Department of Energy

Secretary Perry at EarthX 2019 in Dallas

April 30, 2019

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Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Secretary Perry at EarthX: The New American Energy Era Is a Path To Zero Emissions
Secretary Perry spoke at EarthX in Dallas on April 25, 2019. 

Thank you for that kind introduction.

It is great to be back in Texas...and I’m delighted to join all of you today.

It’s great to see so many of my friends and fellow Texans...especially our host...Trammel Crow.

Trammel founded Earth Day Texas in 2011...and under his stellar leadership...it has grown into what we now call EarthX...the world’s largest environmental festival.

Trammel...on behalf of everyone in this room....thank you for your visionary leadership and commitment to energy innovation and our environment.

As a former governor... I’m proud of how Texas has led the nation in both energy production and economic growth... and I’m just as proud of its remarkable strides in protecting the environment.

For the better part of a generation...Texas has been dramatically reducing energy emissions...and continues to lead the nation in harnessing wind power.

And what’s true of Texas is true for the nation.

Under President Trump’s leadership... our economy is expanding...jobs are growing... ....we’re leading the world in oil and gas production...and we continue to lead in reducing energy-related carbon emissions.

Yes...you heard that correctly.

For nearly two decades... the United States has reduced more of those emissions than any other nation on earth.

And that includes every one of the 194 nations that remain signatories to the Paris Climate Agreement.

This is proof positive that our actions continue to speak louder than their words. When the rest of world gets serious about taking action...they will look to us. And we’re just getting started.

We are determined to lead the drive for a cleaner energy world.

And we will do it without surrendering one single fuel... one bit of growth...one iota of opportunity... for this nation... or this world.

We will do it through the same vehicle that brought us the energy progress of today. We will do by encouraging the world-changing power of innovation.

From air travel to space flight...from curing ancient diseases to providing modern electricity...innovation has helped us achieve the impossible.

And through innovation...we can make our energy even cleaner.
Now the first step is to take energy that is free of emissions...and generate more of it.

That includes renewables like solar and wind...which are now more affordable and available than ever.

Now some people want us to take renewables...and rely on them alone.
If we followed their advice...our energy might be cleaner...but nowhere near as reliable.

When the sun doesn’t shine...or the wind blow...imagine what a single natural disaster or serious cyberattack could do.

Our lights could go out and stay out ....impacting our entire way of life.

And imagine the costs to our economy and society of maintaining a grid that is completely reliant on intermittent energy.

I believe we can avert this danger by adding to renewables at least one other energy source that not only is emissions free...but maintains rock-solid... 24/7 reliability.

That source is nuclear energy.

From small modular reactors...to advanced reactors...to micro reactors...American-led innovation can and will blaze a trail for a truly amazing nuclear energy revival.

But what about fossil fuels?
The answer is clear.
Thanks to innovation...we need not abandon them... either. To every nay sayer...let me pose this question:

Rather than driving down these fuels by regulation...why not drive down their emissions through innovation?

And that’s exactly what we’ve been doing.
Thanks to innovation...we’ve seen astonishing reductions in coal emissions like mercury.

And through the remarkable technology of carbon capture utilization and storage....or CCUS...we are advancing innovations that could one day make coal as clean as renewables.

Now that’s critically important...because coal has the same 24/7 reliability as nuclear.

To use an analogy...I view our electricity generation mix like a house...with our most reliable fuels... coal and nuclear...as its foundation.

Without a solid foundation...the house isn’t stable... without totally reliable fuels...neither is our supply of electricity.

Yes... we need abundant sources like clean natural gas to provide us with increased energy diversity.

Yes...we need more renewable sources like wind and solar.

And just as we invest in CCUS to make coal as clean as renewables... so should we continue to fund breakthroughs in energy storage that could one day make renewables as reliable as coal and nuclear!

And what’s true for America is even truer for the world.

For a decade...there’s been an annual event that encourages people to shut off their lights for an hour.

It got me to thinking about places where people have no lights to begin with.

I grew up in such a place not too far from here...and not too long ago.

Today...nearly a billion people across the globe still have zero electricity.

They are locked in energy poverty...and locked out of economic prosperity.

Joining them in darkness is a symbolic gesture that will help none of them...but providing them the energy they need to produce light will.

Make no mistake...if we abandon reliable fuels...we are abandoning these folks as well.

But the good news is... we don’t have to.

We can make our energy cleaner...while embracing every fuel that supplies it...if only we keep innovating.

Back in Washington... people argue endlessly on what “clean” or “cleaner” means.

Does it mean carbon-neutral...or carbon-free?

Does it mean 100% emissions-free... 100% non-renewables emissions-free...or something else?

But as they fight over words and who to blame...I see people in our National Labs...I see people right here in this room...forging ahead with action.

Through innovation...you are achieving the results we all want... and together, we can transcend these divisions... bridge the energy poverty gap... and secure a future of cleaner energy.

And so... as we look to tomorrow...let us spur...not spurn...innovation.
Let us fund it...let us invest in it...let us remove regulations that discourage it.

Let us renew our resolve... revive our imagination...and dream great dreams befitting our great nation and our noble cause.

And as we embrace innovation...let us withhold no fuel from its transformative power...as we drive toward a more abundant...secure...and clean...energy world.

Thank you.