[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[May 4, 1998]
[Pages 679-682]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks Announcing the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing 
in San Fernando, California
May 4, 1998

    Thank you very much. I think Christy 
did a terrific job. And the rest of her family is out here; we're glad 
you're here. And let me say to all of you how very glad I am to be here. 
I want to thank Congressman Sherman. I know 
that Congressman Berman wanted to be here 
today, but a family emergency prevented him from coming. His daughter 
Lindsey is here; I thank her for coming. 
Thank you, Lieutenant Governor Gray Davis, for 
being here.
    We have a number of people who have been involved in this endeavor: 
William Apgar, who is our Assistant 
Secretary-designate at HUD; Deane Evans, the 
staff director for PATH. Thank you, Bob Vila. Thank 
you, Jeff Lee and Jay Stark, the president and director of development for the Lee 
Group. I thank the Braemar Urban Ventures, who are also a part of this 
    I say a special word of thanks to Don Martin, 
the president of the National Association of Home Builders--came a good 
long way to be with us today, and that shows the kind of commitment we 
have out of this national organization. I thank him very much for his 
remarks and his presence.
    I see a lot of people in the audience, I hesitate to acknowledge 
some for fear of missing others, but I see our L.A. County 
Supervisor, Zev Yaroslavsky, and City 
Councilman Richard Alarcon, former 
Assemblyman Richard Katz, Assemblyman Bob 
Hertzberg. I thank them for coming.
    And I have to make special notice of one person who is here. I don't 
know a more ardent environmentalist than Ed Begley, Jr. He's the first person I ever met who owned an electric 
car. Thank you for coming.
    Ladies and gentlemen, this is a very important day. I know that all 
of us are glad that our country is enjoying good economic times, that we 
have 15 million new jobs, the lowest unemployment in 28 years, the 
lowest inflation rate in 30 years, the lowest crime rate in 24 years, 
the highest consumer confidence in 30 years. We also have another 
accomplishment as a country that's particularly relevant today: We have 
the highest homeownership ever recorded in the history of the United 
    And all of that is very good. The housing market has never been 
stronger. It appears that between now and 2010, we'll have 15 million 
more new homes built in America. It's a great opportunity for the 
American people. But like all the changes going on today, as I have 
repeatedly said, this is not a time for us to be smug or complacent. 
This is a time for us to ask, how can we take advantage of the good 
times we have and the changes that are going on to meet the long-term 
challenges of America?
    And we have a number of long-term challenges. One is to reform 
Social Security and Medicare for the 21st century so the baby boomers 
don't bankrupt the rest of the country. I can say that because I am one. 
[Laughter] Another is to bring the spark of free enterprise to the 
inner-city neighborhoods that haven't yet felt it, to make sure 
everybody has a chance to be a part of the economic future of America. 
Another is to make the most of our rich racial and ethnic diversity so 
that we are even stronger than we have ever been. Another is to build

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a world-class system of elementary and secondary education to go along 
with our system of higher education.
    But all of that requires us to be able to live in our global home on 
free and fair and decent terms with our neighbors around the world. And 
the biggest challenge to that today, in my opinion, is the challenge of 
climate change and global warming.
    There is virtually unanimous--not complete but virtually unanimous--
opinion among scientists that the globe is warming at an unacceptably 
rapid rate. We know, for example, that the last decade is the warmest 
decade in 600 years. It literally--3 years in the 1990's are the warmest 
years since the year 1400. You know in California from the unusual 
severity of this El Nino what these kind of disruptive weather events 
can be like. And we know that if the climate, in fact, continues to heat 
up through the excessive emission of greenhouse gases into the 
atmosphere, we will have more extreme, dramatic weather events, such as 
those you've experienced so frequently in California in the last few 
years, on a more regular basis throughout the United States and, indeed, 
throughout the world.
    We also know what to do about it. We know that we can substantially 
reduce greenhouse gas emissions and we know if we do so, we can--in the 
right way--we can do it and continue to grow the economy at a perfectly 
acceptable rate. Now, it's already been said by previous speakers that 
emissions from homes in America account for about 20 percent of our 
total greenhouse gas emission. Let me try to put that into some 
perspective. Basically a third of the greenhouse gas emissions come from 
transportation, primarily from cars and trucks. About a third comes from 
factories and powerplants. And about a third comes from buildings--homes 
and office buildings, commercial structures. In that third, about two-
thirds of that comes from homes.
    So if we know that we can do things with available technology--and 
you just saw it all demonstrated here--that will actually be profitable 
to homeowners, won't hurt homebuilders, and will help to save the 
planet, by definition, it will put more money into consumers' pockets; 
and by saving the environment, we will generate higher, not lower, 
economic growth. It will improve the productivity of homebuilding and, 
in a very profound way, the productivity of living in homes.
    Now, that's what this PATH project is all about. It will be the most 
ambitious effort ever to help private homebuilders and homeowners make 
cost-effective, energy-saving decisions that will pay big dividends 
throughout the 21st century.
    Now, let me say that we have a specific goal here, and I don't think 
it's an unrealistic one based on what you have already heard and the 
specific examples you saw at the beginning of this event. Over the next 
decade, the goal of PATH is to cut energy use by 50 percent in new homes 
and 30 percent in 15 million existing homes. Keep in mind, there are 100 
million homeowners in America, as our homebuilder leader said. That's an 
achievable goal. If we achieve that goal, it means by the year 2010 
we'll save consumers $11 billion a year in energy costs, reduce annual 
carbon emissions--listen to this--by 24 million tons, equivalent to the 
amount produced each year by 20 million cars. For new homes and old 
ones, therefore, PATH will lead us toward a cost-effective solution to 
help preserve our real home, the planet Earth.
    Now, several weeks ago right here, PATH experts reached out to the 
Lee Group to help identify inexpensive ways of building energy-saving 
features into all the new homes. The results have been dramatic. The new 
technologies suggested by PATH experts--listen to this--here will save 
homeowners in this very moderate climate more than $230 a year on their 
energy bill, $7,000 during the life of the mortgage, without adding a 
dime to the price of the home. In regions where there are greater 
extremes of hot and cold, the savings will be much, much larger.
    The power of this partnership is growing every day. Many Federal 
agencies are working with builders and suppliers to develop even better 
technologies. They're working with State and local officials to 
streamline regulations, and that's very important. That's why I'm glad 
to see so many State and local officials here today. The Los Angeles 
City Council just passed a resolution to help speed PATH projects. When 
homeowners agree to buy ultra-efficient appliances, the Department of 
Water and Power will help to pay any extra cost. Fannie Mae will make it 
possible for more homeowners to qualify for home mortgages, giving them 
credit for the energy savings they will collect in terms of the

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eligibility for their mortgage. And we ought to congratulate MetroLink, 
too, for making it so easy for community members to leave their cars at 
    Now, this collaborative approach to energy savings is the same one 
we're also trying to take with the commercial sector. Remember, 
residential and commercial together are about a third of our greenhouse 
gas emissions. We're working with the owners and the managers of the 
Empire State Building and the World Trade Center in New York, the Sears 
Tower in Chicago, and many other buildings to cut their energy use by up 
to 30 percent.
    It's the approach we're taking in the car industry. Transportation 
is a third of the problem. We've already worked with Ford, GM, and 
Chrysler for 5 years now to help them produce prototypes that will get 
more than twice the mileage of today's cars, with no sacrifice in 
comfort, safety, or performance. And we are on the verge of having 
energy engine technologies in transportation that will reduce greenhouse 
gas emissions by 75 to 80 percent.
    This is the approach that I'm trying to take to this problem in a 
comprehensive fashion. It's why I have asked the Congress to make a 
commitment that is unprecedented but a good investment of $6.3 billion 
over the next few years for research and for tax incentives to mobilize 
these new technologies. Some of the incentives I've proposed, such as 
tax credits for energy-efficient homes or the solar panels you see there 
that are so dramatically different from the huge contraptions that used 
to be necessary to put on roofs, are designed specifically to promote 
the goals of PATH, the ones I've just announced to you.
    Today I hope again I can ask all of you to ask the Members of 
Congress who are here with Brad Sherman and 
don't agree with Howard Berman and Brad to 
actually vote for this. It seems to me that every Republican and every 
Democrat Member of Congress would be for a system of tax credits that 
actually created a win-win situation. It would generate more economic 
activity and less pollution. It will save money for consumers and cut 
down on greenhouse gas emissions by saving natural resources.
    Now let me say again, there are still people in Washington who think 
this is some great plot to wreck the economy. If I'm trying to wreck the 
economy, I've done a poor job of it. [Laughter] Every time in the last 
28 years since we started with the Clean Air Act in 1970, every time we 
have faced an environmental challenge, people have said, ``Oh, if they 
do this, they're going to hurt the economy.'' I have heard it and heard 
it and heard it--whether it was acid rain, pesticides, polluted rivers, 
the ozone hole--everybody said it was terrible.
    Well, guess what? The ozone hole is thickening now. The layer is 
thickening again. We got rid of CFC's, and we did it in a way that 
actually has improved the economy. Every single environmental challenge 
we have met as a country in the last three decades has actually served 
to strengthen the economy by creating a demand for new ideas, new 
technologies, and new businesses.
    So we have generated more jobs, not fewer jobs, by doing the 
responsible thing for our environment. And that's what will happen 
again. These new technologies in our homes, in our cars, our appliances, 
new sources of energy like solar power and fuel cells, working with 
other nations of the world in new partnerships--all these things are 
going to give us a much more well-balanced economy. On the other hand, 
if we don't do it, I will say again, if you liked El Nino for the last 
several months, you will love the 21st century if we keep on the path 
we're on.
    I think the answer is clear. And when someone can stand up here and 
make the kind of very personal testimonial about what it does to your 
living circumstances, like Christy did, 
and then say it enables her husband and her son and herself--it enables 
them to be good citizens by making a statement about what kind of 
environmental values they have--that's the story we want every American 
to be able to tell.
    So I ask you to support the PATH initiative. I ask you to go home 
and examine whether you can do something in your own home to be a part 
of this. I ask you to ask the Members of Congress, without regard to 
party, to make this an American crusade. Because if you think about the 
big, long-term challenges America faces, this is clearly one, and we 
have it within our grasp to meet the challenge in a way that will give 
these little babies that are in this audience a much better life in the 
new century.
    Thank you, and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 10:57 a.m. at a PATH development site. In 
his remarks, he referred to Christy Steindorf, owner of an energy-

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efficient home who introduced the President; Bob Vila, host of the 
television program ``The Renovation Guide''; Jeffrey Lee, president, and 
Jay Stark, director of development, Lee Group; and actor Ed Begley, Jr.