Moving to a Clean Energy Future

The importance of our clean energy future goes beyond lowering high gas prices, saving beautiful landscapes and ensuring the health and security of future generations.

This effort is the great challenge and opportunity of our times. We are talking about the future of my home state of Nevada, of America and of our planet. I believe Nevada can lead the clean energy revolution we so deeply need, helping our country regain and embrace a critical global leadership role. We simply cannot let this chance pass us by.

Many of you know about the bright lights of Las Vegas, but long before the Strip, Nevada first offered gold, silver and minerals to the union when it became a state in 1864. We now offer the world unparalleled solar and geothermal resources, and Tuesday, my great state will host the National Clean Energy Summit that we believe will continue to set our energy priorities and action items for the next President and Congress.

With pride and hope, I am partnering with the Center for American Progress Action Fund and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas to host this historic gathering. This is a bipartisan assembly of great minds from all walks, coming together to set a course for ending our dependence on dirty, unsustainable fossil fuel use that hurts us environmentally and economically, and weakens our national security. Look at the current conflict between Russia and Georgia, and once again, oil is right in the center of the dispute. We cannot continue to tie ourselves to these situations that severely limit our economic options.

Joining me in Las Vegas will be President Bill Clinton and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, as well as governors, senators, CEOs, executives, scientists, labor unions and experts from across the political spectrum to talk about creating a clean energy revolution. Our summit will go beyond just words to find realistic action we can take in the coming months and years.

When people are cheering about a drop in gas prices to just below $4 a gallon, something is fundamentally wrong with our nation's approach to safely, affordably and reliably meeting our energy demands. We must act to relieve the burden of high costs in the present and we must better prepare for the future. Passing an extension of federal renewable energy and energy efficiency tax credits is at the top of the list for me. It is past time for our government to do more to spur investment in clean energy to complement and catalyze the growing interest and willingness of the private sector in this critical new industry.

Right here in Nevada, the list of solar projects awaiting Bureau of Land Management approval could power millions of American homes in the not too distant future. The total solar thermal energy potential in the desert Southwest is seven times the nation's entire electricity demand -- enough to consistently charge millions of plug-in hybrid cars and trucks. We also sit atop one of the largest supplies of geothermal energy in the world.

Potential in resources translates to potential in jobs as well. We can bring good-paying jobs to areas of our country that most need them, jobs as sustainable as the energy they will help create. We will need to build and maintain the infrastructure of this new clean energy industry, and demand for skilled labor will be great. Our languishing economy desperately needs this kind of boost, and the longer we wait to begin this revolution here in America, the more likely it is those jobs will be created elsewhere.

This is an ambitious vision, but I believe by working together, we can accomplish these goals. All these hopes and challenges will shape our discussion at the Summit on Tuesday. I hope our event will trigger the crucial next steps in moving America and the world toward a cleaner, safer and more sustainable energy future.