Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proclaimed Thursday that the United States could become the “clean energy superpower” of the world if the nation and states such as Nevada lead in developing renewable energy sources from solar, wind and geothermal power.
Speaking at a clean energy summit in Las Vegas, Clinton praised the Silver State for quintupling its renewable energy capital since 2008, with some $5 billion in investments so far.
And the former first lady said Nevada’s successful bid for electric car company Tesla’s $5 billion battery factory is an example of how the state’s efforts to develop renewable energy makes it magnet for such companies.
“Nevada was competitive because it had already invested in green energy, solar, geothermal and wind” power, she said, noting that one expert has compared the Tesla project to a breakthrough in energy development to construction of Hoover Dam.
Nevada has five utility-scale solar projects, including one of the largest in the world.
“This is the kind of ambitious collection of projects … making solar power increasingly competitive with fossil fuels in this state and across the country,” Clinton said. “We know this is not some kind of dream. This is a reality that can be brought to scale.”
“I think we can say that Nevada is one of the leaders in our nation of solar energy,” she added, noting that the state also has more geothermal projects than any other state. “So no matter whether the sun is shining or the wind is blowing, Nevada is working.”
Making a political point, Clinton also noted that clean energy jobs often pay higher wages, meaning “more Nevada families can be making it into the middle class and staying in the middle class.”
Still, Clinton said Nevada and the nation “can do and must do every more.”
She noted that China and other countries are racing ahead of the U.S. “with big bets on renewables. We cannot afford to concede leadership in this area.”
“America can be the clean energy superpower for the 21st Century,” Clinton said.
Clinton, who’s expected to run for president in 2016, delivered the keynote address at the clean energy summit, giving her a chance to burnish her green credentials in an early-voting battleground state. Former President Bill Clinton has addressed the summit several times in the past.
She spoke to an audience of about 800 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, earning warm applause especially when she touted the U.S. as a potential clean energy superpower.
The summit gave Clinton a chance to make contacts with leaders in the clean energy industry, including wealthy donors who may back a White House bid, and to shore up her relationship with event host U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.
The clean energy speech came about six weeks before Clinton is scheduled to headline a fundraiser for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Foundation. Her $225,000 fee and demands to control every aspect of the closed event have been widely criticized.
Her 22-minute speech at the summit was delivered free of charge, however. In her talk, Clinton said clean energy also will help save the environment and provide healthier alternatives to dirtier fossil fuels such as oil and coal, which release carbon emissions that contribute to global warming.
Clinton dismissed people who don’t believe in climate change as “deniers,” saying there’s plenty of evidence that icecaps are melting, sea levels are rising and temperatures are increasing with 13 of the world’s hottest years coming since 2000.
Strategically, Clinton said developing clean energy also will make America less dependent on foreign oil and help European allies become less dependent on Russian energy.
“America’s ability to lead the world hinges on our ability to act ourselves,” Clinton said.
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