Bob Perciasepe’s prepared remarks for the Missouri Governor’s Conference on Natural Resources







NOVEMBER 12, 2014

Thank you for inviting me here today. It’s a pleasure to be a part of your conference looking back at 40 years of accomplishments by the Department of Natural Resources and looking ahead to the challenges of the next 40 years.

I’m especially pleased to be here outside the beltway because we in Washington often look to the states to see what works in many areas of policy, including environmental policy. For example, the 1970 Clean Air Act built on state and local efforts to clean up air pollution from factories and cars. The Clean Water Act included technology standards for wastewater treatment plants that were pioneered at the state and local level. And federal solid waste laws were modeled on state programs.

Today, we’re facing new environmental challenges. The Third National Climate Assessment makes clearer than ever that climate change is taking a toll here and now, and that it poses growing risks to communities across the country — to our infrastructure, water supplies, agriculture, ecosystems, and health.

The impacts vary from region to region. What is clear is that every region faces impacts that could be costly and severe.

Here in Missouri, you’re facing some of these impacts. Major heat waves have become more frequent in the Midwest over the last six decades. By the second half of the century, parts of Missouri could see an extra three weeks of temperatures above 95 degrees. Crops and livestock will be stressed by greater heat. Water demands are likely to increase. And some pests and pathogens may expand their range.

In the face of these challenges, governments, companies and individuals will all need to act. We’ll need to determine how we can best produce clean, secure and affordable energy, how we can reduce the heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions that are altering our climate, and how we can adapt to the climate changes we already face.

What I want to talk to you briefly about today is: how cities and states are already leading the way to a clean energy future, how EPA’s Clean Power Plan will foster more innovation, and how public-private partnerships can play a pivotal role in addressing our energy challenges.

Cities and states are innovating right now – to encourage clean energy and energy efficiency and foster investment in clean technologies. At the state level, we’re seeing tremendous policy innovation:

·      10 states have carbon trading programs. That means more than a quarter of the U.S. population lives in a state with a price on carbon.

·      25 states have standards to encourage the efficient transmission, distribution, and use of electricity.

·      31 states, including Missouri, have standards for utilities to deliver a certain amount of electricity from renewable or alternative energy sources.

·      45 states, including Missouri, have net metering programs to provide a financial incentive for small businesses and homeowners to install electricity generation, such as solar panels.

Cities, too, are leading the way. Kansas City, Missouri, has just embarked on a three-year initiative to promote energy efficiency in large commercial and institutional buildings. The city’s past efforts have included using technology to cut energy use in government buildings. For example, the city saved nearly $50,000 annually in electricity at just one parking garage.

All of these actions, of course, help the environment. And it’s important to point out they also help the economy. Energy efficiency and clean energy are some of the biggest economic opportunities of our time.

Here are a few examples of the economic benefits we’re already seeing or could see:

·      According to a University of California-Berkley report out this week, more than 15,000 new jobs have been created in California over the past five years from the state’s solar energy boom.

·      New York estimates that by 2020, its Energy Smart program to improve efficiency and advance renewables will increase the state’s economic output by more than $13 billion.

·      The nine states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative have already seen more than $240 million in savings from investments in efficiency and clean energy.

The Clean Power Plan will foster more innovation at the state level. And state successes will inform eventual action at the national level — as it so often has.

Let me briefly explain how this will work. The Clean Power Plan proposal to reduce carbon emissions from power plants sets targets based on each state’s capacity for action using four measures: making fossil fuel power plants more efficient; making more use of existing natural gas plants; using more zero- and low-emitting power sources such as renewables and nuclear; and finally, reducing electricity demand, for example, by encouraging energy efficiency in our homes and offices.

States will have a lot of flexibility to meet their target. They can mix and match different policies, lean more on one policy than another, or invent new ways to promote cleaner energy – whatever works best. Some states may choose to combine efforts with their neighbors and act regionally to improve the efficiency of their policies.

What’s especially important is that EPA’s proposal gives states plenty of room to use market-based approaches, which are the best way to get the job done at the lowest possible cost.

The Clean Power Plan isn’t final yet. EPA issued the proposal in June and is taking comments from states and a wide variety of stakeholders through the end of the month. In June 2015, EPA plans to issue a final rule. States will then have a year (or two, if they get an extension) to submit their plans, which EPA will then have to review. States will have 15 years from now to reach their goals.

It may seem like a long process, but states are already thinking about steps they’d want to take to reduce power plant emissions and encourage clean energy and energy efficiency. For example, Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality has put out a white paper on potential strategies for reducing emissions — including increasing energy efficiency and renewable energy, switching some power production to natural gas, and using carbon capture and storage.

Here in Missouri, you’re already working on a comprehensive energy plan for the state. You’ll be looking to other states to see what has worked for them. And other states will also be looking to you as a leader.

There’s an almost bewildering array of clean energy and energy-efficiency policies and technologies to choose from. I spoke at a construction conference last week to companies that have pushed the envelope of energy-efficient, green buildings through internet-connected temperature sensors, LED lighting, and even nanotechnology.

One of the best ways to harness the creativity and innovation of our companies and the creativity and innovation of our cities and states is to work together — through public-private partnerships. That’s the final thing I’d like to talk to you about, because I see bringing diverse interests together as a key to our clean energy future. For example, the insurance industry can partner with governments to identify and quantify risks. Government can partner with construction and technology companies to increase the energy efficiency of our buildings.

One example of a partnership right here in Missouri is the PACE program that started in St. Louis last year. The program gives homeowners and owners of commercial, industrial and multi-family properties access to affordable, long-term financing for smart energy and efficiency upgrades.

A number of states are exploring clean energy banks that can leverage limited public dollars to attract private capital for investment in clean energy and clean transportation initiatives. Last month, New York’s Green Bank announced its first $200 million had catalyzed $600 million in private investments, including for small-scale combined heat and power units for hospitals.

We’re also seeing innovative partnerships developing at the energy-water nexus. For example, in Texas, CPS Energy and the San Antonio Water System have partnered to cool the city’s power plants with wastewater, ensuring the city has enough water for power generation even in a drought.

We live in challenging times and, as your know, “challenge” is just another word for “opportunity.” Now, as in the past, our cities and states are the incubators of innovation. We need to encourage this innovation, encourage states to share what they’ve learned, and encourage our leading innovators in the public and private sectors to work together to find pragmatic solutions.

The steps our cities and states have taken in recent years to encourage clean energy and energy efficiency — and the steps they will take in coming years — will help us all get to a clean energy future.


And that will be good for our environment and our economy.