Richardson calls CAFE increase 'inadequate,' urges stronger bill than Lieberman-Warner

In his first major speech since ending his campaign for the presidency earlier this year, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) addressed a recent Pew-sponsored event on climate change. During today's E&ETV Event Coverage of the speech, Richardson comments on the brewing congressional climate policy debate, urging Congress to implement stronger standards than those proposed in the Lieberman-Warner bill. Richardson reacts to the EPA's controversial decision to deny a California waiver to regulate global warming pollution from motor vehicles and comments on his future political career, including a possible vice president selection for the 2008 elections.


Eileen Claussen: Upon nominating Governor Richardson to the energy post President Clinton remarked, "If there's one word that comes to mind when I think of Bill Richardson it really is energy." Well, Governor Richardson is still all about energy. He's made New Mexico a leader on energy and climate action by establishing a statewide greenhouse-gas emissions reduction target, by having an ambitious renewable energy standard, by signing into law a strong energy efficiency bill, and by playing a key role in the establishment of the Western Climate Initiative. So, a man for all seasons, a man for all reasons, it's great to have you here governor and we look forward to hearing what you have to say.

Bill Richardson: Thank you. Thank you, Eileen. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I haven't had such great applause since I got out of the presidential race. Eileen, thank you very much. Thanks for your leadership on environmental issues while we were together in the Clinton administration. Thanks to the PEW Center, to all of you activists, doers, government, NGOs, it's great to be here.

As I said, I haven't given a major speech since I got out of the race and started growing my beard, so I'm a little out of practice. But I wanted to take this opportunity to speak to you especially after almost an hour ago. I got into this argument with the head of EPA about the clean cars decision and I was basically, as you know, New Mexico has joined several states in suing the EPA.

This is a states' rights issue. This is a clean air issue. And my question to the EPA administrator, who's a nice fellow, however, I said to him, "After you lose this lawsuit will you just stop and let us do it at the state level or will you appeal again?" Needless to say, he didn't answer the question. But the nation's governors are here. Clean energy is a big issue obviously.

We just had a meeting with President Bush, all the 50 governors, and energy came up again. The same words were talked about, but as you know, you know the issue well, nothing really ever happens. Yeah, I know an energy bill passed. I felt that the 35 mile per gallon was totally inadequate, that we should go to 50.

I felt that the failure of a renewable portfolio standard, once again, is shameful. And one of the messages that we're bringing forth with the governors is one that you know well, and that is the most innovative energy and environmental policies and climate change policies are taking place at the state level in the absence of any kind of federal leadership.

You know, I recently wrote a book called "Leading by Example." It's a best seller among my staff. I want to thank Ned, who's over here, who had a big part in writing it. Please give Ned a nice hand, Ned Farquhar. He's the League of Conservation Voters chairman of the Renewable Transmission Authority in New Mexico.

But I just basically said what is maybe preaching to the choir, that the next president has to take the issue of climate change seriously. And it can't just be, you know, this is one of our top 10 priorities. It's got to be a state of the union priority up front with a goal that involves, in my judgment, an Apollo program.

You know, the Apollo issue, the whole national goal is used, in my judgment, many times not sincerely. But I do believe when we talk about climate change and energy security we're talking about not just cleaning up the planet, we're talking about national security. We're talking about competitiveness. We're talking about national unity.

And the world's ecological state is at hell. America's economic strength and competitiveness are at stake too. And what we need is a comprehensive, bold approach to energy, to energy security and to climate change. We need to re-engage internationally to bring the world along with us and that means not just China and India, but the entire developing world.

And what is a bit disheartening are the statistics that you hear about the number of dirty coal-powered plants that are being built in China and India with no end in sight. And an America that basically says, you know, we're still studying the issue of climate change, but, at the very least, we're not going to have a major effort to address it.

I think Eileen mentioned in our state, like many other states, we've tackled the climate change issue head-on. We have a renewable portfolio standard of our own, which is right now 15 percent and it goes to 20 percent by the year 2020. A nationwide standard can and should be even higher.

We created, as I mentioned, the nation's first Renewable Transmission Authority so we can deliver our bountiful wind and solar energy to other states. And we just adopted very strong energy efficiency standards requiring utilities to achieve a 20 percent reduction by 2020 and we're encouraging efficiency everywhere by investing in weatherization, new technologies.

We eliminated taxes on hybrid cars. We built the first commuter rail link between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. This was another issue that we talked with the administration, the administration when it comes to transportation. I always felt that every administration in the past, all we do is put money into these big highway bills, more pork and more pork, rather than looking at light rail and smart growth and efficient forms of transportation or land-use policies that make sense.

In the course of the campaign I went to the nation's major cities, Las Vegas, Nevada, one of the early Western primary states. For years Americans have been going to Las Vegas to escape the pollution and the traffic congestion of the East and the West. And you know what the biggest issue in Las Vegas, Nevada, is, its traffic congestion.

And so what we have our transportation policies that, in my judgment, are just exclusively earmarks for pork, for policies that, as a nation, are ill serving not just our transportation needs, but our environmental needs too. We were also, in New Mexico, the first state to require proposed coal plants to evaluate gasification as a best available technology.

After that, one coal plant proposal was withdrawn two years ago. And today I'm fighting against conventional coal technology and for carbon control and disposal technology at the Desert Rock plant on the Navajo nation outside New Mexico's permitting jurisdiction. In other words, as a nation, we ought to have 60 percent mandated carbon sequestration.

That is my view. That is, I believe if we're going to be serious about climate change, and I believe we have the technology to make that happen. I like to compete with the governor of California for who is the clean energy state. When I'm in the same room with the governor I say California, because he is bigger than I am, but when I'm not with him I say that our state has been has been the clean energy state.

You know, I mentioned that our tax credits have been one of the most innovative renewable energy businesses in the world. We've attracted many in the last year. Two of the most advanced manufacturers of solar energy technology are now based in New Mexico and are expected to generate over $1 billion in revenue for our state.

And this is a sore subject with Governor Schwarzenegger. Tesla Motors went from California to New Mexico to start building electric cars in the next year or two, cars that are going to have a range of about 200 miles and will go from zero to 60 in about four seconds. In our state you could run them on when power, making them zero carbon.

As a state we've also recognized something that this administration has not. We can't win the fight against global warming alone and that is we need allies. With Governor Schwarzenegger and other Western states we formed the Western Climate Initiative, seven states and two Canadian provinces, setting a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2020.

This fall the initiative will announce a market-based, cap-and-trade program to help achieve that goal. And inside our state we're implementing most of the 69 measures recommended by climate change action groups, measures that stretch across our large oil and gas industry, transportation buildings, and everything.

Like other states concerned about climate, we passed the Clean Cars Program to reduce vehicle emissions significantly starting in model year 2011. But what I want to stress to you, you say, well, is this politically doable? Because New Mexico is an oil and gas state, in fact, the fourth-largest gas producing state in the country.

And the answer is yes. The answer is this is why the West is leading when it comes to energy efficiency and clean energy, because it's not just a new environmental ethos of individualism, but also because of demographic trends that show environmentalism joining recreationists, joining fishermen, joining hunters in an effort to protect the land against unwanted drilling and other environmental excesses, such as the efforts to destroy our national forests.

For the first time in history, unfortunately, the EPA has rejected a waiver request from California on clean cars. Fourteen states, as I mentioned, are suing, but our hope is that the EPA grant this waiver immediately. In my judgment the debate on global warming is over. States are taking on this fight. You're taking on this fight. It's time for the federal government to be the leader and not a follower.

It's time to make this country the clean energy nation and my hope is with a new president that will happen. We should lead on change, not resist it. We should take bold, significant steps not cower in the fear of the future. My strong view is that despite the efforts of the people in this room and around the country the Congress and the president are doing far too little too late.

Why, for instance, are our fuel economy goals so much lower than Europe's and Japan's? Why does Congress, year after year, shy away from a national renewable energy requirement? Why can't we all call a halt to more conventional coal plants that commit us to decades of global warming pollution?

Although I'm pleased to see progress on the proposed Lieberman-Warner legislation to cut global warming emissions, why can't we have higher goals, faster goals, and move significantly more? This nation led the world in environmental protection and it was bipartisanism that did this. Bipartisanship, I think the greatest coalitions formed when we created the national park system and the wilderness system benefiting ourselves and people across the globe.

Today we trail the world, hurting ourselves economically and environmentally. We have to have a national program that unites our energy, our energy security, and climate goal that restores American leadership. I believe that we have to start with a five-point plan. Everybody has a five-point plan, so do I. Now I'm going to tell you about it.

Here's my first point, one, our first goal has to be to dramatically reduce oil consumption by the year 2020. What is oil now? A$100 a barrel, it may go up to $110. Somebody said it may go to $150. When I was energy secretary they wanted to throw me out. It was $22 a barrel. That was too high. I was a progressive force.

I would go around the world to OPEC countries and literally beg them to increase production so the price would go down. It's out of control now. By 2020, with hard work and the cooperation of Congress and the American people, we should set a goal, or we should mandate a goal to reduce our oil dependence by perhaps 50 percent.

From 1977 to 1985 we reduced oil consumption 17 percent with a less vigorous economy, narrower policy ideas and much fewer technologies. What we need is a sustained, intense commitment on a slightly larger scale. By moving quickly and comprehensively we will save trillions of dollars in oil imports, oil defense. We will get energy efficient choices into the marketplace fast and we will improve our economy.

First, we need to emphasize low and zero petroleum plug-in vehicles while sharply reducing the carbon emissions from our electric sector. This is the most important single step we can take to change our future oil consumption. Our second initiative should be to push fuel economy standards for conventionally fueled vehicles and light trucks to 50 miles per gallon, like Europe, like Japan. Not less than Europe and Japan.

Do this by the year 2020. Automakers, including Detroit, can meet these standards by using lighter and safer materials as well as more efficient engines such as ultra-clean diesels. My third oil initiative would be to create what is called a well-to-wheels low-carbon fuel requirement that reduces the aggregate carbon impact of our liquid fuels by 30 percent by 2020.

You can read this in my book "Leading by Example," Putnam books, $18.95. It's not Putnam is it, Ned? What is it? Wiley books. Sharply advancing the most energy-efficient renewable fuels, as well as plug-in hybrid technologies. This will include trains, planes, ships, and heavy trucks.

Fourth, we should implement smart growth and transit options that will make communities more energy efficient and livable in coming decades. Goal No. 2, make our electric sector more efficient and more diverse. My most aggressive goal is a national renewable portfolio standard of 30 percent by the year 2020 and then 50 percent by 2040. We can do it.

We have to shift demand from dirty electricity at any cost to clean electricity at the right price. America is innovative. We're capable. We can get serious goals and we can meet them. In the next few years we will be entering a new carbon cap-and-trade system, while at the same time we will need to address a growing demand for electricity from plug-in cars.

We're going to need to retire inefficient power plants and move to renewable sources such as wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass. A high goal for renewable energy is the only way to force development of energy storage systems that will make wind and solar energy into a base load resource for the entire nation. Goal number three and this also has obviously international dimensions.

Goal three is to reduce greenhouse U.S. gas emissions 20 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2040. I was very pleased that several environmental groups considered my energy plan in the presidential campaign to be the boldest. New scientific evidence shows that we must move faster than we thought to address global climate change and global warming.

I believe we have to have a market-based, cap-and-trade system. I think it's better than a carbon tax, like the Western Climate Initiative. By 2040 utilities and industry should be allowed to emit 80 percent less global warming pollution as they do today. And they should have to buy the rights to do so, creating a real market for pollution reduction.

A predictable economy wide program allows time for businesses and utilities to prepare and adjust. As economists have shown, we can afford to protect the climate. Given the risk of catastrophic climate change we must do this and we must afford it. A small commitment could save incalculable amounts in preventing drought and natural disasters.

Fourth goal, capitalize on our strengths in science and technology. We should create a national energy innovation fund, a trust fund with a one-time funding commitment, a fund that should provide needed research and technology support. Through science and technology we have the greatest potential to surprise ourselves with new, unexpected technologies.

It's vital to invest in our world leading institutions and programs in science and technology. We're a nation that is not investing in science or technology, whether it's medicine, whether it's cancer research. We spend $6 billion in cancer research in this country in one year, proportionately less than any European country. As a comparison, that's two weeks of the Iraq war, two weeks.

Last goal, our states and our country should lead this clean energy future and lead by example. The United States must return immediately to the international negotiating table and support mandatory limits on global warming pollution, keeping atmospheric carbon below 450 parts per million. Nations like India and China and many others are not going to change their energy trends until America takes the lead.

We should share new low-carbon technologies with fast-growing nations so they can meet their energy demands while continuing to develop. To do this we have to work with the European Union, the World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank, along with the United Nations. I would also take another step and that is create a cabinet level secretary to promote global climate change nationally and internationally. Someone is going to say, oh, is this another bureaucracy?

No, I believe what we need is to give the issue of climate change bureaucratic leadership in our government to elevate it to cabinet level status so it isn't somebody that is buried in a bureaucracy to handle this issue. We were very fortunate in the Clinton administration to have individuals like Dr. Claussen here on my right, who was a fighter, but if she takes this new position, again, needs the cabinet level status... she's going to kill me after this.

You know, I just want to close with this. The debate on global climate change I think is over. We need to leave this fight. We need solid allies in the fight like the Pew Center on Global Climate Change and the hundreds of organizations that are in this room. But you know what else we need to do? We need to be honest with the American people. We need to say to them, every one of us has to sacrifice a little bit.

I'm using that word. I used it in the course of the campaign and that, interestingly, in the living rooms and in the small towns of Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada, people didn't overreact and say, "Oh, we can't do that." They nodded. They liked the idea of shared sacrifice and that means all of us contributing to being more energy-efficient with our appliances, with the way we live, with mass transit.

But here's where a president needs to lead. Here's where the government has to come together like in the days of John F. Kennedy when he said we're going to go to the moon. Or he also said we're going to do something collectively for the good of this country, like perhaps what he meant in creating the Peace Corps. And we need ways that all of America can be channeled for the common good.

And I believe when it comes to energy conservation, when it comes to saying that this is a national security issue that Americans are ready to be led again. So I'm very pleased to be with this very distinguished group in this very distinguished hall. Where are we anyway? I know where we are. This is very fancy. But I want to thank you. I want to thank you. Again, this is my first speech since I grew this beard, so I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

Eileen Claussen: The governor has said we can take a couple of questions, but only a couple.

Question: I have a question about energy technology drawing on your experience as secretary of Department of Energy and also as a governor. Clearly, we're going to need to develop a lot of new technologies that we don't have now to do this. And my question is with all the money that's going to be coming in with a cap-and-trade system, how would you apportion those revenues between DOE, federal investments and new energy technologies? And how much would you give to the states?

Bill Richardson: Are you talking about the Energy Innovation Trust Fund for instance?

Question: Yeah, well, however it's funded, but it could well come from a cap-and-trade system. It would be a lot of money coming in. But what are the respective roles of DOE? Can we trust DOE to do this or is it something that states need to step forward much more than they are now?

Bill Richardson: Do I need to trust DOE to do it? Yeah, I think DOE has a role. You know, I remember we went to Detroit and we tried to get them convinced, and I'm talking about the late 90s, to develop more fuel-efficient engines. And they resisted it. They didn't want to, I recall, they didn't want to involve Toyota and others. And we finally got them to develop a program. So, I think there is a role for government research, but I believe that to develop these new energy technologies you need what is called - what I say the kitchen sink approach. Does it mean federal investment, federal dollars, a joint investment? Yes. Does it mean an energy innovation fund, perhaps from a market-based cap-and-trade system? Yes, that would be created to finance some of these projects. Number three, is it public/private partnerships, favorable tax incentives for some of these new technologies to develop? Yes and here's something else. Let me tell you how we attracted a lot of wind and solar and renewable energy companies to my state. We gave them favored treatment. We said if you come to New Mexico and you pay over the prevailing wage we will give you a tax incentive. Secondly, because of our reserves and the fact that our state is in good economic condition, because of the very good economic stewardship by the governor, that's supposed to be funny, that the state will invest in some of these new energy technologies and invest in these solar manufacturing plants and wind energy. I don't mind the private sector making money. I really don't. I would try to create a tax structure, yeah, of tax incentives, of subsidies. I'll use the word subsidies too. I'll use also, obviously, national legislation. It would be enormously more effective if the national government led. I'd give more flexibility to renewable transmission authorities to promote these new renewable technologies. I would, lastly, try to find ways in which the government is considered what is called a partner, that a government is considered the catalyst where the government leads.

Eileen Claussen: OK, one more I think.

Question: Governor, which of the three remaining presidential candidates do you think has the strongest environmental and climate change record? And would you be willing to serve as vice president for him or her?

Bill Richardson: Thank you. Who is that guy? I like that guy. Look, you know, one of the regrets I had in the campaign was that we didn't have a debate on global climate change and environment. We didn't. There was one group, Al Gore, I remember, called me towards the end. He was putting one together. It didn't happen. The League of Conservation Voters had a bunch of interviews with all of the candidates and they scheduled the debate very late so that only two could attend. Look, I believe that the Democratic candidates, as I said, I was very proud that at least the league and the Sierra Club thought I had the boldest plan. I think all the candidates on the Democratic side had good plans. I think Senator Clinton's plan was quite good. She borrowed a few of my elements. Senator Obama's is very good. You know, John McCain on climate change, he's got a pretty decent record. On the second question, I want to just say to you when I got out of this race I went into a period of what is called decompression, because you're gone 20 hours a day. Luckily I had my New Mexico legislature, so I immediately went into that. You know, I love what I do as a governor because governors, even when you're talking about clean energy, this is where I believe you can make the most difference. And those of you that are NGOs or various organizations know that at the state level it's very possible to achieve a number of great goals. So, I love being governor. I never say never to the future, but I certainly appreciate your question.

[End of Audio]



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