'Now, we must have the will to act, and to act boldly'

President-elect Barack H. Obama, as he announced the nominations of Steven Chu as Energy secretary, Lisa Jackson as Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Nancy Sutley as chairwoman of the Council on Environmental Quality, and Carol Browner as White House energy and environment policy coordinator on Dec. 15:

"In the next few years, the choices that we make will help determine the kind of country, and world, that we will leave to our children and grandchildren. All of us know the problems rooted in our addiction to foreign oil; it constrains our economy, shifts wealth to hostile regimes, and leaves us dependent on unstable regions. These urgent dangers are eclipsed only by the long-term threat of climate change, which, unless we act, will lead to drought and famine abroad, devastating weather patterns and terrible storms on our shores, and the disappearance of our coastline at home.

"For over three decades, we've listened to a growing chorus of warnings about our energy dependence. We've heard president after president promise to chart a new course. We've heard Congress talk about energy independence, only to pull up short in the face of opposition from special interests. We've seen Washington launch policy after policy. Yet our dependence on foreign oil has only grown, even as the world's resources are disappearing.

"This time must be different. This time we cannot fail, nor be lulled into complacency simply because the price at the pump has – for now – gone down from $4 a gallon. To control our own destiny, America must develop new forms of energy and new ways of using it. This is not a challenge for government alone – it is a challenge for all of us. The pursuit of a new energy economy requires a sustained, all-hands-on-deck effort because the foundation of our energy independence is right here, in America – in the power of wind and solar; in new crops and new technologies; in the innovation of our scientists and entrepreneurs, and the dedication and skill of our workforce. Those are the resources we must harness to move beyond our oil addiction and create a new, hybrid economy.

"As we face this challenge, we can seize boundless opportunities for our people. We can create millions of jobs, starting with a 21st Century Economic Recovery Plan that puts Americans to work building wind farms, solar panels, and fuel-efficient cars. We can spark the dynamism of our economy through long term investments in renewable energy that will give life to new businesses and industries, with good jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced. We will make public buildings more efficient, modernize our electric grid, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and protect and preserve our natural resources.

"We must also recognize that the solution to global climate change must be global. I spoke a few days ago with Senator John Kerry, who updated me on the recent climate negotiations in Poland. Just as we work to reduce our own emissions, we must forge international solutions to ensure that every nation is doing its part. As we do so, America will lead not just at the negotiating table – we will lead, as we always have, through innovation and discovery; through hard work and the pursuit of a common purpose . . .

"Looking ahead, I am confident that we will be ready to begin the journey towards a new energy frontier on Jan. 20. This will be a leading priority of my presidency, and a defining test of our time. We cannot afford complacency, nor accept any more broken promises. We won't create a new energy economy and protect our environment overnight, but we can begin that work right now if we think anew, and act anew. Now, we must have the will to act, and to act boldly."

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com

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