
not just for people in agriculture,
but also in manufacturing, in the new technology.
Credit is tight for the auto suppliers,
the second and third tier auto suppliers, and I know that,
for instance, the SBA has loans that will guarantee up to 90
percent of various types of transactions,
but if the bank isn't even willing to take on that other 10
percent, then what good is a 90 percent loan -- a guarantee.
And so the Administration is very concerned about that,
we know that credit is tight, and, of course,
we're seeing credit beginning to free up a little bit,
which is why the Administration has been so preoccupied about
getting the banks.
Healthy order so that they can start loaning again and
providing that capital so that companies can grow and be
stronger and to hire people.
So we are focused on that credit problem,
and we're also looking at manufacturing especially,
and we're looking for the announcement of a high level
person I think this week who will be really helping lead the
President's and the Administration's efforts on
The President has already announced a whole host of R&D
tax credits for manufacturing, especially in the clean energy
area, so solar companies can take advantage of it.
So we are focused on that issue and have hopefully more answers
soon. But let me just tell you that we're starting to see more
solar companies operating -- or solar panel manufacturers in the
United States, like the one that I saw in Michigan.
And some of our technology is so superior that there's no way
that other countries can build it as cheaply.
Mr. Vilsack: Yes, sir.
Mr. Kalin: State Rrepresentative Jeremy Kalin from Minnesota.
And, Secretary Locke, you mentioned the role of efficiency
in manufacturing and renewables [Inaudible] and the opportunity
for [Inaudible] economies.
Will you talk about the -- how strong the Administration will
push for a separate efficiency resource standard so we don't
water down the renewables opportunity and also that issue
of preemption, so when we're allowing states that have taken
the lead, like Minnesota and [Inaudible] has benefited
greatly from Minnesota's standard, can you talk a little
bit about that [Inaudible] and hopefully the Administration
with respect the states and work we've done [Inaudible]?
Mr. Vilsack: Well, as Steve Chu would probably be in the best position
to respond to this question, but were he here,
he would probably talk to you about proposals that have been
made recently to increase efficiency standards for
appliances, to support efficiency standards and
building code revisions that create opportunities for more
efficient buildings, an effort that is underway within the
federal government to specifically make our own
buildings more energy efficient.
So I think there is an efficiency agenda as part of
this. There is also a recognition of the need to
continue to to support renewable fuel, which is what I'm
particularly interested in and I know Minnesota is as well.
You're going to see through the implementation of the farm bill
substantial amount of resource being available and a number of
programs to build new bio-refineries,
to retrofit existing bio-refineries to use second and
third generation feed stocks that are potentially more
efficient than corn-based ethanol is today.
And corn-based ethanol is becoming more efficient and will
certainly be part of the equation,
but by no means is it the full answer.
We were instructed by the President to institute the
programs within the farm bill within 30 days,
and as Gary can allude, that's not an easy thing to get through
the process in 30 days, but we did that.
We have a biofuels task force that's looking at ways in which
we can get information from states and from the industry
about how we might be able to better expand the market in
terms of automobiles, in terms of distribution systems,
putting resources behind that as well.
So there's a -- there is a whole series of initiatives here from
efficiency to conservation, to renewable energy production,
we're talking about transmission lines,
so that the wind that we can produce in the Midwest can get
to metropolitan centers where it's needed.
It's a whole host of things, but to Gary's point,
the best thing that's going to drive this is a climate change
bill that rewards those who embrace efficiency and
conservation, and basically compels us to lead this new 21st
century economy.
You all are leaders of your communities, of businesses,
of areas in the Midwest, as I understand it,
and you need to go back and basically say this is the great
opportunity we've been waiting for for a long time to turn
things around in the Midwest.
We are primed to take advantage of this, because of our land,
because of our natural resources and because of the capacity for
us to produce renewable energy and fuel.
So, you know, the key here is for people to understand the
opportunity side and not necessarily be fearful of the
cost side, because as our evaluation,
at least from a farm standpoint, our evaluation is it's a net
winner for farmers.
And finally to Gary's point, when I left office as governor
of Iowa, we actually had -- you can attest to this,
we actually had an increase in manufacturing jobs.
We lost manufacturing jobs just like every other state,
but we had a net increase. Why?
Because we had windmill factories, we had generators,
we had those kinds of things that were being produced in our
state. And that can happen in every state.
Ms. Strauss: Yes. Sandy Strauss from the Pennsylvania Council of
Churches. I wanted to ask the question about how the farm
aspect will create small farmers versus large factory operations.
Quite often the small farmers get hit a lot harder and often
aren't as well protected, so speaking from a faith community
perspective, which, you know, means we have a lot of concern
for that. What will this do in terms of small versus
large farming operations?
Mr. Vilsack: Well, I think it benefits the small operations,
because if a small operation becomes a no till operation,
if a small operation takes nonproductive land and produces
trees, if a small operation basically creates opportunities
for different approaches to livestock production,
utilizes the capacity to capture or to reduce methane.
For example, there's a small dairy operation in New Hampshire
that is working with a feed additive that will reduce
methane. That's the kind of thing that will qualify for an
offset. The challenge for agriculture in America is
for us to create income diversity. Multiple
opportunities for people to prosper, so conservation
programs, energy offsets, renewable energy production,
local production being linked to local consumption so you're not
trucking your food 1500 miles, reducing the carbon footprint,
all of that plays to the strengths of small production
operations. This is not -- this is one of those opportunities
where the big guys don't necessarily benefit
disproportionately to the small operations.
In the back, yes, sir.
Speaker: For 150 years, innovations within our economy have
culminated in the tech revolution.
The past [Inaudible] developed countries [Inaudible] in
investing in knowledge-based innovation as [Inaudible].
This region has spent -- the federal government spends
24.5 billion a year in research in this region,
doesn't even spend one-tenth of 1 percent commercializing
If you even required 1 percent of federal research to be used
for commercialization of new businesses and jobs,
you would change the society, and we do not even do one-tenth
of 1 percent.
How do we get that gap in the middle?
Mr. Locke: Well, it may not be in the bill,
but under the President's budget and his proposal for the future,
he's called for permanent -- making permanent the tax credits
for R&D, and actually increasing federal funding for research and
development in a whole host of areas.
I can tell you, for instance, in the energy -- and it gets back
to the area of energy efficiency,
it was started under the Bush administration,
but nothing ever happened, it was talking about the smart
grid, and President Obama has really championed the
development of a smart grid and actually required us to really
set the standards for a smart grid.
What is smart grid?
Smart grid is not just using technology and computers to move
electricity from one part of the region to another to more
precisely control and monitor the distribution and flow of
electricity to prevents blackouts and brownouts,
but -- and not only that, to make sure that not as much
electricity is lost in the wires during transmission,
but it's even more fundamental than that,
it is to say with technology, allowing the consumer to
control, using an Internet-based -- and your computers,
home computers, hooking up with your local utility to say that I
want my electric clothes drier to come on at 3:00 o'clock in
the morning automatically whenever -- when the price of
power is the cheapest, I want to be able to sell electricity back
to the utility company from solar panels on my house or from
my plugged-electric vehicle when I would get the most money from
my public utility.
And so the Department of Energy and especially the Department of
Commerce through our National Institute of Science -- or
Standards and Technology, we have a huge scientific
laboratory that sets standards for a lot of these devices,
whether it's cyber security, cell phones and et cetera,
et cetera.
Anyway, we are developing the nationwide standards by which
all of these utilities will have common protocols,
common standards, common technology,
as well as the standards for the devices so that all of these
device will be interoperable.
Here's one thing that states can do and communities can do,
insist that your states give your power companies the ability
to charge different rates of electricity during different
times of the day.
Congestion-based pricing, the same way, you know,
when a lot of us grew up, you know,
long distance was cheaper on Saturdays or Sundays or after
11:00 o'clock, the same thing with the early days of the cell
phones, on weekends, you know, you got so many more minutes or
long distance was a lot cheaper.
If we did that with our utility companies and they have that
flexibility to offer different rates during the time --
different time of the day, that would drive efficiency,
because then they are not having to build all of these power
plants so that everybody uses their hot water tanks and their
dishwashers and their washing machines and clothes dryers or
taking showers from 4:00 p.m. to about 8:00 p.m.
and from about 6:00 a.m. to about 8:30 a.m.,
if people would space out their use of electricity,
we wouldn't have to build all of these power plants as much as
possible, as soon as possible, and it would save the rate
payers and it encourages people to conserve by really looking at
the price, and by using this time of use metering,
it will encourage all of these companies to offer devices and
design these devices that then go on to your washing machines,
your microwave ovens, your clothes washers,
your hot water tanks, and the list goes on and on.
That's the money, and that's the investment by the federal
government that can really incentivize innovation
throughout the entire private sector and create jobs here.
Mr. Vilsack: We are also changing our research component of USDA,
we have about a $2 billion research component.
The farm bill created the National Agricultural Institute,
we've got Dr. Raj Shah who was formerly of the Gates
Foundation, he understands the necessity of entrepreneurship
since he worked for a pretty successful entrepreneur,
they are basically going to a competitive grant process,
which I think we'll see more commercialization,
more tech transfer opportunities being rewarded through that
National Institute. Yes, sir.
Speaker: Hi, my name is [Inaudible], I'm with the [Inaudible]
coalition, and what we do is we work with our local governments
to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
[Inaudible] situation right now, because greenhouse where we
live, a cooperative called [Inaudible] proposed to build
1500-megawatt [Inaudible] plants that will spew over a hundred
pounds of mercury in the air, for example.
And I appreciate you all being here today and talking about
this, because I'd like -- I want to know what is the government
going to do to help encourage companies like this to slow
down, regroup, and start focusing on renewable energies,
because frankly, it strikes us -- when you say clean coal,
to my knowledge, clean coal does not exist as far as a viable
technology. It would seem to me that the more rational approach
or a financially rational approach would be to focus on
why don't -- why don't the electric companies start
focusing more on renewable energies?
Off the coast of Virginia, we have great wind potential.
So my question to you is, in a nutshell,
what are you doing about [Inaudible]?
Mr. Vilsack: Well, I can tell you that if Ken Salazar was here,
Secretary of the Interior, he would tell you that they are
already basically trying to take advantage of the offshore wind
opportunities. The issue and challenge with renewable energy
is that it is intermittent, or it can potentially be
intermittent energy source.
And so you have to recognize that you can't completely solve
all of the problems with renewable,
it's a very important component part of it,
but it is by no means the total solution.
So I think you can't discount the need for continued research
and technology advancements in the use of more stable or secure
sources, if you will, of energy, which is why the President
continues to talk about research and clean coal.
In the meantime, if your community is interested in -- if
it's in a rural area, if it's interested in potentially
transitioning to a different power source,
we have a community facilities grant program that focuses on
biomass, which we would be happy to talk to you about,
which is one thing you can [Inaudible].
Mr. Locke? Well, that's why it's also very important that,
whether at the federal level or state level,
that you have requirements that utility companies diversify and
provide more of their electricity from renewable
sources. And, of course, the smart grid will actually enable
the transmission of electricity from far-flung parts of the
country. Electricity provided by -- generated by wind from one
part of the country to another part of the country,
transmission of electricity produced by solar, and hopefully
in the future a tidal wave and things like that, or
hydroelectric. So that's one of the reasons why we need that
smart grid, to allow for that greater transmission of
electricity from one part of a region to another.
Mr. Vilsack: And there is, I think, Grant, there is a portfolio standard or
requirement for renewable energy in the bill, so that's
another thing that will drive this, is a certain percentage of
it has to be from renewable sources.
Speaker: [Inaudible]. Thank you for coming.
My name is Kevin [Inaudible], I'm head of energy policy for
college of Democrats of America.
Recent history has kind of shown us that the health care debate
has devolved from [Inaudible].
Secretary Locke provided the example of the Maytag plant as
one example of [Inaudible] and how to sell the American people
on it. But I really haven't heard an unified message,
an unified simple message coming from the Administration yet on
how to sell the American people on energy issues.
While I don't agree with the Republicans,
they had a very simple message, which was "drill, baby, drill,"
and it gained a lot of traction during the campaign.
My question being what lessons will you learn and how can we
avoid pitfalls of having good legislation,
but being [Inaudible].
Mr. Vilsack: Well, part of that is your responsibility. Seriously.
It's important for people to be passionate about this.
It's the simplest thing in the world to knock something down,
it's a whole lot harder to govern.
I mean, the previous eight years showed how difficult it was to
govern, and we paid a price for it. Here are a couple of things
that I think are important, and this is -- I can't simplify
this because -- but think about this.
Do you want the President of the United States,
perceived to be the most powerful man in the world from
the most powerful country in the world going to Copenhagen in a
few months with nothing?
What message does that send about the United States?
What does it send about our leadership capacity?
And do you think that that's not going to have an impact on other
issues ranging from trade to dealing with extremists.
How are we going to be able to move other nations in the same
direction we want to move on trade issues or on fighting
extremists if we can't deliver on climate change when the rest
of the world is moving forward.
So it's about leadership.
It's about innovation.
I mean, Gary made a great case here,
the United States is no longer having the playing field to
itself as it did when I was a kid,
we're now competing globally, and the only way we have ever
won is by being the best innovator to this man's point.
All right?
This is all about innovation, this is rewarding innovation,
this is making innovation the answer.
Third, in farm country, it's a pretty simple message,
you want to preserve those family farms,
you want to give those folks who have small operations a shot,
you've got to diversify their economy,
you've got to give them multiple income opportunities,
and offsets is one great way to do that.
Renewable energy is a great way to do that,
and it plays to the strengths of small producers.
It puts money in the pockets, it preserves small communities and
rural life, and the value system it represents.
But you know, there are only two of us here,
how many people -- how many others or how many of you are
there? There are 100 people here today.
If you go home and you've got the same passion for this issue
that we had in the fall when "drill, baby, drill,"
last time I checked, it didn't work very well in the polls,
otherwise I wouldn't be here and he wouldn't be here.
People understood we needed change.
And we're so focused on governing that sometimes we
forget about the need for messaging and politicking,
and that's why we have asked for your help.
You are our eyes and our ears and our voice,
and you need to be able to amplify what we can do, right?
So you can go back and you can say to the college Dems,
if you live in a rural community,
this is a good thing for farmers and ranchers.
Because USDA has studied this and it is going to put money in
the pockets of farmers.
When was the last time farmers didn't think that was
a good idea? Right?
And if you're from a large community and you're worried
about American leadership, this is the issue,
we cannot let the President of the United States go to
Copenhagen with nothing.
One last comment that I'll make and then Gary can finish.
I feel really strongly about this.
And I don't want to dumb this down,
because I think it's an affront to people out there,
because I've been on -- I've been to 17 town halls,
none of my town halls have been disruptive,
because people came and they were -- with serious questions
and serious concerns, and we responded to them respectfully.
And I think, we need to basically tell the American
people we have greater trust and faith in them to make the right
set of choices and decisions, not to be swayed by fear.
We rejected fear in November, we rejected it in November,
we should not go back and say, you know, now that it's August,
we ought to embrace fear.
This country has never progressed embracing fear, ever.
And we ought to be calling this whole process on health care
precisely what it is, it's about scaring people.
And we rejected that.
But it's going to require all of you to basically say that
publicly and loudly, we reject fear,
we want to be the innovator, we want to be the leader.
And I tell you, I do not want my Canadian friends who are
competing with my farmers to be able to go into a room with
another country in a trade agreement and say, you know,
the United States the doesn't really care about climate
change, so why don't you buy our products.
You don't think that's going to happen,
you don't think that's going to affect every business that we
care about in this country?
I'll tell you folks, this is a big issue internationally,
and we'd better lead.
We've been following for far too long in this issue.
Mr. Locke: This past November was about change, but change not easy,
because any time you're moving away from the status quo,
people are uneasy and they are nervous,
and all those people who are affected by that change,
whether it's in health care or in energy or education,
have a lot of questions.
I don't know that with all the different groups out there and
the different viewpoints and the different interests that people
may have on any given issue, whether it's climate change and
energy, whether from farming to entrepreneurs to manufacturers,
to utilities, whether or not there can be a simple slogan
that answers all their questions and puts them to ease.
So each segment has different interests,
different concerns and different worries and trying to figure out
an easy slogan. I think sometimes does a disservice to
the complexity of the issue and what we're asking people to
embrace. And that's why it's so important that we have these
discussions so that we're able to answer people's questions and
get more of the facts out, and really try to ask you then to go
back to your groups, your community groups, your faith-
based groups, your business groups, your nonprofit
community-based groups to get the word out and to talk about
the very issue that you are more concerned about.
Mr. Vilsack: Time for one more time told. So way in the back, sir.
Speaker: Yes. What's is the Commerce Department's feelings on
enforceability language moving into Copenhagen in December, is
that something that the Commerce Department is going to advocate
for and hopefully installed in the next go-round of protocols
through the United Nations' framework on climate change?
Mr. Locke: Well, I think the issue, the overall question that you're
trying to ask is how do we ensure a level playing field for
companies in America.
And that's why the President has always believed in fair trade,
trade that incorporates and requires other countries to
observe the minimum standards of health and human safety, labor,
environmental issues, and human rights, for instance.
Because otherwise, if our folks are having to comply with a
whole host of conditions and other countries are not,
that puts our manufacturers, our workers at a competitive
disadvantage. If other countries are not adhering
to environmental standards or not embracing climate change and
are not having to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases,
it makes it so much easier to produce things there than it is
here, and again, puts us at a competitive disadvantage.
I can tell you, for instance, coming from Washington State,
you know, we're America's largest producer of apples,
and I know that our farmers try to do the right thing and abide
by a whole host of state and federal regulations on the use
of pesticides and herbicides, conditions for workers,
and the list goes on and on, but apples that might come into our
grocery stores that come from other countries,
I know that many of those farmers in those countries don't
have to abide by the standards, and therefore,
it makes those apples cheaper, and puts our farmers and our
workers at a competitive disadvantage.
That's why it's important that the United States stands firm
and has a very aggressive energy legislation with firm goals to
address climate change, because we cannot go to Copenhagen and
expect the developing countries to also reduce their emissions
of greenhouse gases if we are not serious.
America produces more greenhouse gases per person than any
country in the world.
More greenhouse gases her person than any country in the world.
China produces more greenhouse gases than any country in the
world period, but they have four times the population,
and as they try to grow their economies in the developing
countries, whether India or countries of Africa and Latin
America who are very poor, who need electricity,
who are going to be building power plants, I mean,
so many parts of, for instance, China and India,
most people live in the rural areas and most people in the
rural areas do not even have refrigerators.
So when they start improving their quality of life and their
income and start buying refrigerators,
that's going to require electricity,
and that means the demand for electricity will go up and the
need to generate electricity.
If we want China and India and the developing countries of
Africa and Latin America to grow in environmentally sustainable
fashion, we have got to set the example.
We produce more greenhouse gas emissions per person than any
other country in the world.
And so we have got to be serious about this,
and that's why the President very much wants to go to
Copenhagen with moral authority and leadership for the rest of
the world, that's why we need to pass this legislation,
and the President has always indicated that on trade
agreements, we have to have a level playing field to make sure
that our business and workers are protected, and, finally,
with energy legislation, it's going to create jobs of the
future. Jobs of future, good- paying jobs for Americans.
And we have an opportunity to lead the world and to supply the
world with this technology, it's a win-win situation,
raising the standard of living, the quality of life for people
around the world, while creating jobs here at home for people of
America. Thank you very much.
Mr. Vilsack: Thank you all.