He may have preferred to be the governor of California, but former State Treasurer Phil Angelides is hoping his new role as the national chairman of the Apollo Alliance, which seeks to hasten the nation's transition to clean energy technology, can have a significant impact on the lives of Californians. In the following speech delivered at the "It's Time to Move L.A.!" Conference, Phil Angelides challenges Los Angeles to use its vast public and private resources to make a sustainable reality for its citizens.
Your gathering here today is a reminder that common investments, public investments, in schools and parks and transit, are the foundation, the fabric, of our shared future and the foundation of our sustained economic progress. The fact is, if you look at the riches we have in this state and nation, we have always moved forward when we've blended the innovation and entrepreneurship of the private sector with the use of our public and common wealth to invest in those things that support a growing and dynamic economy.
I'm coming to you today as a private citizen, or as some would say, I'm back in the private sector by popular demand...I come today as the national chairman of the Apollo Alliance. For those of you who do not know what the Apollo Alliance is, we are a coalition of environmental, labor, business, and community social justice leaders who are committed to catalyzing a clean energy revolution in this nation. We believe that we can convert the enormous challenges ahead of us-the threat of global warming, our nation's dependence on foreign oil, national security risks that derive from our use of fossil fuels, the economic impact of $100-per-barrel gasoline-into a new wave of economic opportunity and a new sustainable economy for this country if we make smart investments in technology, in the skills and education of our people, and in goods like mass transit that will allow us to move away from the old carbon economy to the new post-carbon economy of the 21st century.
We believe that we can do this if we make the same kind of commitment that this nation has made under great stress at other times-if we do what John Kennedy did in 1961 as the Russians raced ahead of us in the Space Race, when he committed this nation in 1961 to land a man on the moon by the end of the decade. What we did as a nation then was to mobilize engineers, scientists, business people, workers-a broad coalition of Americans. We achieved our goal, and most importantly, we created a new generation of wealth and opportunity for our economy and society.
I'm with you this morning because I believe that what we need to do in Los Angeles to ensure our economic supremacy and a distinctive quality of life is to launch our own Apollo Project here in Los Angeles-to end the traffic gridlock that's gripping this city, and to do so by the end of this decade, to lay down the foundation for a better environment, economy, and quality of life, and to make Los Angeles not a rhetorical, but a realistic, model of sustainability for other metropolitan areas to follow.
Why not now? We know the impacts; we see them in our daily lives. But as we gather here today, we're at a turning point. Los Angeles is clearly a place of enormous potential. Here we are, one of the wealthiest and most productive economies and societies in the world's history, an economic powerhouse with a gross metropolitan product of $580 billion a year, the 17th largest economy in the world, the home to technology and entertainment and industries that power not just this region but the state and the nation.
We're also in the midst of a transportation crisis that will knock out the underpinnings of this strength if we do not act now. Just take a look at what's happening. This crisis, this gridlock, is sapping our economic strength. Each year, gridlock costs $9.3 billion in extra fuel, wasted time, and lost productivity. Companies decide not to expand or locate in this region. There is a dramatic effect on our environment: 40 percent of the CO2 emissions come from vehicles, and, in an era when we need to move away from fossil fuels, Los Angeles County is using 4 billion gallons of gasoline a year on our roadways. And of course, we all know the price of being away from home and family and community.
So, Los Angeles faces a choice. Do we take the low road or the high road? We know where the low road leads: more sprawl, air pollution, and a weakened economy-short-term savings with long-term economic detriment. But there is a better way; there's a high road to prosperity where we commit to using our wealth to invest in our future, to build a city that is truly the most livable, with the cleanest environment-a region that can compete for and win the high-wage and high-skilled jobs of the future in this global economy...
...So today I'm asking you to do what Americans do best, what Californians do best, and what Angelenos do the very best: blend public investment with innovation and entrepreneurship in this private sector to secure our future. There are three things I'd like you to think about doing today: first of all, I urge you to mobilize and to build an effort here for a central policy around transportation, because with the election of a new president in 2008 and the convergent pressures of global warming and oil dependency, we have an extraordinary opportunity for fundamental sea change in transportation policy at the federal level. The Transportation Act is coming up for reauthorization in 2009, and we have an obligation to make sure that we build a strong coalition to turn the "aircraft carrier" policy of Washington toward the policies of transit, smart growth, and adequate funding for this region.
The fact is that there will be global warming legislation. There will be a cap-and-trade regime that will allow the auction of credits that could produce up to $100 billion of new revenue through new technology and investments in mass transit. We have an obligation to help push federal policy forward at this dramatic and important time. And with Barbara Boxer as head of the Environment and Global Works committee, we have an extraordinary opportunity to make a difference. So, mobilize to impact federal policy.
Second, don't let the state off the hook. We are the eighth-largest economy in the world. We have a $1.3 trillion economy. The budget deficit is more a function of lack of will than anything else, and if we're going to be the global leader in fighting global warming, we cannot approve a budget that cuts money from public transit. The governor cut $1.3 billion last year from the public transit budget, and I suspect that when he unveils the new budget, he'll propose to do it again. We need to stand up and say no, and we need to fight for a fair and reasonable budget that provides transit funding for this region.
While we fight at the federal and state level, let's move forward with an agenda in this region that blends transit innovation and investment with the future needs of this region. Let's build a broad coalition to find the fair and progressive revenues to fund the transit improvements we need, to make sure that we tie smart growth development to transportation and truly encourage the development of Los Angeles as a transit-oriented development community. Let's put in place policies to reduce single-occupancy vehicles on the roads. Let's make sure we provide incentives, whether for congestion pricing or incentives for flexible hours to reduce city traffic. Let's make sure that we've adopted a set of policies that provide mobility and opportunity for everyone in this region, even the poorest among us and those working hard who are the backbone of our economy.
The benefits will be enormous. For every billion dollars we invest in transit, we create 30,000 permanent jobs. It would create $900 million in additional economic activity. For every ten percent we reduce vehicle miles traveled in California, we take 280 million tons of emissions out of our air. For every hour we save people on the freeway, it's an hour with their families, with their kids after school. We enrich our lives and our communities.
I've always envisioned Los Angeles as having an extraordinary opportunity in the next five, ten, 15, 20 years, to convert itself from a post-war, auto-dependent community to one of the world's best transit-oriented, walkable communities. We can do it. It requires the right kind of land use policies and it requires the right kind of investment in transit. This is the most dynamic city in America. We can make this happen.
Let me close with this thought. This isn't going to be easy. There are going to be a lot of obstacles, a lot of naysayers, a lot of special interests tearing for their piece of the piece. But I want to recall what President Kennedy said when announced our decision to go to the moon. He said, "We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do other things not because they are easy, but because they are hard. We choose to go to the moon because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills." President Kennedy picked a challenge and backed it with bold action. Interestingly enough, at the time that he made that statement, the national economy was $600 billion a year, the same size of Los Angeles today. John Kennedy did committed $3.5 billion a year to the program to move this nation forward. We succeeded. I want to say that if the previous generation that came before us could do so much to explore the heavens, certainly we can commit ourselves to building a broad coalition to invest in the future of Los Angeles. I know we can win this. We must win it. I look forward to working with you.