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Senator Harry Reid's Clean Energy Summit 2
Majority Leader Reid Calls for Green Revolution
Former Vice President Gore & Senator Reid
Nobel Prize Winner Gore & Senate Majority Leader Reid Call for Green Revolution

President Clinton's Chief of Staff John Podesta
John Podesta of the Center for American Progress Action Fund


By Lisa J. Wolf, Correspondent

August 11, 2009


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, John Podesta of the Center for American Progress Action Fund and the University of Nevada Las Vegas hosted the second National Clean Energy Summit August 10 and were joined in Las Vegas by Former President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore; Secretary of Energy Steven Chu; Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis; Assistant Energy Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Cathy Zoi; Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington; Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; United Nations Foundation President Tim Wirth and Energy Executive T. Boone Pickens.


Podesta framed the Summit as helping to bring forward policy ideas to “speed and ease transition to a clean energy economy and how in doing so we can spur private investment, save consumers money, and put Americans back to work in steady jobs that pay a living wage, provide good benefits and can’t be shipped overseas.” Podesta hoped that ideas engendered at the Summit will enhance this Fall’s Congressional debate on clean energy and global warming pollution reduction policies.


Podesta said, “We’ve learned in our past meetings that clean energy infrastructure works best when it works together. Electric cars can use electricity created by wind turbines and solar power. A smart grid can efficiently bring renewable electricity from points of generation in deserts and plains to points of consumptions in cities and towns; efficiency in renewable electricity standards that effect the price on carbon pollution can create the incentives for sustained private investment that can jump-start American production of clean energy technology and the clean energy technology industries of the futures.”


Podesta foresees that with “supportive federal policies, huge shale gas newly available because of American know-how and technology” can “replace old dirty coal powered plants, dramatically reducing global warming pollution and natural gas can supplement wind and solar energy to solve the intermittency problem that comes with renewable energy. Finally, a green bank can provide secure affordable financing to get new technologies off the ground and into the marketplace.”


Podesta saw President Obama as understanding “this fundamental point: all the elements of a clean energy economy rely on one another. That’s why he’s made transforming our economy to a clean energy base so central to economic recovery.”


Podesta noted the House recently passed comprehensive clean energy legislation that creates a market for renewable energy while the Senate is “crafting a smart, practical bill" that “lays the groundwork for this transformation.” Podesta noted that the report released August 10, “Rebuilding America” shows that “retrofitting 50 million homes and small commercial buildings could create 625,000 sustained jobs in construction and manufacturing; and save consumers up to $64 billion in their energy bills. To reap these rewards, we need new policies to help the market work and capture the benefit in jobs, investment and consumer savings.”


Podesta said the Summit was proposing policies to “take advantage of the recent capacity to tap our enormous shale gas reserves” which Podesta characterized as a potential “global warming game changer because gas could provide relatively cheap domestic low carbon energy to provide electricity and power in heavy-duty busses and other fleet vehicles.”


Harry Reid began by saying of UNLV, “We are known for producing great athletes, but we are going to be known for producing great scientists. That’s so important and this University is moving into a new sphere in the Academic World.”


“It was on August 10, 1776 the word reached London that the Americans had drafted the Declaration of Independence. The Revolution that followed set our Nation and the World but especially our Nation on a long journey towards prosperity and global leadership. Today August 10th here in Las Vegas we’re firing the first shots of a new revolution to regain that prosperity and restore that leadership: a clean energy revolution that will create millions of jobs across America and thousands of jobs right here in Nevada. We dedicate this year’s Summit to creating new good jobs, good paying jobs that can never be outsourced.” Reid sees “new jobs in construction, manufacturing, and engineering, new opportunities that will reverberate to countless other industries in our country and will lower every American’s energy bill” by “promoting rapid investment in energy efficient buildings and technology. We harness the power of the sun, wind and water all around us. We will not only strengthen our environment and national security, we’ll turn around our economy so it can recover and flourish once again. But just as this crisis was not created in a day, recovery will not happen overnight. So we must begin. If we do not start today to create the jobs of tomorrow, those jobs will surface on other shores.” Reid said “Will we innovate, invest and invent? We already trail other countries in the global economy, places that we should be leading.”


U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
Harry Reid Leads the Green Energy Revolution in the Senate

Reid recalled the Congress of 1982 when “a frightened newly-elected Congressman from Nevada had been assigned to the Energy and Technology Committee and we went there for organizational activities of that committee; and a young man came to me and said, ‘I’m Al Gore from Tennessee. I have gotten permission from the Chairman of the Committee” to “form a new subcommittee.’ He said all the other people have been running to those established subcommittees. You get on mine, and we’ll have a good time; and I followed the suggestion and we had a good time. We looked at stuff that no one had looked at before.  We looked at FEMA. We looked at the future of jobs in America. We looked at transplants.” Reid spoke of  the “beginning of a journey of these many years of developing one of the most wonderful friendships that could exist on this earth. I have so much respect for Vice President Gore that it is hard to convey this to the people here.” Reid remarked, “How fortunate we are to have a man that has won a Nobel Peace Prize, an Emmy and an Oscar: my friend, Al Gore.”


Gore said it was great to be back in Nevada and Las Vegas and recognized that Reid “is leading the United States Senate and legislative branch of government in our country towards repowering America.”


Gore reflected on recovery being planned in Nevada by telling a story from Tennessee: “Over 60 years ago, Albert Einstein and one of his colleagues wrote him a letter saying that it was possible to create an atomic bomb and the German Reich was close to it they feared and we needed to really get busy and save ourselves and so President Roosevelt invited in the Majority Leader and the Speaker and the two Chairmen of the Appropriations Committees, House and Senate, and laid out these facts; told them how urgent it was,; how important it was to keep it completely secret. It was going to take a lot of money but the nation’s survival could well be at stake.”


“The Majority Leader said, ‘Mr. President, our Country is at stake. Of course. We’ll put it in there but we’ll hide it.’  The Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee said, ‘Mr. President, the future of all civilization may well ride on this decision. Where in Tennessee are we going to build it?’ And a little place called Black Oak Ridge became Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and when the scientists informed the leaders of our country that we need a renewable energy revolution to save our climate and a national smart grid and efficiency and all the measures that we’re talking about here, he didn’t say it out loud but I could see him thinking it: ‘where in Nevada are we going to build it?’ Now I know the answer: at the University of Las Vegas and other places in Nevada.”


Gore sees “lots and lots of good jobs in this effort to Repower America” and  has “spent the last two years conducting now 32 so-called solution summits delving very deeply into every aspect of this and I am more convinced than ever that we have all the tools that we need to solve 3 or 4 climate crises. We’ve only got to solve one; but we can do it and of course we must do it. And President Obama made a down payment on his promise to do just that in the Recovery Act back in February with historic national investments in energy efficiency, alternative energy, a new advanced smart grid, public transportation, high speed rails and all of the rest. So we are on the move. The House of Representatives took another historic step with passage of the legislation that not only puts a cap on the pollution that causes global warming but puts in place real incentives for energy efficiency and the development of alternative no-carbon and low-carbon energy sources across our economy that create jobs and improve our national security; and now the Senate is prepared to take up climate and energy legislation this Fall in advance of the global treaty talks in Copenhagen in the first twelve days of December.” Gore recognized that the leaders “gathered around this table had been very vocal and energetic in moving an agenda in what is in the interests of all Americans.”


Nobel Prize Winner Gore Speaks Inconvenient Truths
Gore calls on American public to wake up to climate threat

Gore explored the 3 U.S. crises: “Our national security is threatened by our vulnerability to the oil reserves centered in the Persian Gulf” as the decline in the pumping rate from the 800 largest fields has been going down much more rapidly than had been predicted a few years ago. Gore noted there had been no transparency or candor in the status of the oil reserves and “we’re piercing that veil” and “it’s very clear that this roller coaster of oil prices going up and down and when they go way up we say, ‘We’re going to take control of our destiny and we’re not going to let them do it to us anymore’ and they come back down again and we just relax again. President Obama referred to that pattern as going from shock to trance: we get a moment of alarm and urgency, and then the prices go back down and we just relax again.” Gore “doesn’t think we’re going to make that same mistake this time around.” Regarding the economic crisis, Gore said while the credit crisis is easing, “unemployment is at unacceptable levels” and “we need a national effort to prime the pump and get the economy going.”


Gore counseled, “We’re going to have to come to grips with the fact that the climate crisis is threatening the future of our civilization and just because those words sound shrill is no excuse for not saying them. We have to face up to this. We’re putting another 70 million tons of global warming pollution in the thin shell of our atmosphere surrounding our planet every 24 hours.”


Gore said, “This is madness. We owe it to ourselves and especially to our children and grandchildren and future generations. Who are we to make a decision to just keep on being so wasteful and destructive in the teeth of the warnings from every single prestigious scientific organization on this planet? Every single national academy of sciences in the world has endorsed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report saying we have got to act on this. If our kids years from now say, ‘Didn’t you notice that the entire north polar ice cap was melting in the summer of 2009 in just a few years time? Didn’t you care about that? Didn’t you notice these storms? Didn’t you notice the 1000 year droughts, the 500 year floods, all of the rising sea levels, the trees dying all across the American West?  What were you all doing? Watching ‘American Idol,’ or what?’”  


Gore said, “Sooner or later we’re going to have to wake up and really take this on for what it is: this is our generation’s mandate, mission, and responsibility and thank goodness that Harry Reid is where he is and that he’s brought us all here together to make some more steps in the right direction. And thank goodness so many business leaders are getting so deeply involved in this.” Gore said, “I feel pretty strongly about this. We’ve got to solve this. And we’ve got to get moving.”


Former V.P, Gore with Reid, Podesta, Pickens
The Green Team Educates the Public on the Benefits of a Green Revolution

Dr. Keith Schwer of UNLV noted current unemployment in Clark County, population 2 million and home to Las Vegas, is 12.3 percent compared to the national rate of 9.4 percent. He noted that in 1900 there were 17 people in Las Vegas while in 2000 there were 2 million, and in the 20th century Nevada was the fastest growing region in the United States which Schwer attributed to entrepreneurial spirit, the coming of the railroad and Boulder Dam “which opened up water and electricity” and began government development. Schwer saw the third stage as the development of the Las Vegas strip. While there were 25 years of prosperity the last two have shown “that things are changing.” With change “how do we look at the future?” Communities grow with the “growing of the export base” and “import substitution. Regional economies are driven by what they sell,” explained the Doctor. Nevada has “been selling recreational services, tourism and mining” and needs “further development to iron out what will surely be increased cyclicality going forward in time based on our economic structure.”


He saw energy as addressing import base and export substitution. “Nevada is blessed with renewable energy” which will “become our export base” as “Nevada will be exporting energy,” facing issues of “storage and distribution” which the Professor characterized “as roadblocks along the way” and said “there were always issues that had to be dealt with.” As Nevada grows energy he saw the state no longer being subject to energy supplies from hostile foreign governments. The Doctor noted that even as jobs in the horse and buggy industry died out, the auto industry created new jobs and counseled courage in facing change in the job sector.


The University of Nevada Las Vegas Hosts Summit
UNLV intends to be world leader in Clean Technology

Sec. of Energy Calls for 2nd Industrial Revolution
Secretary of Energy Dr. Steven Chu Advises Retrofitting America for Renewables & Energy Efficiency

Secretary of Energy Chu said, “The United States has an incredible opportunity. We have to have a second industrial revolution. The first industrial revolution gave us power that relieved us of human labor and animal labor but it came with a cost and we only realized in the last couple of decades what that cost was. Well, there are many costs but certainly the carbon dioxide cost. So in the next industrial revolution we’re going to have to develop technologies that will enable us to get the energy we need to grow and prosper, the entire developing world to grow and prosper, but with greatly reduced, essentially reducing and eliminating the carbon dioxide.” Chu said the US has “inarguably” the greatest research and development centers in the world in universities, national labs and the private sector. “Once we get this great invention machine geared and going we’d be invincible. But the only trouble is let’s get it going.” Chu just came back from China whose leaders have realized the price of oil will be higher in a couple of decades and they’re importing 60% of their oil and recognize “we’ll be living in a carbon-constrained world” and realized with climate change “that business as usual” will be devastating to China and the world and that China is “gearing up” to lead in the industrial revolution and “are going heavily into solar” and are “leading the world now in the highest voltage transmission both A/C and D/C” for “internal consumption” and intend to “be the leader.”


Chu said, “Quite frankly the United States is still ahead of China and why don’t we be the leader?” Chu said, “If we move in this direction, we can be the leader and seize the opportunity. If we don’t and just try to say, ‘No, we’re not really sure this is all happening’” and “’maybe the climate isn’t really changing’” that’s “wishful thinking and it’s just throwing away this great opportunity.”


Chu said, “We can take the leadership role” but “you have to send first a long-term signal to the people of the United States, to industry, that says ‘yes’ we’re going to have a cap on our carbon, and we’re going to ratchet it down.” Chu feels using agricultural waste and crops grown for energy need cause no competition between food and fuel. Chu noted that 75 million acres went out of production and 36 million acres went into conservation reserve as the U.S. paid farmers not to produce. Chu sees grasses and rapidly growing trees as an opportunity for bio-energy. “The United States has been blessed with so much. We still have the land, the sun and the water. With climate change, business as usual, much of our agricultural machinery, is at risk.  So, here’s a golden opportunity. The cost of inaction is horrendous: both for our economic prosperity and what climate change can do. So there are two choices: we grow prosperous, we do the right thing, our children and grandchildren will like us or we can pretend things aren’t happening and wish that we were back in 1950.”


MGM Mirage Answered Call for Green Revolution

Former General Wesley Clark
General Clark warns of danger of oil dependence

Former General Wesley Clark noted the U.S. imports 12 million barrels of oil every day and burns 140 billion gallons every year. T. Boone Pickens said “When we’re using 25% of oil in the world and we’re 4 percent of the population” the price will become high or be cut off and “have a very sad ending to it.” Pickens envisions 6.5 million trucks using natural gas would cut U.S. OPEC dependency by 2.7 billion barrels. Pickens sees this as possible in less than 10 years.


Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington remarked, “When you have an oilman from Texas saying that you need to get off of oil, I don’t think you need any bigger mission statement than that.” Cantwell mused, “If America doesn’t understand that, I don’t know how you can say it any plainer.” 


Cantwell remarked that energy is “a $6 trillion market. It is, if you will, the mother of all markets.”


Pickens Warns of Consequences of Energy Dependence
T. Boone Pickens Advocates US Energy Independence

Secretary Maria Cantwell
Secretary Cantwell Notes When Oilman Says Get Off Oil It Must Be Time

Gore noted a commitment to going to scale in alternative energy will bring cost reductions. “If we had a national commitment to renewable energy we would have the available cost effective technology right now.” Gore said, “We have invented most of the key technologies in renewable energy” and “to be the world’s leader,” manufacturing needs to be located in the United States.


Gore said, “We still have an old way of thinking about electricity and it’s dominated by the central station generating plants, coal fire, gas fired and nuclear always connected in real time to the users” which “led to an idea that it was a natural monopoly” that “led to the co-evolution of the fossil fuel bio-generating plants and the regulatory model that protects the revenue of the utilities, and they are not bad people for goodness sake, but it’s a legacy system, and that old way of thinking has now been made obsolete by a wave of new technologies, new investments; the grid is so creaky and vulcanized and obsolete, it is ridiculous.”


Gore noted that next year China “will link their southern, northern and central regions and they have a national plan to have an 800 kilovolt unified national smart grid all over China and they plan to be the world’s leader in that infrastructure by 2020. Well, you know we’ve been that, too, in the U.S. The first power plant was turned on April 4, 1882 by Thomas Edison in lower Manhattan and by the end of the 20th century the National Academy of Engineering did a survey of the entire century” and found the greatest “engineering achievement of the 20th Century was the electricity transmission and distribution grid” not internet or the highway system.


Gore gave the example of “large industrial users that make a lot of heat during the processing” that can “recapture that heat and generate electricity on site” and “can use the heat for other productive purposes” but “in many jurisdictions they are prevented from doing that. It is effectively against the law in many parts of the United States to be efficient in the use of this new energy. It’s absurd.” Gore said, “The average coal-fired generating plant, 65% of the energy in the coal is just wasted and vented into the atmosphere. They’re just not interested in the heat.” Another “10% is lost in these transmission and distribution lines because they’re so old and they get congested and the power goes up and down” leading to a $200 billion economic loss from unplanned outages and failures. “2/3rd’s was lost not to industry but to business and they didn’t even count the homeowners.” An estimated $1 trillion was lost in 2008 in productivity gains “we could have made if we had the kind of modern electricity grid and generating system that we need.”


Gore said mandated renewable energy works and explained, “We need a price on carbon because carbon is invisible, tasteless and odorless and we’re dumping it into the atmosphere as if it’s an open sewer and, because we can’t see it, it falls prey to the old saying, ‘Out of sight, out of mind.’ If we get a price on carbon then all of a sudden the advantages of natural gas over coal become crystal clear; the advantages of electric vehicles over the internal combustion engine become crystal clear.”


Gore spoke about appliances: “It takes more electricity just to run electrical appliances in American homes that are turned off than the entire energy use of the nation of Japan. That’s how much we use. It’s ridiculous.”


Gore said, “This wastefulness and inefficiency is just ingrained; and it has become a way of life. The good news is when we make these changes” people “will make money, they’ll save on their energy bills, will create jobs swapping out the windows and light bulbs and all the rest.”


Gore said, “We need to not only change the lights and windows; we need to change the laws and policies” that “govern the incentives.”


Nobel Peace Prize Winner Al Gore
Former Vice President Continues to Stand for the Earth and Future Generations

Van Jones of the White House Council on Environmental Quality called clean energy “a common ground agenda we should be able to come together on as a country” because “the values that underlie this clean energy conversation” are “the common ground values of America: clean air is better than dirty air for the health of our children. That’s common ground. That’s why we need clean energy. We have been blessed in this country with so many resources: conserving them, saving them, treating them with wisdom and respect is better than wasting them.”


Jones said, “If we have the opportunity to fight both poverty and pollution by putting people to work in these new industries, we would be wise as a country to do that.” Jones said that is “why this Administration is so committed to energy efficiency. We think this is the most fiscally-conservative thing we can do with the federal dollars.” The dollars invested in energy efficiency “are humble, hard-working dollars. They work double-time, triple-time, quadruple-time. If you take a worker who right now needs work” and “you give that person the opportunity to stand up and become an energy efficiency specialist” that “dollar just cut unemployment” and when that person installs clean insulation and does the work of improving homes it “is going to cut someone’s energy bill” and will also cut pollution “because a coal fired power plant is working overtime because our homes are so leaky and waste so much energy;” but if “we can cut that energy bill by 30%” and “the pollution by 30%” and cut greenhouse gas emission it will “help us take asthma inhalers out of little girls’ and boys’ pockets.”


Jones said conservatives should like the answers “because we’re not talking about expanding welfare; we’re talking about expanding work. We’re not talking about expanding entitlements; we’re talking about expanding enterprise and investments. We’re not talking about redistributing existing wealth; we’re talking about reinventing an existing sector and creating new wealth by unleashing innovation and entrepreneurship.”


Jones said, “We should be able to stand together and be one country on this” and that’s why the Administration “has $5 billion on the table, up from $200 million last year in 2008, $5 billion on the table this year to cut energy bills for low income people by unleashing a tidal wave of energy efficiency workers in our economy.” Jones said that’s why “GSA has literally billions of dollars to retrofit our government buildings. That’s why HUD has billions of dollars in our Recovery package to cut energy costs for public housing.” With “our Recovery to Retrofit program” 13 different federal departments and agencies “stand together for the first time” because this is “the fruit on the ground. There is so much work that needs to be done in this country to retrofit America to cut these energy bills and there are so many people who need work. This is our opportunity as a country and it comes along very rarely to take the people who most need work and connect them to the work that most needs to be done to fight pollution and poverty at the same time and be one country. Let’s be one country.”


Michael Yackira Speaks of Benefits of Green Energy
Photo courtesy Clean Energy Summit

Michael Yackira, CEO of Nevada Energy which produces energy for 95% of Nevada said the company’s energy supply strategy includes energy efficiency, development of renewable energy and building traditional power plants as cleanly as possible and building transmission lines to move that power around the state and plans to “execute a new paradigm in the utility industry in smart grid technology.” Yackira believes “smart grid technology is the game changer for our industry” and the company is “seeking a $138 million grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act toward an approximate $300 million investment in smart grid technology” that “will convert the whole state.” Yackira said “customers state-wide will be able to take an active role in managing their energy use.” Yackira said the smart grid ensures “energy resources are used wisely in the state” and estimates 200 jobs would be created from the development of the smart grid. Yackira said, “500 megawatts or 9% of our energy comes from renewables right now” as a result of legislation requiring an increase in Nevada Energy’s renewable portfolio standard to 25% by 2025. NV Energy is also investing money in state universities “to develop renewable energy engineering curriculums” at UNR and UNLV.


Gore asked Yackira about the waste in coal fired power plants that are losing 65% of their energy. Yackira said, “We don’t have many coal fired stations,” that 70% of NV Energy’s power is being made through natural gas that utilizes the “technology considered best today” capturing waste heat from large jet engines and gathering steam and creating another cycle of electricity. 



Secretary Hilda Solis
Secretary Solis Believes Green Revolution Can Put Americans Back to Work

Labor Secretary Solis said, “Too many people are unemployed” and she wants to change “that preconceived notion that green jobs are not for everyone or that people don’t even know that they exist.” Solis in visiting 29 large cities and 3 other countries said, “People are looking for the U.S. to pick up the torch and begin again to be a leader in energy efficiency, renewable energy” and “that everyone as a stakeholder” should know “the Obama Administration” wants “to make sure the Stimulus monies made available reach all farthest parts of our country whether it’s in rural America, inner cities, suburbia or places where they’re still not internet savvy.” Solis said the “Green Revolution” can “encompass everyone regardless of your educational attainment level, literacy level and skill level.”


Solis said, “It’s not just an 18 month recovery funded effort” but will cover “2 or 3 decades” and “sends a strong message to global partners who have to know that we want to work with them” and “let 3rd World Counties we’ve left behind also share in our innovation and technology.” Solis intends to “make sure that everybody’s boat is lifted.”


Thompson Calls For Federal Renewables Portfolio
Danny Thompson, Executive Secretary/Treasurer of the Nevada State AFL-CIO

Danny Thompson, Executive Secretary/Treasurer of the Nevada State AFL-CIO, said in February in the 18 building trade unions within the AFL-CIO in Nevada, unemployment in the Reno area was running 30 to 35% and by May unemployment was 50% and rising. In Southern Nevada unemployment is running in the high 20’s and once the City Center is completed, the bridge over the dam and the airport, “there aren’t any big jobs. We used to complete a job here every 20 seconds.” Thompson said, “It’s critical we do everything we can to create jobs. Not just in Nevada, but everywhere.”


Thompson called for a portfolio standard on the federal level “both for renewables and efficiencies on all federal projects,” noting “federal public works are going to be the jobs of the future because today the private sector is in the toilet.” Thompson said in Nevada “the opportunity for jobs is not just in the construction and operations but the manufacturing piece represents 70 to 75% of the opportunity.”


NV Majority Leader Says Nevada 'Open for Business'
Nevada State Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford

Nevada State Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford said the Nevada legislature “during the last legislative session worked so hard to lay the foundation for this new energy economy” and Horsford said, “We leveraged the resources from the Federal Recovery Act” to provide training opportunities and “a career ladder for people who want to move into this new economy and to really jump-start the creation of renewable energy and renewable energy standards” that enables trained people to retrofit public buildings and schools and to work in the development of new projects. Horsford said the legislature prioritized a Distributed Generation mandate to be phased in and asked the Public Utilities Commission to implement decoupling and created a Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Authority headed by a State Energy Commissioner to position Nevada to remain the Nation’s leader. “Nevada is open and ready for business,” said Horsford.

Terry O'Sullivan Wants to Put People Back to Work
Terry OSullivan, General President of the Laborers International Union of North America

Terry O’Sullivan, General President of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, with 500,000 members, said, “There’s 1.6 million construction workers out of work in the United States” but the Stimulus bill has “put people back to work” and lowered the national unemployment rate from 22% to 17.4%.


O’Sullivan said, “If it’s not greening the environment, then it’s not a good green job; and if it’s not putting green in worker’s pockets, then it’s not a good green job.” Regarding the $5 billion allocated for the Weatherization Assistance program to weatherize a million low-income housing units over the next 12 to 18 months, Sullivan pointed out in the 30 years of the program 140,000 homes have been weatherized per year although 38 million homes are eligible for weatherization assistance and over 100 million houses in the country need to be weatherized and to do that over the next 10 to 20 years “we need to build the kind of capacities that will allow us to weatherize 5 million, 10 million homes per year. Right now we don’t have the contractor base or the workforce.”


Sullivan said, through the Departments of Energy and Labor, training monies are there to put people back to work. “In our Union, the building trades, we ‘build America;’ that’s what we say and we want to continue to build America” and “want to put construction workers back to work, and we want to put minorities in their communities back to work.” O’Sullivan said the $5 billion is “a test” because “100’s of billions of dollars” are needed “from the private sector to accomplish what we want to on the residential weatherization front which will create 100’s of thousands of good jobs requiring responsible contractor policies” that include living wage provisions and ensure that “workers will get benefits and end up having a career” and “not a fly by night job” and can “end up retiring and live a middle class way of life.” O’Sullivan said, “This is a golden opportunity for us to clean our environment and put people back to work” and “to make sure the President’s vision of green jobs being good jobs is truly a vision and a reality.”


Former President William Jefferson Clinton
President Clinton Calls For Job Solution for American Workers

Former President Bill Clinton said, “It is worth remembering that the least sexy topic is where the most jobs are” and noted “the American Council for Energy Efficiency” said of the greenhouse gas reductions can be accomplished by efficiency investments, leading to savings for consumers and businesses on the order of $2 trillion.  A $520 billion investment could cut U.S. energy end use by 23%. “That’s more than Canada’s total consumption” and “enables us to do what Robert Kennedy recently suggested. If we close 22% of our coal plants that are old and uniformly quite small we could save or more of the emissions coming out of coal plants in the U.S.Clinton said “all this because while something has been done in a country that just lost 7 million jobs, we’re still just playing with this.”


Clinton noted that “on balance every billion dollars we invest in a coal fired power plant creates 870 jobs; in photo-voltaic cells, 1800 jobs; in solar thermal plants, 1900 jobs; in wind energy, 3300 jobs. Every billion spent on building retrofits is 6,000 jobs.” Clinton said, “But we are still piddling with this. We need to figure out how to do this on a national scale and show how it can be done on an international scale.” Clinton’s Foundation was asked to help 40 big cities on 6 continents work on building retrofits.  Clinton asked all “to think about what we can do to really seriously take this to scale and in the process get rid of the terrible job losses we have sustained in this recession.”


Clinton has been involved in a plan to retrofit the Empire State Building built in 1931 “in the teeth of the Depression” which will cut emissions by 38% and the annual electric bill by $4.5 million and will cost $33 million and pay off in 7.5 years and the energy bills will be $4.5 million a year lower forever. “A lot of jobs will be created and it’s the equivalent of taking about 19,000 cars off the road but it’s peanuts: we just lost 7 million jobs.”


Former President Clinton Gives Economic Solutions
Former President Advises How to Move Forward

Clinton said, “If we want a good bill we have to convince people that this is an economic winner. If we want China or India to participate,” people have to be convinced “this is good economics.” Clinton has concluded the main reason people argue against this and solar and wind “is the total absence of parallel financing; and the fact that all the costs are upfront and the benefits spread out; but you know if you want to go borrow the money to finance your own home’s retrofit it’s fairly expensive; and you probably can’t get a loan for more than a year or two, maybe 3 at the outside.” Clinton espoused, “The best solution of all clearly is nation-wide decoupling with a requirement that utilities finance this. That’s clearly the best solution of all because then you can pay for this over 20 years.”


“$520 billion sounds like a huge amount of money” but “the last time I checked about 2 months ago the banks of the U.S. had more than $900 billion in cash to date uncommitted to loans.” Clinton said, “Some banks find it more economical to foreclose” because “you get fees when you foreclose and you get fees when you turn around and resell” because “people are still reluctant to loan.” Clinton suggested creating a Small Business Loan Guarantee Program so “you could then go to a bank and say you should renovate the local hospital” because “a guarantee fund stands behind that.”


Clinton pointed out, “If we’d done it for the $18 billion that was appropriated in the Stimulus Bill we could have financed $180 billion worth of building retrofits, and you do the math: instead of 100,000 jobs you’d have over a million jobs. The President says to get this economy going you have to generate 3.5 million new jobs. The Congress has to worry about the deficit. There’s $900 million in cash in America’s banks today available for loans uncommitted.”

Former President Clinton Wants to Unlock Banks
President Clinton Makes Cogent Suggestions

Clinton said, “We’ve got to find a way to unlock that; and so I will say again my recommendation is we either try to get some money out of Congress or try to use the money already available to the States to set up an SBA type loan guarantee program and then get all these energy service corporations back to doing what they do well.” Clinton said, “You’ve got to get the banks involved in this if you want to quit piddling around. We don’t need 625,000 jobs gradually building over 10 years. We need 3 million more jobs today” and “prove to the American people we can get the 80% reduction by 2050 while growing the economy not shrinking it. The low hanging fruit is the simplest but least sexy thing: fixing what we’re doing now and becoming more efficient.”


Clinton said the third best alternative is funding local initiatives that put the consumer “in the just say ‘yes’ position” such as homeowners paying off retrofits on their property tax.


“Let’s give some way for the American financial system and the American enterprise system to begin to work again to prove this is good business” and noted there’s “7 million Americans dying to go to work” and “millions more are working less every week than they want to work and countless numbers of others that aren’t in the unemployment numbers because they’ve given up looking for jobs.” Clinton said, “Don’t be satisfied with doing 40% of our buildings over 10 years. Let’s do them all over the next 5 years and put millions of people to work and prove this is the right thing to do.”



Gore said, “If we continue on the road we’re now travelling the global warming pollution will accumulate to the point where we’re in real danger of it spinning out of control and becoming a very different planet than the one on which human life emerged and much less the one on which human civilization developed. If we take the other path soon, we have an opportunity to avoid that and to solve many problems that have been lingering far too long.”


“Politics plays a role.” Gore said people who put a “little poison into the political bloodstream by yelling that President Obama’s not an American citizen and then show the birth certificate” is “very similar in some way to the refusal to actually accept what the scientific community is telling them.”


Gore noted that the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, “’Everybody is entitled to his own opinion; but not everybody’s entitled to his own facts.’ The means by which a free self-governing people arrive at a sufficient agreement on what’s most likely to be true, seek out the best evidence, discuss it in good faith open to arguments” and “then we can disagree about what the proper response is but there are too many who have looked over the horizon at what the responses might be and if it challenges an incumbent industry” then “their reaction is to hold the facts at arms length and refuse to acknowledge the facts. We have to come to an agreement here in our country that facts are facts and that the scientific evidence is what it is.”


Gore said, “We all should be optimistic but we have a lot of hard work to do. We are not there yet and the key challenge is going to be this Fall in the U.S. Senate in passing legislation proposed by President Obama.” Gore said everyone can make a difference “because the people have the most powerful voice” and called on the public to “get involved and fight for our future.” Gore said, “Political will really is a renewable resource.”

Reid said he “will not satisfied with an energy bill unless it has a strong component regarding transmission.” Reid said, “During the last few years we have built over 7,000 miles of natural gas pipeline” and built “less than 600 miles of power lines.” Reid said, “It’s obvious we need to do something to change that.”



Gore said while people fear the shift towards renewable energy from coal and gas “will raise energy bills, “the one guaranteed way to raise our energy bills is to do nothing because the rate of new discoveries for oil is declining” and “the rate of production is declining twice as fast as they predicted” while “the demand goes up” globally meaning  the “prices will go sky-high.” Peak oil was reached in the U.S. around 1970 said Gore and Boone Pickens said peak global oil production was reached in 2006. “The nations that have prepared for the future and enabled and empowered themselves to shift over to energy resources they can control, that are within their own purview are going to be the most competitive in the world. Even though China’s buying up all this oil, that’s why they’re building their national smart grid, and developing solar, wind and all the rest,” Gore explained.


Pickens noted, “We flat-lined in 5 years at 85 million barrels” and said, “We’re declining at 7 percent a year, 6 million barrels a year decline.” Pickens asked Gore whether as he meets with other countries whether the rest of the world complains “about our using 25% of all the oil with only 4% of the people?”


“Well, yeah,” answered Gore and the audience laughed. “They say the same thing as I say here; we’ve got to quit doing that and get on with renewable energy and our own domestic resources.”


Pickens said, “If you don’t think it’s going to go up you’re kidding yourself.” Pickens said, “We will be importing 70% of our oil and I promise you it will be $300 a barrel; so we’re fools to continue to rely on resources that are one time resources and if they fail they’re going to tell you, ‘we’re not going to use up all our resources for you.’”


Gore said, “The instant gratification, live in the here and now, don’t worry about the future, much less those who come after you” attitude “is part of the problem. The generation of people alive on this planet has an obligation that no previous generation has ever had.” Gore harked back to General Bradley and the poverty and degradation after World War II and the Marshall Plan. At that time, “General Bradley said, ‘It is time we steer by the stars and not by the lights of each passing ship’ and if you look at the overnight public opinion polls” or “the next quarterly earnings report, those are the passing ships.” Gore said, “This is not a problem confined to homeowners stretched for cash” rather “some of the most successful business leaders are slaves to this short-term every 90 days horizon.” Gore repeated, “This is the time for us to steer by the stars and for us to look over the horizon” and not “what’s on television two hours from now. We have an obligation to steer by the stars.”


Gore recognized Reid’s leadership, “and what you do every day on the floor of the United States Senate is inspiring to me and we’re awful lucky to have you where you are.”


Reid closed the Summit by saying, “The last three months we’ve been working on health care legislation in Washington. Right now 1/6th of every dollar we spend is on health care. There’s no argument with the fact if we don’t do something by the year 2020, that’s 11 years from now, 35 cents of every dollar we spend will be spent on health care.”


Reid said during the last few months “special interests” are saying “’you’re trying to kill old people. People who are handicapped won’t be able to get help.’ Whatever they say is the direct opposite; but the American people through this loud megaphones out there of talk radio, the blogosphere and cable TV” hear “all these misapprehensions, misconceptions and lies and the American people are afraid. Now let’s move forward what we’re going to work on before the year’s out which is energy legislation. The same applies to that as applies to health care. Health care is something that we must do. Energy legislation we could spend all day explaining why we must do it; but there are people out there who want to maintain the status quo because it’s good for their pocketbooks and they’re going to do everything they can to stop legislation from passing even if it’s based on outright lies, innuendo and rumor. The people in this room from Nevada and around the country have the power to speak out how necessary it is that we overcome the special interests in this country and that we do the right thing: that we become a people that is governed by the will of the people; not the will of special interests.”


Reid noted John Podesta “has the opportunity to make a fortune” having been the President’s Chief of Staff and a law professor and instead chose to go into public service.


Reid remembered going to Al Gore’s office in the Senate and seeing the chart on the wall going to the ceiling showing the rise in CO2 emissions. “This is something he’s devoted his life to. Boone Pickens could be in his personal jet going around the world having a good time; but this 81 year old man has decided he wants to try to change our country for the better.” Reid called on people to also be devoted “and speak out against these people who I describe as ‘evil-mongers’ who are trying to take our country away from us.  That’s what this conference is all about is changing the direction of our country and the world for the better of the American people.”


Reid told the press when President Obama was elected one of the first issues was stopping the world wide Depression and “we did the best we could and we did it with the help of Republicans. We could not have done it without 3 very courageous Republicans.” Reid “is convinced that was one of the best things to happen to our country because it put us on the road to doing something of a lasting nature with renewable energy.” Reid said, “We’ll never be a secure nation unless we do something about lessening our dependence on foreign oil.”


Reid characterized himself as a capitalist and said, “America is the center of capitalism in the world. With health care no one’s trying to make this a government run system. With energy reform we’re not trying to make this a program that is going to be taken over by the federal government. If you look at energy though you have to recognize that government’s been heavily involved in energy from the beginning that’s why you have in states regulated monopolies that control in virtually every state the distribution of electricity and natural gas.”


John Podesta, Harry Reid and T. Boone Pickens
Harry Reid & Allies Stand United for America's Future

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