Bill Clinton on Energy & Oil
President of the U.S., 1993-2001; Former Democratic Governor (AR)
The surest way to create jobs, cut costs, enhance national security, cut the trade deficit by up to 50%, and fight global warming is to change the way we produce and consume energy.
America has enormous capacity to generate energy from clean sources & to improve efficiency; our large number of entrepreneurs, innovators, and financiers committed to a clean-energy future; and federal investments and tax incentives. The progress in wind energy is particularly impressive. On a windy day in Texas, wind power can spike to 25% of total generation. The annual costs of solar and wind is almost nothing but the up-front costs are high. Building owners should be able to offset for the cost of retrofits with savings they will realize from lower utility bills.
Launch an aggressive, 50-state building retrofit initiative: Recently, the Empire State Building in NYC completed a comprehensive energy overhaul. The project put 275 people to work, doing things like changing the heating and air-conditioning system, putting new, more efficient glass in the windows; and installing new lighting.
The retrofits should start with the buildings sure to be in use with the same owners for 5 to 7 years--schools, government buildings, college campuses, museums, libraries, auditoriums, hospitals, and big commercial buildings. If we just did the schools, colleges and government buildings, we could keep a large number of construction workers busy for a couple of years.
To speed up the process, we should pick one or two US states or territories and work to make them completely energy independent. Nevada could do it, with its enormous solar and wind capacity.
The Danes generate almost 25% of their electricity from wind, have biomass (waste-burning) power plants, and high home efficiency standards, including triple-paned windows, more insulation, heat pumps and solar panels. The Danish economy expanded by 75% with no increase in fossil fuel use.
A: Iíve actually changed my view on this a little bit. Because even though Al Gore and I did help to develop the Kyoto Protocol, and I strongly supported it, I said at the time I thought India and China should be a part of it at a more graduated level. I still think they should do it, and they should do it for themselves. If you develop in the old-fashioned way, there are enormous costs [from air pollution, water pollution, and so on]. And while I believe that America should go on and adopt a cap and trade system and join with the Europeans and Japanese--because I think itís a big economic boon to America--I think that if we donít get the Chinese and the Indians in the system, we canít stop global warming.
Most man-made CO2 emissions come from burning oil and coal. Most methane emissions caused by humans come from landfills and agriculture, though increasingly methane is being released from long-frozen tundra as a result of global warming.
So far, our nation has refused to take serious action on climate change.
Lovins argued that, over a period of decades, America could wean itself off fossil fuel completely and do so not by curtailing economic growth but in a way that would increase it. Lovins helped me argue that Arkansas could meet its future energy needs through greater efficiency at far less cost than the proposed nuclear plant entailed.
The conversational, commonsense crowd thought we were both nuts, but I knew he made a lot of sense and understood the details of how energy could be used and consumed better than those who dismissed us.
We lost the battle--Amory has lost a lot of them over the years--but finally he may be winning the war for a clean, progressive energy future.
In 1992, the largest group of world leaders in history met in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in what became known as the Earth Summit. Pres. George H.W. Bush and others called on the world to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions by 2000 at the 1990 level, especially CO2. The US and other nations ratified this convention. Importantly, Bush negotiated an agreement to allow developing nations to be excluded from the restriction, since industrialized countries are the overwhelming contributors to the troubling emissions.
[In 2001], newly inaugurated Pres. George W. Bush announced that the Kyoto agreement's mandatory reductions in greenhouse gases and short timetable would be too expensive and unwise when the US was facing energy problems.
To speed innovation in these kind of technologies, I think we should give a major tax incentive to business for the production of clean energy and to families for buying energy-saving homes and appliances and the next generation of superefficient cars when they hit the showroom floor. I also ask the auto industry to use the available technologies to make all new cars more fuel-efficient right away.
And I ask this Congress to do something else. Please help us make more of our clean energy technology available to the developing world. That will create cleaner growth abroad and a lot more new jobs here in the United States of America.
With all the tinkering to satisfy special interests, "I don't think I can get it through my committee," Sen. Moynihan said. The committee would accept some kind of gasoline-tax increase instead, but Moynihan said he was aware that Clinton had opposed a gas tax in the campaign.
"Oh, I wasn't opposed to a gasoline tax," Clinton said, reframing his position a little. "I was opposed to the size." Sen. Paul Tsongas (D, MA), he said, had wanted too large a gasoline tax.
Modernize Environmental Policies
National environmental policies, mostly developed in the 1970s, have been remarkably successful in improving the quality of our air and water. But we face a new set of environmental challenges for which the old strategy of centralized, command-and-control regulation is no longer effective.
The old regime of prohibitions and fines levied on polluters is not well equipped to tackle problems such as climate change, contamination of water from such sources as farm and suburban runoff, loss of open lands, and sprawl. Without relaxing our determination to maintain and enforce mandatory national standards for environmental quality, it is time to create more effective, efficient, and flexible ways of achieving those standards.
For example, a system of tradable emissions permits would give factories, power plants, and other sources of air pollution and greenhouse gases a powerful incentive not only to meet but to exceed environmental standards. Decisions about solving local environmental problems should be shifted from Washington to communities, without weakening national standards. Finally, to empower citizens and communities to make sound decisions, government should invest in improving the quality and availability of information about environmental conditions.
|Other past presidents on Energy & Oil:
|Bill Clinton on other issues:
George W. Bush(R,2001-2009)
George Bush Sr.(R,1989-1993)
John F. Kennedy(D,1961-1963)
Harry S Truman(D,1945-1953)
Past Vice Presidents:
Natural Law Party