The City Club of Cleveland
Remarks prepared for delivery by
Secretary Mel Martinez
Thursday, May 31, 2001
Thank you for that very generous introduction� and thank you all
for such a warm welcome. I am pleased to be making my first official
visit to the city of Cleveland and glad to pay tribute to the accomplishments
of mayor white and the people of this city, who have made a renewed
Cleveland such a great place to live, work, and raise a family.
Of course, I could not come to Cleveland without saluting the
Indians. For 100 years, whether they were playing in League Park,
Cleveland Stadium or Jacobs Field, the tribe has brought a lot of
joy to Ohio baseball fans. So congratulations to the team during
its centennial celebration. And I have to single out Jim Thome for
becoming the team's career home run leader two nights ago.
I want to take a moment to recognize one of our many partners
at the Department of Housing and Urban Development: the Stark Metropolitan
Housing Authority in nearby Canton, Ohio.
In November of last year, the Stark Metropolitan Housing Authority
won the Ohio governor's award for excellence in energy efficiency.
They undertook an energy conservation program that included replacing
1,700 older refrigerators with models consuming just half the energy.
In doing so, they slashed their yearly energy bills by nearly $92,000.
By the way, Maytag produced these new units as part of a HUD-Department
of Energy effort to encourage the industry to design and produce
more efficient refrigerators.
Congratulations to Executive Director Amanda S. Fletcher and her
entire staff on their achievement. It illustrates the good that
we can accomplish when we put our ingenuity to work seeking new
solutions to old problems - which happens to be the very theme I
plan to speak about this afternoon.
And it is important as HUD Secretary to focus on the nation's energy
crunch, because when the nation is facing an energy shortage, our
urban centers are the first to feel the squeeze.
The fact is, America faces the most serious energy shortage since
the oil crisis of the 1970s introduced us to gas lines and fuel
And anyone who looks at the facts would have to agree - just notice
the rolling blackouts in California, the power shortages in Washington
State, high natural gas prices on the East Coast, and the rising
prices at gasoline pumps most everywhere.
After two decades of falling steadily, the energy bill for an average
family has skyrocketed 25 percent since 1998. What is already a
hardship for many could become an impossible burden in the future.
Maybe most frustrating is that today's energy crisis could have
been avoided. It has been a long time in coming, and the warning
signs were obvious to anybody who took the time to look. The problem
is not a lack of natural resources, because our nation is blessed
with resources in abundance. The problem, very simply, has been
a lack of leadership.
For the past decade, Washington stood by and watched as America's
energy needs mounted. Decision makers did nothing to help increase
the energy supply. They restricted efforts to increase oil exploration
and production. They made it harder to meet demand by choking energy
producers with regulations. They ignored potential new energy sources
and turned their backs on nuclear energy and the clean, affordable
power it offers.
The results of those policies are now apparent.
Even as energy demand has risen in this country over the past decade,
oil production has not kept pace. Since 1980, the number of American
refineries has been cut in half. Not a single new refinery has been
built in more than 25 years. The government has reinterpreted regulations
in such a way that existing refineries cannot expand their capacity.
Natural gas production is equally constrained. This nation has
vast, untapped supplies of natural gas, but some 40 percent of those
potential resources are found on federal lands, either closed to
exploration or under severe restrictions.
And even if we could access them, we would have trouble transporting
them - today's pipeline system is barely adequate for meeting even
The picture is no better for the electricity we need to keep our
homes lit and our office computers running.
The Department of Energy estimates that electricity demand will
increase 45 percent over the next 20 years. That will require 1,300
new power plants, or about 65 a year. It has been more than a decade
since we added that much power. We also have not upgraded the aging
power grid that moves electricity from producers to consumers.
Nuclear power is safe, clean, and inexpensive. But Washington has
done nothing to ensure that it remains a viable source of energy.
Since 1979, not one nuclear power plant permit has been granted,
and many of today's plants are expected to die off once their permits
expire over the next 15 years.
My aim in pointing this out is not to be a prophet of doom and
gloom, but simply to present the facts. America has a serious energy
shortage - one that has been years in the making, predating the
Department of Energy itself.
I am proud that just a few months into his term, President Bush
has put together a comprehensive, long-term plan to address this
As the President said in St. Paul two weeks ago, when he unveiled
the administration's new energy strategy, "to protect the environment,
to meet our growing energy needs, to improve our quality of life,
America needs an energy plan that faces up to our energy challenges
and meets them."
The President's energy plan for the 21st century meets these challenges
It is based on the fact that a fundamental imbalance exists between
energy supply and energy demand in this country. To meet the demand,
we have become too dependent on foreign oil and the whims of Opec
and its producer nations, leaving us prone to the wild fluctuations
in energy prices such dependence generates.
To be successful, our national energy strategy must address this
imbalance and ensure Americans have access to clean, available,
and affordable energy. I think the President's plan succeeds.
But first, the President is doing everything that he can - as quickly
as he can - to offer relief to consumers feeling the energy crunch
at the gas pump and in their utility bills.
Just two days ago, he asked Congress for an additional $150 million
to help low-income families in cities like Cleveland, Orlando, and
Los Angeles cope with high energy and gas bills. That is in addition
to $300 million in energy assistance the President already calls
for in his budget.
He is also expediting permits for new power plants in California.
And he has pledged to investigate all complaints of price gouging,
and take swift and strong action if the complaints are justified.
These short-term measures offer a starting point. The long-term
answers are exactly that: long term. The energy shortage we find
ourselves battling will not be solved overnight� but we will never
solve it if we do not pursue solutions beginning today.
The President's solution comes in three parts:
First, America needs to expand and diversify its energy supply.
This includes not only oil and gas, but clean coal, wind, solar,
biodiesel, hydropower and nuclear as well.
Second, America needs to modernize its energy infrastructure� to
more efficiently bring together producers and consumers.
And third, America needs to become the world's leader in conservation
and efficiency. We will do that by promoting technology and innovation
that reduces demand for power.
Let me expand on the conservation issue first.
Yes, we encourage everyone to be conscious of their power consumption,
but energy conservation means more than simply turning off the lights
like I do when my kids leave a room. It means finding new ways to
do more with less - using our energy resources more wisely.
We know we can do it, because we have done it before.
Buy a refrigerator today and you will find it uses one-third less
electricity than a refrigerator built 30 years ago. Cars need just
60 percent of the gasoline they needed in 1972 and emit 95 percent
less pollution. We are continually striving to do more with less
- it is time we apply that same ingenuity to achieving our goal
of energy conservation.
The University of Cincinnati met the challenge. Following budget
cutbacks, university staff was confronted with the task of finding
creative ways to save energy in over six million square feet of
facilities. They did, by designing an energy efficient lighting
system that today saves $1.3 million every year.
The effort is credited with removing tens of millions of pounds
of pollutants from the atmosphere. The project was so successful
that it, too, was honored with the governor's award for excellence
in energy efficiency.
President Bush wants to inspire that same level of creativity
on a national scale. His plan underwrites research and development
into energy-saving technologies that will strengthen America's commitment
to energy efficiency and conservation. He will require manufacturers
to build more energy saving appliances.
And he will expect no less of the federal government itself than
he asks of America's families and businesses.
To meet tomorrow's energy needs, we need to start replacing yesterday's
aging infrastructure. Our national system of refineries, generating
facilities, pipelines, and transmission lines is deteriorating and
strained to capacity.
The President is proposing that we modernize and expand America's
energy infrastructure, to ensure that energy supplies can be safely,
reliably, and affordably transported to your homes and businesses.
We have the technology to build factories that consume less and
pollute less. We have the ability - and the responsibility - to
eliminate the regulatory hurdles that hurt people by denying them
access to lower utility bills and more dependable energy. And this
administration has the determination to make it happen.
At the same time, we need to ensure that we meet the ever-growing
demand for electricity. One major cause of the severe energy shortage
in California is that the state has not built a major power plant
in more than a decade.
Even a state with an extensive conservation plan - and California
has one of the best in the nation - cannot hope to meet increasing
demand when saddled with inadequate resources.
Not every state, of course, has such a gloomy outlook.
I am glad to say that many areas of the country are likely to
be spared the blackouts and serious power interruptions that are
creating problems in California. Pursuing the very sorts of policies
the President has proposed, states like Ohio had the foresight to
continue building power plants when other states were not. Not only
that, your energy officials say that under Ohio's new deregulation
plan, utilities here are better protected against short-term market
It is hard to meet the needs of a new century when we are depending
on technology that in many cases barely survived the last. Today,
we are producing 39 percent less oil than we did in 1970 and making
up the difference by depending more and more on foreign suppliers
who do not necessarily have America's interests at heart.
Crude oil supply is only half the equation. Turning that oil into
useful fuel is the other, and we are falling short there as well.
The nation's oil refineries are running at near-maximum capacity
and still cannot meet consumer demand. The fact that we are seeing
such high fuel prices can be directly attributed to this lack of
Conservation alone cannot begin to close the shortfall between
energy supply and energy demand. Even if we significantly improve
conservation - and we will - we are consuming more and more energy
all the time. We need to find and extract more oil, and process
more of it into fuel.
Under the President's leadership, we will diversify and expand
our energy supplies. The President's plan helps to reduce the gap
between consumption and production by giving refiners increased
flexibility in meeting increased demand. It calls for deploying
the latest technologies to the exploration and production of domestic
It also supports the clean, safe, inexpensive power offered by
nuclear generation. In 1979, Three Mile Island put nuclear power
on the shelf. Since that time, great advancements in technology
make this power source safe and usable. Just think, in 1979 we were
first hearing of something called the personal computer.
What the President's plan avoids are price controls.
This nation tried price controls back in the 1970s. They did not
work then, and they will not work now. Price caps do nothing to
reduce energy demand or increase supply.
As any businessperson knows, the market operates best when economic
forces are allowed to do their work. Price controls sound like a
quick fix, but if prices are not high enough, production will go
There is a very real possibility that by discouraging production,
imposing price controls would make the problems in states like California
even worse. The President has pledged that he will not let that
Respect for the environment is another critical component of our
Ensuring America's energy security and safeguarding the environment
are not mutually exclusive goals, and to suggest that we can achieve
one only at the expense of the other is wrong. This administration's
commitment to environmental protection runs deep: we will not sacrifice
- for an extra watt of electricity here, or another barrel of oil
there - the long-term gains America has made in ensuring that our
children and grandchildren enjoy a cleaner future. And that is something
on which our President will not compromise.
We can achieve balance. During a recent visit to Pennsylvania,
the President saw it himself, along the Susquehanna River. American
shad, a fish that served as a food source dating back to the earliest
Native Americans, had disappeared entirely from the river by 1921
because of man's careless intervention.
Today, American shad have been restored in the river waters. They
swim serenely alongside the hydroelectric dam that is providing
emission-free power to the people of Pennsylvania.
The question is, can we come together as a nation and build a positive,
new consensus that meets America's energy needs far into the 21st
History tells us that we can, because whenever Americans are challenged
to put our minds to accomplishing a serious task, the job gets done.
We are a nation of unlimited enthusiasm, blessed with the resources
of great thinkers, the best technology in the world, and the freedom
President Bush has put together an energy plan that is optimistic
and that will take us to energy independence into the 21st century.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development is committed to
working with him as we pursue a comprehensive national energy strategy.
In fact, HUD has a long tradition of supporting energy efficient
technologies� and our recent projects provide a strong complement
to the conservation goals the President has outlined.
To improve energy efficiency in HUD-assisted housing, we have formed
a unique partnership with the private sector. Through what we call
"energy performance contracting," private firms finance and install
improvements, then they share the savings with the local housing
authority. The Minneapolis Housing Authority teamed up with private
companies to save $450,000 a year in energy bills.
We are working with the Holyoke housing authority in Massachusetts
to construct a model energy-efficient project. The Churchill Homes
development is replacing 200 World War II-era public housing units
with state-of-the-art homes that feature high-efficiency hot water
heaters and controlled ventilation for indoor air quality.
To encourage new homebuyers to install cost-effective conservation
measures, FHA offers the energy efficient mortgage. This allows
Americans to borrow an additional $8,000 to undertake energy conservation
measures. Since the program began in 1993, more than 80,000 homeowners
have taken advantage of these mortgages.
HUD also supports cutting-edge research into energy-saving technologies.
For example, we are working with Dow Chemical to develop the application
of a new type of insulation. It measures just one quarter of an
inch thick, yet provides the insulating power of six inches of standard
Partnered with private firms and organizations such as the National
Association of Home Builders, HUD is actively field-testing energy-efficient
construction techniques around the country. One of these demonstration
projects can be found in Takoma Village in Washington, D.C. This
multifamily development relies on a highly efficient geothermal
heating and cooling system to boost energy savings and environmental
At the Department of Housing and Urban Development, we understand
that new partnerships and new technologies are critical to helping
us meet the nation's energy challenges.
And with the same spirit of innovation and enthusiasm that HUD
is applying to meeting our energy needs, we are working to meet
this nation's overall housing needs.
I have to tell you how much I have enjoyed and appreciated my first
four months as secretary. To walk into the White House as a member
of the President's Cabinet is a humbling and inspiring experience,
and I feel richly blessed to have been given this historic opportunity
Thirty-eight years ago, I entered this country as a teenage refugee,
carrying with me nothing but my faith in God and my hope in the
goodness of America. I was taught compassion for strangers from
the two loving foster families who not only opened their homes to
me but more importantly, opened their hearts and made my a part
of their family.
Four years later, my mother and father emigrated here and later
became homeowners themselves. We finally had our own American dream,
and I continue to live that dream today, as the first Cuban-American
cabinet secretary. I have enjoyed no greater honor - and no greater
As I have traveled around the country as Secretary of HUD, I have
seen the ways that people and communities are working to meet their
In Mount Vernon, New York, I visited the home of Diane Brown. She
recently bought her first house with the help of a community-based
organization and HUD dollars, when she could not afford a downpayment
on her own.
I toured Capitol Market in Charleston, West Virginia, a former
rail depot that was converted into a thriving farmer's market with
the help of city, county, and HUD funding.
I pounded nails alongside a family in Maryland, as they worked
with Habitat for Humanity in helping to build - board by board -
their new home.
In what was once a run-down and neglected area of Philadelphia,
I walked through the city's largest neighborhood job creation effort,
and saw for myself the rebirth of a community.
In southwest Detroit, I visited St. Anne's Cooperative Apartments
and the Ser Casa Academy, the work of a successful faith-based housing
program that is funded in part by the community development block
And I got a big thrill in Miami, when I had the opportunity to
take 40 children who live in public housing to a Florida Marlins
game. I don't know who was having more fun - them or me!
These are the people HUD serves. I am proud of what they have accomplished
- often with limited means and few opportunities. I am proud that
we are able to serve them as well as we do. And I am enthusiastic
about the opportunities ahead.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development faces great challenges
as we work to improve the nation's housing for America's families.
President Bush and I are committed to restoring the confidence of
the Congress and the American people in the operation of this agency.
And we will measure our success not by calculating the numbers
of dollars we spend, because that era is past. We will count instead
the numbers of families who get the chance to buy their first home,
the numbers of communities in which hope has been restored, and
the numbers of children who grow up in the kinds of neighborhoods
we all want our children to grow up in.
If you have ever driven through Washington, D.C. - and you have
earned my sympathy if you have - you know that it is a city built
on the concept of the "traffic circle." This creation is intended
to keep traffic moving in a steady flow, while allowing the merging
of the many cars and taxis that regularly choke Washington's streets.
But more often than not, especially for the uninitiated, the traffic
circle becomes an exercise in frustration - because without a doubt,
you will leave the circle traveling in a direction completely different
from the one you intended.
Maybe the traffic circle serves as an apt metaphor for the city
itself, because official Washington has a tendency to go around
and around in circles as well, and where one begins when dealing
with the federal government is rarely where one ends up.
That was a frequent frustration of HUD in the past. But I have
great dreams for our Department, respect for the men and women who
serve it, and compassion for those who turn to us in times of need.
I want HUD to be more than just another circle in what has too often
been this city's traffic pattern of delay and disappointment.
As a newcomer to Washington, I do not expect to have much luck
in eliminating the traffic circle. It is, after all, the Washington
way. But at the very least, my goal as secretary of HUD is to improve
the signage - to keep the traffic moving the right way, even when
we are being pulled in directions we do not necessarily want to
If I can accomplish that, then I will consider my time at HUD
I look forward to working under the leadership of President Bush
to put his vision of better housing for all, and energy security
for all, to work for you. He is offering us a responsive, responsible
road map for the future, and even though we have some traveling
ahead of us, I am certain the destination will be well worth the
Thank you again.
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