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Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Remarks at the EPA Climate Leaders Meeting, As Prepared

As prepared for delivery.

Thank you all for being here today, and for leading the way in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to a low-carbon economy. This partnership represents our country’s largest greenhouse gas goal-setting program. It’s an excellent example of industry and government coming together to tackle the shared challenge of climate change. I’m glad for the opportunity to continue the great work being done here.

Climate Leaders has grown from 11 charter members to over 275 participants. We have partners in sectors from manufacturing to defense to retail – with combined annual revenue equal to 12 percent of GDP. Working with EPA, those companies have reduced greenhouse emissions by an estimated 18 million metric tons of CO2 each year. That alone is reason to celebrate this program. But there is another excellent benefit as well.

The list of companies who met greenhouse gas reduction goals last year is a list of household names: Anheuser-Busch, Bank of America, Exelon Corporation, First Environment, Gap, Public Service Enterprise Group, Raytheon, Roche Group, Shaklee Corporation.

Almost everyone in this room has had some form of contact with one of the companies on that list. So – in addition to reducing GHGs and fighting climate change, Climate Leaders are sending a message about changing the ways we do business in this country and around the world. Your example is demonstrating that the tired old choice we’re always presented with – between our economy and our environment – is a false choice. And that is starting to take hold all across the economy.

For the fifth straight year we’ve seen declines in the average fuel economy for cars and light trucks. American car buyers are looking for vehicles that burn cleaner, burn less fuel, and aren’t going to burn a hole in their wallets. Because they remember last year, when we were looking at $4 a gallon gas. They don’t want to be in that position again.

EPA’s Energy Star program just passed an important milestone with the designation of one million Energy Star homes built in the US. 1 million American families can now save hundreds of dollars a year on their energy bills and keep harmful pollution out of the air. We’re going to keep the number of Energy Star homes growing, because we know that American homebuyers are looking for efficient, cost saving, and environmentally sustainable homes.

We also know that clean, American energy has the possibility to create millions of jobs for American workers – jobs in everything from manufacturing to installation and maintenance to research and development. Throughout the economic fluctuations of the last decade, one consistent bright spot has been the growth in clean energy jobs. Between 1998 and 2007, 37 states saw clean energy jobs outperform overall jobs. Several states saw clean energy jobs grow at double the rate of other jobs. Tennessee and Iowa added clean energy jobs at seven times their overall rate…South Dakota had a clean energy jobs growth rate an astounding 19 times higher than overall jobs.

To name just a few examples of energy investments in the Recovery Act: 1,400 jobs through solar projects in Florida, 2,600 jobs in wind energy development in Michigan, 3,000 jobs to build a solar plant in California. These are good jobs that can’t be sent overseas. They employ local workers, and they help to build a strong foundation for future growth. And the transition to clean energy that is being sparked today is essential to our economic security and our national security tomorrow.

The President has called for America to get in the race. We want to catch and surpass the solar panel leadership Germany now holds. To catch and surpass Japan in manufacturing hybrid cars. To catch and surpass China in the production of wind power.

As many of you have seen in your own experience, there are real dividends to be paid in increasing energy efficiency. A recent McKinsey study estimates $1.2 trillion dollars through 2020 if we invest $520 billion today. That’s $2 in savings for every dollar invested in efficiency. And we’re seeing some incredible possibilities there. In London, they recently replaced the exterior lights at Buckingham Palace with high-efficiency LED lighting. Today, lighting the entire fašade requires less energy than it takes to run an electric teakettle.

Some believe we can get the results we need with the status quo – by simply ramping up the domestic supplies of existing energy sources. But we’ve been down that path before. In 2001 we saw an energy plan focused on fossil fuels. Supporters of the plan pledged that it would lower fuel costs for consumers and businesses, and reduce our growing dependence on foreign oil. But it didn’t work. It didn’t work for our security. It didn’t work for our environment. And it certainly didn’t work for your businesses. By 2006, crude oil prices were up 143%. Gas prices had gone up 71%. Natural gas was 46% more expensive, and dependence on foreign oil had increased to 65%. I ask you, how did that affect your business?

And simply increasing our use of domestic fossil fuels did nothing to reduce pollution in our air. It didn’t help millions of American children who suffer with asthma. It didn’t allow smog-choked cities to eliminate air pollution that doubles the risk of premature births. Nor did it do anything to reduce the prevalence of cancer and other diseases linked to toxic pollution.

Compare the two options we have: On the one hand, the dirty burning fuel supply we use today has only gotten more expensive. It has damaged the health of our kids and our communities, and it resulted in billions of American dollars being spent overseas each year, rather than keeping that money here in our own economy.

On the other hand, clean energy technology has created jobs. As market share has grown and technology improved, the cost of clean energy has continued to go down. And it has put us on a course towards improving our national security, our environmental sustainability, and our economic competitiveness.

In broad terms, clean energy jobs are up and costs are down. With fossil fuel, costs are up, and the money we pay for that fuel is increasingly sent to other countries. The question is: which of those two paths do we want to follow for our future?

Leadership from the business community is essential to our success in protecting human health and the environment, and I am very happy to count you as partners in this work. We share a vision of billions of dollars in new economic activity, and millions of new jobs – created at the same time that we cut harmful emissions and free ourselves from dependence on foreign oil. We share a vision of clean, cheap energy that moves products, runs factories and keep business in motion; an energy supply that isn’t tied to non-renewable capacity or foreign supply lines, and isn’t subject to price jumps that can stop the economy in its tracks. We share a vision of new jobs at all income and experience levels, from lab researchers and venture capitalists to maintenance and service technicians. We see revitalized jobs in manufacturing and a reborn American auto industry. And we share a vision of a nation where economic development and environmental protection go hand in hand. Where the business community and the environmental community can move forward together – promoting public health and welfare – rather than holding each other back.

In the next decade, companies like yours are going to make energy efficiency and environmental impact a core component of their business models. You are ahead of the curve. You are pioneering change, and proving every day that the environmentally sound thing to do is also the economically sound thing to do. And with international climate talks coming up in Copenhagen, climate legislation moving on the hill, and President Obama’s commitment to meaningfully address climate change, the companies participating in Climate Leaders are wisely preparing for the future. We are happy for the opportunity to partner with you. Thank you very much.