Transcript: Thom Hartmann & Governor Christine Gregoire - National Clean Energy Summit 4.0. August 30, 2011

Show live from the National Clean Energy Summit 4.0, co-sponsored by the Center for American Progress, live from Las Vegas, NV.

Thom Hartmann: Governor Granholm just sat down here with us and so, but thank you for the call, I do appreciate it and great to hear from you there in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Governor Granholm…

Christine Gregoire: Gregoire.

Thom Hartmann: Gregoire! Gregoire! I'm sorry.

Christine Gregoire: Granholm is no longer in office.

Thom Hartmann: Yes I know, yes. And in fact…

Christine Gregoire: I take that as a compliment though.

Thom Hartmann: And you were right next door to me for five years as I lived in Portland.

Christine Gregoire: Well there you go.

Thom Hartmann: So anyhow, I don't know, it's too early in the morning. Great to have you with us.

Christine Gregoire: Good to be here.

Thom Hartmann: Thank you for joining us. Tell us what's going on with alternative energy. What brings you here, first of all?

Christine Gregoire: Well the majority leader, Senator Reid, gave me a call and said that he knew that Washington State had really kind of dedicated itself to renewable energy by an initiative passed by the voters in 2006 and since that time we've just been going gangbusters. Seeing it as the economy of tomorrow for Washington State. Example, we set a goal in 2007 that we wanted to produce 25 thousand green jobs by the year 2020. By last year, three years later, we had 100 thousand. Four times our goal and a decade early.

Thom Hartmann: Wow.

Christine Gregoire: So that…

Thom Hartmann: How?

Christine Gregoire: Well, example. When the voters said they wanted renewable energy, we didn't produce any wind power. We are now the fourth largest wind power producing state in the country. It just has, investors have come…

Thom Hartmann: But it didn't happen by magic, I mean, I'm guessing you had something to do with this.

Christine Gregoire: No, we put it as our priority. We've kind of identified where we think the economy of tomorrow is and we think one of the major places for economic development is in the green economy. Not only in my state, because it is a very environmentally conscious state, but when you're the leading exporter in the country for the state of its size, most dependent on trade, you see the globe and you see what's going on and we can't see leadership in this area like we have been. We've got to recapture the leadership role and so our state believes, along with Oregon and California and British Columbia, that in partnering we can do that.

Thom Hartmann: Well you know that giant dam on the Columbia, that I visited a couple of times, I'm drawing a blank on the name of there, but you know what I'm talking about anyway.

Christine Gregoire: Yeah.

Thom Hartmann: Bonneville Dam.

Christine Gregoire: Bonneville and Bonneville power, hydro power for us, obviously is our greatest renewable resource.

Thom Hartmann: Yeah and renewable energy for people in the pacific northwest has always been oh yeah but it's like moving it the next step, getting industry involved, getting the public sector involved, getting people excited about it. Particularly when gas is cheap compared to the rest of the world. I mean Europe they're paying 7 to 12 dollars a gallon for gas and we're complaining about four dollars a gallon and I'm not suggesting that it should go higher, particularly with people in rural areas. But we need to develop alternatives.

Christine Gregoire: Right.

Thom Hartmann: So what, what's happening here at the National Clean Energy Summit that has you the most excited?

Christine Gregoire: You know, here's an opportunity for us to say, and I think Secretary Chu in his remarks this morning captured it. We're kind of all involved in the economic crisis of the day and asking ourselves how are we going to get out of the economic doldrums that the country is in right now. How are we going to recover from the great recession. We've got to keep our eye on the ball. And that's what Senator Reid is talking about. How do we make sure that while we deal with that crisis, we're also not taking our eye off what the future holds for us and continuing to invest, continuing to attract investors, and continuing to develop the technology of tomorrow. Again not ceding leadership in this area to any other country, but maintaining our world leadership role.

Thom Hartmann: Right. We're talking with Chris Gregoire the governor of the great state of Wisconsin… Washington. Boy. I had to be here, we had to be here at 4:30 this morning to do the security sweep for the secret service and it's just been downhill from there. My apologies.

Christine Gregoire: Wow.

Thom Hartmann: Anyhow, I think it's remarkable what you've been doing and what, you know, to not be too political but it seems like the message from the people who control the House of Representatives, shall we say, is no we are not going to do anything, you want to spend money it ain't going to happen, whether it's an investment or saving grandma's life, I mean whatever. How, do we just wait until 2013, do we, obviously this is something grass roots action, a lot that can be done in the states. I know, you know in 24 states that are controlled by republican governors and legislatures they've cut payrolls, they've cut taxes and they've actually seen the GDP drop by a half a point on average. 25 states that have democrats largely in charge have seen GDP increase by about a half a point. So you know there's some fact based evidence out there but it doesn't seem to be influencing anybody in Washington, at least in the House of Representatives. Where do we go with this? How do we wake people up, what do we do?

Christine Gregoire: Let me give you one example. We're dedicated to a program in our state, largely led by a private sector company called McKinstry, that says we'll go in and we'll retrofit your school, your building, your business, and you pay us back with the savings that you get over the first few years.

Thom Hartmann: No money up front.

Christine Gregoire: No money up front. That's the kind of creativity and innovation that if congress would step up to it, to include the republican dominated House of Representatives, we could continue to lead across the glove. But to sit there and do nothing and say because we're in economic crisis means we take a time out and do nothing means that what I saw when I, you know, went to Copenhagen, means that we're going to fall further and further behind and make it impossible for us to catch up. And when it comes to our national security, to jobs of tomorrow, this really is where we have to keep investing. R and D is critical. States can't do it. It's a federal government leadership role. So to say that we're going to leave a legacy to our children of nothing is, in my opinion, the exact wrong thing for America. We need to continue to have the federal government exercise leaderships. Be smart about it, do the investment of we'll retrofit, you pay us back with your savings, and ultimately you keep the savings because you've paid us back. Those are the kind of smart things we can be doing.

Thom Hartmann: Right. And we must be doing.

Christine Gregoire: Right, absolutely.

Thom Hartmann: We absolutely must be doing it. And from grass roots action through political action, through electing good people.

Christine Gregoire: Absolutely.

Thom Hartmann: We just have about 20 seconds left before the break, just a final thought about this conference or what people should be doing, governor?

Christine Gregoire: I hope through Senator Reid and this conference that we're going to wake up America to keep your eye on the ball. Yes we got an economic crisis on our hands. But if we want to have a tomorrow for our children to be safe and secure, to have jobs, then we invest in a clean energy future for America.

Thom Hartmann: Very quickly, is Senator Reid leading this, because this is a particular passion of his or because he's the leader of the senate?

Christine Gregoire: No this is his passion, he and I have talked about it and it's his personal passion.

Thom Hartmann: That's marvelous. That is marvelous. So governor Gregoire, thanks so much for being with us.

Christine Gregoire: Hey thank you. You bet.

Thom Hartmann: Very nice to meet you finally. You've been on our radio show back when I was on KPOJ and others, many many times, great to see you in person.

Christine Gregoire: Right. Great to see you. Thank you.

Thom Hartmann: Keep up the great work. Thanks so much.

Christine Gregoire: Will do.

Thom Hartmann: We'll be back. Thom Hartmann here with you, live at the National Clean Energy Summit 4.0, the future of energy in Las Vegas. We'll be right back.

Transcribed by Suzanne Roberts, Portland Psychology Clinic.

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