As the impacts of climate changes become more and more prevalent, the Administration is working hard to create a cleaner, safer and more resilient nation. This week, during a trip to San Jose and San Francisco, Calif., I was able to see firsthand the steps Americans are taking to move towards a clean energy economy and prepare communities for the impacts of climate change.
Yesterday, I joined state and local leaders for a tour of projects focused on building resilience to climate impacts, including sea level rise, at Ocean Beach in San Francisco. Beach erosion has forced the closure of a section of the Great Highway along the City’s Pacific coast and threatens critical wastewater infrastructure. In response, the City of San Francisco has undertaken an unprecedented and expedited collaboration of city, state, and federal agencies—as well as community stakeholders—to implement a sustainable approach to coastal management.
The President knows that the best ideas come from the communities facing the worst of climate change impacts, which is why he established a task force of 26 state, local, and tribal leaders to advise him on what they need from the Federal Government to build resilience in their communities. I’ve had the opportunity to meet with many of these leaders on a regular basis, and the innovation they’ve shown at the community level is truly impressive and already informing the way that we’re developing our policies back in Washington.
Great ideas are also coming from the private sector. Yesterday, at the Silicon Valley Energy Summit at Stanford University I spoke with stakeholders, entrepreneurs, investors, and businesses about new energy innovations and advancements in the United States. It was rewarding to be on stage alongside former Secretary of State, George Shultz, who has been a true leader on the challenging issue of climate change.
Thanks in part to the Obama Administration’s investment in clean energy – the largest in American history – the United States has more than doubled renewable energy generation from wind, solar, and geothermal sources since 2008. Solar jobs have jumped dramatically in recent years, and it has been growing at a rate faster than any other sector in the country. The costs of solar panels are decreasing, too.
Earlier this spring, President Obama called for private and public sector commitments to create jobs by advancing solar deployment and energy efficiency. GRID Alternatives, a non-profit in California, responded to this call along with more than 300 other organizations from the private and public sector. Specifically, GRID Alternatives committed to help install 100 MW of solar power on low-income housing across the country by 2024.
Wednesday, in San Jose, I was able to participate in one of these solar power installations for a local homeowner with GRID Alternatives co-founders Erica Mackie and Tim Sears. On the roof with a group of inspiring volunteers, I installed a solar panel for the first time and the homeowner told me how excited she was about her energy bills decreasing.
It has never been more evident that we’re transitioning to a clean energy economy, and becoming a country that’s resilient to the impacts of climate change. With the right innovation, investment and commitment, America is on the way to achieving both a healthy economy and a healthy environment.
Mike Boots is Acting Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.