On Wednesday afternoon I addressed the Council on Competitiveness National Energy Summit & International Dialogue.
I was cheered to here Senator Mark Warner precede me at the Summit by reminding everyone that energy transformation is not a burden; rather, it is an opportunity. Transforming America's energy use will be a huge jobs creator and wealth creator for the next 25 years.
Now, the transportation sector accounts for nearly 1/3 of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, more than 50% of nitrogen oxide emissions, and almost 75% of our petroleum consumption. We need to change that profile-–and soon.
This will give the transportation sector the flexibility to work out the best combination of new technologies, new energy sources, and better operating procedures to efficiently and effectively reduce emissions while meeting the transportation needs of all Americans.
- The CARS--or Cash for Clunkers--program, based on the cars traded in, improved fuel economy by 60%.
- DOT and EPA have announced a proposed rule setting aggressive new fuel and emission standards for cars and light-duty trucks, expected to conserve 1.8 billion barrels of oil, save the average consumer more than $3,000 in fuel costs, and increase fuel economy by 5% a year.
- DOT, HUD and EPA have created a Livable Communities partnership to coordinate federal investments in transportation, housing, air quality, and water infrastructure, helping to reduce our carbon footprint while ensuring Americans have more housing choices near transit and greater access to jobs and vital services.
- Through the Recovery Act, DOT is revitalizing Amtrak and making historic investments in new high-speed, inter-city passenger rail service in key corridors around the country.
- For the first time in DOT history, we’re making $1.5 billion available for creative, intermodal projects that promote livability and sustainability in cities and towns across America.
- We’re taking a hard look at the best way to prioritize freight movement to minimize cost and energy while improving safety.
- Through our Marine Highways program, we’re looking at ways to move cargo from trucks onto barges traveling on our under-utilized waterways, wherever it makes sense to do so.
Our bottom line is clear. We need to keep our economy moving, and keep America growing and innovating-–but we’ve got to find new, more sustainable ways of doing it.
Look, we’re talking about transforming this country in ways we have not considered in a very long time. But, as Senator Warner said, that's a good thing. And, we don't exactly have a choice; our ability to compete and sustain our quality of life really depends on it.
I can promise that this DOT is--and will be--doing its part.