This speech was presented on April 30, 2014 at the Homeland Security Congress (Crystal City Hilton, Arlington VA) by "Benedict Waterman," Undersecretary Of Policy Implemetation at the U.S. Department Of Energy. It was followed by "Bana Slowhorse's" speech.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is a great pleasure to be here, and to make this announcement here.
On behalf of the Department of Energy, I am very excited to announce that we are today beginning a process that will convert the United States energy grid into one that's powered entirely by renewable sources—and we're going to do it in only slightly more time than it took to win WWII.
The American Renewable Clean-Energy Network—AmeriCAN—is part of President Obama’s Climate Change Action Plan. It will put ownership of energy production directly in the hands of small companies, local entities, and entrepreneurs like yourselves.
It will both subsidize large facilities and ensure that every American who wants energy independence can put a solar panel on his or her roof.
Until now, Gov't has subsidized fossil fuel companies through tax breaks and direct spending, to the tune of tens of billions per year. We're excited now finally to shift the incentives to you, the people who will take us into a better, more livable, more survivable future—through your entrepreneurship and know-how. Any of you who are interested in contract opportunities, please give me your card after this announcement.
The US currently generates around 10% of our energy from renewable sources, placing us 113th in the world. By 2030, America will produce 100% of our energy from renewables, establishing us once again as a beacon of innovation and progress, and as the global leader in confronting this supreme challenge of climate change.
For one thing, it'll take a lot of land—up to 3% of total US land area. That's why we're excited to be working with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and some of the largest tribes from Arizona to the Dakotas, to site major wind and solar facilities that will provide a large chunk of America's power. Like everyone—like the companies that you're part of—the tribes will own the facilities after they're built and amortized. This will serve as reparations for past wrongs—but more importantly it'll provide an enormous stimulus to the economy, and great resilience in the face of future threats.
Resilience is one of the reasons the Department of Defense is partnering with us, under the codename Operation Second Thanks. DoD will be contributing their enormous ingenuity, their immense muscle, and funding at Manhattan-Project levels.
In WWII, in just 6 months, auto production in the US halted completely in order to produce the machinery that defeated the Germans. We've got to do that again—against this new, much more powerful enemy.
In the past few years we've begun to see a rapid increase in the frequency and severity of climate disasters, from deadly mudslides in the northwest, to epic droughts causing $150 billion worth of damage to crops, to California's dry spells, the worst in history, to destructive hurricanes all along the Atlantic Coast.
With our current energy infrastructure, we can handle this, and we can handle a Katrina or Sandy every few years; but what about when there's four devastating hurricanes every year? or entire cities have to be relocated? or this year's pandemic crop failures turn into complete food-system collapse?
What about when food crises abroad lead to instability and big conflicts, and then millions of refugees show up at our border?
If we don't convert to renewables, we'll be spending $2 trillion per year dealing with it by 2100.
We need our troops here at home preventing future wars and saving future money, not fighting for the same old resources overseas.
Another factor for the DoD's involvement is this. [Slide of protesters.] There's already been a lot of public unrest around fossil fuels. Several pipelines, including the Keystone XL, have been delayed, or stalled completely. Fracking and coal infrastructure is also being threatened by rising public outrage.
As the dire reality of climate change becomes more and more inescapable, people will take the future into their own hands, and historically we know that popular resistance is a force that can rarely be countervailed. A revolutionary energy program today is easier than a real revolution tomorrow.
America is a can-do nation. Do we want to keep being like Russia, where oil companies control gov't? Or do we want to be a true leader?
The car companies in WWII didn't decide to make tanks instead—we did.
The American Renewable Clean-Energy Network will create upwards of 7½ million jobs. It'll provide energy costs much lower than projections for fossil fuels, with much greater price stability. 59,000 Americans die every year from air pollution, and AmeriCAN will generate about $530 billion per year in health cost savings alone. It will provide unparalleled energy security and resilience in the face of the threats to national stability that climate change may still bring.
It stands to reason that as our civilization stares disaster in the face, we would turn to the source of all life on Earth, the Sun, and learn to power ourselves by the energies that are driven directly by the Sun, and turn away from the dirty intermediaries of ancient fossil materials, dredged from below at enormous expense to our world and to ourselves.
Just like the pilgrims in 1620, we've been headed for disaster. But just like the pilgrims, there is a way out—thanks to our friends. It's time for a second Thanksgiving.
And now, with that, I'm especially excited to introduce my colleague at the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bana Slowhorse. It's been a real pleasure to work with you, and I think it's fair to say we've really learned from each other. Bana!