Interior Secretary to Windmill Conference: 'We Do Not Have A Choice' But To Go With ‘Clean Energy'

By Nicholas Ballasy | October 6, 2010 | 5:15 PM EDT

U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

( - Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said the Obama administration does “not have a choice” but to move forward with its “clean energy program,” despite two wars, “the gridlock of Congress” and “the very difficult economic time.” He also said the United States must “do it if we want to secure the economic future of America” and “the national security of the United States.”

“Some people in these difficult times would say, ‘How can you take on these bold new initiatives and stay focused? How can you deal with the fact that there are two wars that we as the United States of America are still involved in? And how can we deal with the very difficult economic time that we are working so hard to work through? How is it that you can do all that, yet continue to move forward with this clean energy program for the future of America?’” Salazar told the American Wind Energy Association in Atlantic City, New Jersey on Wednesday at their North American Offshore Wind Conference.

“And some people might say, when you look at the gridlock of Congress and the passing of energy legislation, ‘How is it that you can continue to move forward?,'” he said.

“Well, my answer to all of them is a simple answer, and that is, we do not have a choice,” said Salazar.

The clean energy program, according to the Interior Department, is “a series of renewable energy projects” that “would provide thousands of U.S. jobs and advance U.S. clean energy technologies.”

“We must do it if we want to secure the economic future of America; if we want to secure the national security of the United States; if we want to create jobs here in America and maintain control of our future, we do not have a choice,” said Salazar. “And that is why the president has been resolute and so determined that we will move forward with this clean energy future for America.”

Salazar mentioned President Barack Obama several times in his remarks.

“President Obama understands that the jobs of tomorrow are in clean energy,” said Salazar.

He later added, “As President Obama has said: It's a win-win. Good for the environment, great for the economy.”

Salazar also described where “clean energy jobs” are being created in America.

“Those jobs are in places like Holland, Michigan, where the Recovery Act’s $2.4 billion investment in advanced battery technology has helped get a new manufacturing plant under way,” he said. “Three hundred people are helping build the plant, and another 300 will find jobs when it opens.”

”Clean energy jobs are in places like Pueblo, Colorado, where a wind tower manufacturing plant opening there will put over 500 people to work,” said Salazar. “The new energy revolution is springing to life across the country.”

Secretary Salazar stressed the importance of wind energy during his remarks.

“The U.S. installed a record 10,000 megawatts of new onshore wind capacity in 2009, or enough to power over 2 million new homes. This is a great start, but it is only the beginning,” said Salazar.

”If we fully pursue our potential for wind energy on land and offshore, wind can generate as much as 20 percent of our electricity by 2030 and create a quarter-million jobs in the process,” he said.

Salazar also said the Department of Interior has a “major role to play” in the “transformation of our nation’s future.”

“As the department that oversees one-fifth of the nation’s land and 1.7 billion acres of Outer Continental Shelf, we have a major role to play in the transformation of our nation’s energy future,” he said.