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Pelosi Remarks at “Good Jobs, Green Jobs” Conference Luncheon

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks at the “Good Jobs, Green Jobs” conference luncheon.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:

“Thank you very much.  Thank you all very much.  Good afternoon Blue Green Alliance, gathered together for good jobs, green jobs – sounds like a great agenda, doesn’t it?  A wonderful purpose for coming together.  Thank you, David Foster, Executive Director of Blue Green Alliance, for your leadership in making all of this possible.  Yes, thank you for acknowledging that I received your award, which I proudly display in my office.  I know that Randi Weingarten will be having a presentation after this, and it’s an honor to be here with her.  Ray LaHood, oh my, wasn’t that a great presentation?  Didn’t that make you very, very proud of what the possibilities are for public-private partnerships, a public role in preserving our planet, creating good jobs, green jobs.  I know I missed Leo Gerard, he was here this morning, while I was on Capitol Hill.  But what a great leader he has been, in the labor movement and beyond, and beyond. 

[Applause]

“His mantra of ‘good jobs, green jobs,’ is one that resonates.  Now, he’s in Canada, and he’ll be back – he’s just all over the place.  Whether it’s personal, local, global – national, global, Leo Gerard is there.  What a champion he is.  And, Michael Brune from the Sierra Club, what a truly new generation of leadership on this really, very important issue, in order to honor our responsibilities to future generations; to have a voice for future generations so effectively in the lead.

“I’m honored to be here with each and every one of you.  I particularly want to acknowledge Carolyn Bartholomew, who for a long time was my, one of my Senior Advisers, and she has brought that public experience into the non-profit sector.  I’m very proud of her leadership.  When she called about the opportunity, this opportunity to be with you today to my attention, I was absolutely thrilled personally, as well as officially.

“Well, we all know that we come, gather today in a sad time for our country, for families in Boston, for families all over the country who are gathered in Boston.  Words are inadequate to console the loved ones of those whose lives were lost, those who were injured, but our words in the form of prayers, hopefully, will be of comfort to them.  We will do what we can to care for them.  We will pray for all of them.  We will offer our support, as Americans and as people, but – and as Members of Congress – we will ensure that justice will be done, as our President has said.

“Ok, now, as we look into the future, I’m reminded of the British historian, Arnold Toynbee, who in his study of civilizations, the story of history, has said that the fate of civilizations was determined by the response that civilization had to challenges that it faced.  I think many of us in this room believe that one of the greatest challenges of our generation, that we face, is the threat of climate change.  We’ve seen, whether it’s Sandy, or whether the droughts and the rest, the clear evidence that something is happening.  We know scientifically, that human behavior has had an impact on that, the speed of that climate change, or the pace of that climate change.

“Your formula today – good jobs, green jobs – not only protects our environment, it grows the economy.  So, we do two things at once.   We recognize our responsibility; we see it as an opportunity.  As President Obama declared in his inaugural address, which perhaps before I got here, the distinguished Secretary LaHood mentioned, he said, President Obama did: ‘We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.’  We like that solemn declaration.  As stewards of the world around us, we are ready to respond; we are prepared to act, and we are here to ensure a cleaner planet and a healthier future for generations to come.  And to do so we are here to promote good jobs, green jobs.

“There is no doubt, as I mentioned, that this is our responsibility.  But it is also an exciting, a very exciting opportunity.  With the need for action comes the chance to innovate – to grow an economy with good jobs, green jobs – I keep saying it – that’s resilient to the impact of climate change and runs on the energy of clean, renewable energy.  For years, a coalition of labor – a magnificent coalition of labor, environmental, academic, and business leaders, many present here at the Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference have been at the steering wheel – guiding our country toward a future of prosperity and accountability.

“Consider what’s happening in Iowa, where a thriving wind industry is creating renewable energy and thousands of jobs for the state.  I saw also, firsthand, in Minnesota, when I went there some years ago, we were seeing the future, with all of the use of wind and renewables in that state, and looking, of course at my home state of California, which I’m very proud of, where our green sector is advancing – alright, let’s hear it for California.

[Applause]

“Minnesota, Iowa, all of us – in California, where our green sector is advancing, diversifying, and growing clean energy jobs every day.  The Golden State is now the most efficient and least carbon intensive economies in the world.  The most efficient and least carbon intense.  I was at the California Democratic Party convention this weekend and I saluted the state Chairman, John Burton, who passed this legislation through the state senate, to make this so for us.  We also recognized that shortly after it became the law, there were forces from outside of our state – big fossil fuel interests coming from outside of the state, to overturn it with an initiative on the ballot.  One of your guest speakers, Tom Styer, helped us very much to resist that, and then put his own initiative on the ballot.  So, we’re fighting this every step of the way.  And, again in California, the initiative process is one place where, if we have disclosure as to who is paying for the initiative, we can defeat all of these initiatives that are anti-clean energy.  And not only, bragging about my own state, and others that I mentioned, Americans in 29 states are reaping the benefits of renewable energy standards that encourage cleaner air, deliver a more resilient infrastructure, and spur long-term economic growth.  This is the fruit of your labor.  Thank you.  This is how we as a nation are beginning to build a sustainable future.

“But the path of the future must always run through the United States of America.  We have to do more, and we have to do better.  Right now, China is outpacing the U.S. in clean energy investments, increasing support by 20 percent last year.  That still makes them a net emitter because of all of their development, but nonetheless, the recognition must be given to what they have done.  Last week, I had the opportunity to visit with the Vice Chairman of the Ministry of Energy from China; he’s really the leader on this sector of the challenge and I had met with him a few years ago, with our Select Committee on Climate Change and Energy Independence, headed then by Ed Markey.  We met with him there, it was a very difficult meeting, it was a very difficult meeting.  Why I mention that, is because this meeting last week, was a very different meeting.  I think the recognition that more needs to be done, is an accepted fact.  I think that the consequences of doing less than we all can do are obvious.  Certainly they are in China, in terms of the air people breathe, the state of water, the encroachment of the Gobi Desert – you know, so many things.  But I had a good meeting with him, and I just told Secretary LaHood on his way out, my way in, that when Secretary – Chairman Xie, ‘X,’ ‘I,’ ‘E,’ was here last week.  He said to me; ‘when you were in China, a few years ago, you told me that in California you would have high speed rail.  So, are you going to have it?’  And I was very proud to say: ‘Yes we are, yes we can, yes we will.’  And I said that was because of the leadership of the Obama Administration.  The initiatives that the Administration has taken; and I know that Secretary LaHood spoke about all of that with pride.  We could not have done it without our state and national cooperation to pass the bills through the legislature.  But the funding, a good piece of the funding, coming from the Treasury, here, as well as issues on the ballot in California. 

“So, we’re really very, very proud of that because we see it as, again, preserving our planet, promoting commerce, moving people, using the value of time in a much more effective way.  We see it as the wave of the future, and as I told everyone working on it; our hopes are riding on you.  Pun intended.  We can’t be falling behind.  Now is the time to create a national, renewable energy standard, and lead the world in securing a 21st century economy.

[Applause]

“Now we did pass one in the House of Representatives, many of you helped us and I thank you, and just to bring it up again for those who may not be aware, that when President Bush was President, House and Senate were controlled by the Democrats, we were able to work together in a bipartisan way to pass the biggest energy bills in the history of our country, the energy bill of 2007.  President Bush wanted nuclear energy, we wanted renewables, just so long as they were sort of on par, I said: ‘For every dollar that you commit for nuclear, whether it’s a guarantee or whatever, we want the same for renewables.’  We were able to come to terms to pass that legislation.  It was significant in terms of conservation and efficiency – Mark, he said it was like taking millions of cars off the road.  And it was.  We did pass in that bill, the café standards to reduce the emissions, and that was, it had for 32 years, there had been attempts made to pass that café standard legislation to reduce emissions and we were able to do so in a bill signed by President Bush.  We did have a renewable energy standard bill that passed the House, but when it got to the Senate it, it had the majority but we couldn’t achieve the 60 votes.  That doesn’t mean that it isn’t essential for us to continue to fight for it because it makes all the difference, and as I said, a number – 29 states are reaping the benefits of renewable energy standards.  We have to have a national standard to do that, so we have some more work to do. 

“Under President Obama, and so many of the things that President Obama is able to do, administratively, some of that springs from that same bill that was passed then.  But under President Obama, happily, we set new fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks so that – as has been mentioned by the Secretary, by many of the speakers here, by 2025 drivers will be saving money, saving time, reducing emissions, and strengthening our security by making our country less dependent on foreign oil, and some of, as I say, of that authority springs from that energy bill of 2007.

“Now we must go out there and out-compete and out-innovate countries across the globe, we know we have to do that, we must invest much more right here at home.  You know that, that means investing in our nation’s infrastructure; roads, bridges – but, you know, that infrastructure is important, but also taking us to the, a next stage in transit systems, railroads, and water systems – some of our water systems are made of brick and wood, does that sound [like] something you want to drink, brick and wood.  And so we are way behind, trillions of dollars behind in our deficit and infrastructure and it’s about transportation infrastructure, it’s also about health infrastructure, it about, it’s about broadband and it’s about the future, as well as how we build broadband.   That means, again, that this is a top priority for us, for the Democrats – not to be partisan, but for the Democrats, and that is a core building block of the President’s budget: making a $50 billion commitment to rebuild America.  Thank you, President Obama.  I know that the Secretary went into many of the other details, perhaps of the budget, but of the policy of the Administration, turning crumbling infrastructure into beacons of clean energy, all of this done in a clean energy way, fresh start, innovation, as our opportunity, will create good-paying jobs – good jobs, green jobs – cut down on inefficiencies and carbon emissions and protect communities from extreme weather damage.

“But that’s just the start.  We must also enact our Democratic ‘Make It In America’ agenda, to reinforce our manufacturing base, pursue a national manufacturing strategy, and bring jobs and innovation back to our shores.  Yesterday, the Obama Administration expanded the wind energy protection, production tax credit to help ensure that more and bigger wind projects get off the ground.  This is really a big deal.  However, we must make sure that the wind turbines spinning across the globe are proudly marked: ‘Made in America, ‘Made in the U.S.A.’  You know that tax code, when they talk about reforming the tax code, we must be ever alert because there are white hats and black hats in that reformation and these tax credits for renewable energy are the white hats in that discussion.  And some of the white hats are also low-income housing tax credits, and capital markets tax credits for affordable housing, which are all going down the path of sustainability because that’s a very important place for us to affect climate change in a positive way and how we house the American people. 

“We must support clean energy innovation, helping key stakeholders invest in research and development of new technologies that will set and help us achieve new renewable energy standards.  Again, we must Make It In America so that families in America can make it in America.  If we are to face the challenge – as Arnold Toynbee said: ‘a society is measured by how it faces its challenges,’ if we are to face the challenge of climate change and determine the fate of our civilization, we must seize the opportunity before us.  When President Kennedy announced his initiative to explore the heavens, to send a man to the moon and back in ten years, he said this: ‘the vows of our nation can only be fulfilled if we in this nation are first, and therefore, we intend to be first… our leadership in science and industry, our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort.’  It was true then of that initiative, it is true of our need to protect our planet.  My kids frequently say to me: ‘Mom, when you’re always quoting President Kennedy, it really makes you sound like you’re from another era.’  Well, I will just say this, because it was my era, when I was in school President Kennedy was an inspiration to us.  And I’ll never forget the letter that President, that Senator Kennedy sent to President Obama, delivered to him at the end of Senator Kennedy’s life.  He said: “When I entered elected office, we had a new young President in the White House, who gave hope to people throughout the world, representing a new generation of leadership.’  He went on to say: ‘Today, we have another new, young President in the White House, giving hope to people throughout the world, representing a new generation.’  So, these two Presidents are an inspiration and so when I talk to them about my generation, and we see when I was a student, and we see what President Obama, we see the values that run true through our country. 

“Today, leaders of science and industry and labor, in this room, of men and women willing to make the effort, we all must do what we can to keep America number one, to rise above the gathering storm and to build a future founded on innovation.  Together, we can ensure that we’re the first to deliver a future worthy of our children and future generations, and as President Kennedy said: ‘honors the vows of our founders.’ 

“Thank you, Blue Green Alliance for your leadership, for your partnerships, for your dedication, your partnerships among you.  There are all kinds of – feel like a kaleidoscope out there; I see all different groups that operate on all different levels, together at one time or another, all coming together in this beautiful array – blue and green primarily – to ensure that we are first.  Thank you for your leadership, for your partnership, for your dedication to confronting and overcoming the challenges that face our civilization.  Thank you all very much for the opportunity to be here today.  Thank you.”