Kamala Harris photo

Remarks by the Vice President at a Transmission Line Groundbreaking Event in Tonopah, Arizona

January 19, 2023

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, all. Thank you. Good afternoon, everyone. Good afternoon. Please have a seat.

Kyle, thank you for those words and for your work. I had the great pleasure of spending a little bit of time with Kyle and his colleagues on the other side of this tent, talking about their work. And it's extraordinary what you guys are doing. It's highly skilled work. It is transformational work.

I asked Kyle to explain a little bit about, you know, if you're talking with folks, to help them understand what it involves, what do you talk about, how do you feel about it.

And he said, "You know, it's more than a job." He said, "It's a lifestyle." He said you -- "It takes time away from your family, but you make incredible friends that become like family in terms of being on the ground and doing this work."

So, Kyle, thank you so very much. Thank you. We can applaud all that he and his colleagues are doing. (Applause.)

And thank you to all the linemen of the IBEW. I will say it is great to be back in Arizona.

Governor Katie Hobbs, I want to thank you for your leadership and for welcoming us to this beautiful state.

We are joined today also by two true champions in the fight against the climate crisis, and of course that is the Secretary of Energy, Jennifer Granholm, and the Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland. Thank you both for your leadership. Thank you. (Applause.)

And it is also good to be here with the leaders of Ten West and CAISO. Thank you for all that you are doing. This is truly a partnership.

So, you know, when I was a child, my family would take road trips, like I'm sure many of us. And I remember sitting in the backseat of my mother's Dodge Dart. It was yellow; she let us pick out the color. (Laughs.)

And we'd be sitting in the backseat, me and my sister, and trying to, you know, figure out how to occupy the time. I'll date myself by saying sometimes we would occupy the time by counting how many VW Bugs that we saw drive by. (Laughs.) People are nodding.

But also, sometimes, just looking out the window. And I remember watching the miles and miles of electric wires flash by the window. And it was -- it was kind of mesmerizing to just see those lines as we were driving the roads. And those wires, they seemed endless.

Well, let's think about it. Today, America has more than half a million miles of transmission lines, enough to wrap around the globe 24 times. These lines connect the power plants, where electricity is created, to homes and businesses and schools and hospitals across our nation.

Think about it: Every time you turn on a light or charge your laptop or plug in your air conditioner or put leftovers in the fridge, you rely on the power delivered by our nation's network of transmission lines. And that network is in desperate need of an upgrade.

So, America is at the start of an historic transition away from fossil fuel plants that pollute our communities and toward cleaner and safer energy sources.

Today, on the plains of Kansas, off the shores of New York, and in the deserts of Arizona, our nation is building new sources of energy -- in particular, new wind and solar farms, which generate clean power for millions of families.

But there's a challenge. Those wind and solar farms are often far away from the communities that they power. In many cases, the infrastructure we need to move clean electricity from where it is created to where it is most needed has not yet been built.

And so, to create our clean energy future, we must construct thousands of miles of new high-voltage transmission lines all across our country.

And that is why we are here today.

The Ten West Link transmission line will stretch from Arizona to California. It will deliver electricity from wind and solar farms out here in the desert, to big cities like Phoenix and Los Angeles and San Diego, and to rural communities like Blythe and Quartzite -- Quartzsite. This electricity will be clean electricity. Solar panels and wind turbines do not produce toxic fumes that poison our air or dangerous chemicals that poison our water.

And the energy delivered by these lines will not just be cleaner, it will also be cheaper. On average, you see, clean electricity is less expensive than electricity generated from traditional sources.

And more transition to transmission lines means more clean energy for our communities. And that means more money in the pocket of the American people, more money to buy groceries, to invest in home repairs, to pay for your kid's college, and to save for your retirement.

New and upgraded transmission lines will also help make sure communities have enough power to meet peak demand, which will increase energy reliability, which means it will help prevent against that one bad storm or wildfire that knocks out the lights.

That's fewer blackouts, fewer summer nights without the A/C, and fewer of those cell phone alerts that tell you to turn off or reduce nonessential power so the grid doesn't overload.

And all of this also creates jobs -- good-paying jobs, union jobs. Jobs for IBEW linemen who will build and repair these lines. Jobs for young people looking to start a career in clean energy and the clean energy economy. Jobs that will help our nation finally take on the climate crisis as the crisis that it is.

You know, for years, we have witnessed the impact of the climate crisis. For years, we have also experienced the impact of the climate crisis.

Communities have been wiped out by wildfire, destroyed by hurricanes, and choked by deadly heat.

Here in Arizona, record-breaking droughts have made access to clean water increasingly uncertain.

In my home state of California, over the last month, records have been set. Rain has flooded neighborhoods and washed away farmland. And at least 20 people are dead, including a child, in this most recent episode.

And yet, for far too long, our nation has not acted with the urgency the climate crisis demands. And here's the thing: It's not because the science has been unclear. Scientists have warned us for years about the dangers of greenhouse gas emissions.

It's not because we lacked solutions. We know how to reduce our emissions and protect our communities. No. None of that.

It's because we have failed, for so long, to have folks who are fighting for action -- you know, so many so-called leaders who lacked the political will and courage to act.

Well, now I think we've turned the page and there's consensus across all kinds of lines: that it's time to take this crisis seriously, that that time has arrived.

And so, last year, we all joined together -- activists and organizers, parents and students, Native leaders, civil rights leaders, business leaders, and union workers. And together, we made the largest investment to fight the climate crisis in American history.

And today, across our nation, we are putting that investment to work.

We are breaking ground on a solar panel factory in Alabama, a battery factory in Michigan, and a semiconductor factory in Chandler.

So, Arizona, I'm here today because this project demonstrates a very important point. It shows that when we invest in climate, we also invest in families, in communities, in opportunity and prosperity for all people.

When we invest in climate, we build a safer, cleaner, healthier, more just, and more prosperous country.

When we invest in climate, we invest in America.

May God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

Thank you all. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Kamala Harris, Remarks by the Vice President at a Transmission Line Groundbreaking Event in Tonopah, Arizona Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/359409

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