In a call to arms this afternoon at the National Clean Energy Summit, Vice President Joe Biden made the case for continued investments in renewable energy, explaining that “we have to unleash” innovation in the sector to stay competitive and rise to the environmental and economic challenges of the day.
“If we don’t develop renewable energy, we will make the biggest mistake in this nation’s history,” he explained a crowd of over 700 policymakers, investors, students and other business professionals in Las Vegas.
He also criticized political opponents of clean energy investments who have fought to de-fund major R&D and deployment programs, explaining “the President and I are not going to listen to those voices.”
Biden did not lay out any new policy priorities in today’s speech. Instead, he used the platform to reiterate the Obama Administration’s support for investing in renewable electricity and fuels. In his January State of the Union Address, Obama called this period of history “our generation’s Sputnik moment,” and outlined a broad plan to get 80% of the nation’s energy from clean resources by 2035.
With the potential for significant reductions in long-term spending on certain energy programs, the Administration may find it difficult to make the investments needed to come close to achieving that goal. While Biden didn’t address those specific challenges, he did make it clear that that the White House was at least standing behind the goal rhetorically.
“I have one specific message. Our country has a choice. Are we going to rise to the challenges like our grandfathers and grandmothers did? Or are we going to be a follower?”
Budget negotiations this fall will be a true test.
To see the rest of today’s speeches and roundtables at NCES, you can watch the live streaming here.