printable banner

U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Remarks at the Transprtation Ministerial Conference

September 14, 2011


 

TRANSPORTATION MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE

 

Remarks
SECRETARY RAY LAHOOD

MAYOR EDWIN LEE

AMBASSADOR NOOR

 

September 14, 2011

San Francisco, CA

 

MS. KURLAND: Yesterday we had a full day with our colleagues from the energy ministries across the APEC region and some of the best minds from the private sector. For the first time, APEC ministers combined the discussion of energy conservation and transportation systems in the same meeting.

This sensible, complete approach to keeping our economies moving and growing in a sustainable and more earth-friendly manner will be continued through the action agenda for the coming sessions.

Last evening's event gave us an amazing event -- gave us an amazing look through a window at new technologies and sustainable transportation, and we'd like to thank the U.S. APEC Host Committee, FedEx, and all of the contributors for that great experience.

Today's work is as equally intense as yesterday's, and without much ado, let's move forward. The first order of the day will be our short opening ceremony. We are very honored to receive a welcoming address by San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee, followed by opening remarks by U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Ambassador Muhamad Noor, Executive Director of the APEC's Secretariat.

Let us begin with a welcome from The Honorable Edwin Lee, Mayor of San Francisco.

The City of San Francisco is legendary: its bay, its hills, its bridges, and its distinct individuality.

Mayor Lee took his position at the beginning of this year, appointed by the City Board of Supervisors to fulfill the un-expired term of the previous mayor, and he was tailor-made to lead this great city.

As a former city administrator, he knows the city inside and out. He has spearheaded efficiency measures, moved towards greener government services, prepared for emergency action in times of disaster, and worked toward inclusion of all people in this multi-cultural city.

He is so well respected that the Board of Supervisors unanimously appointed him. This is quite a statement in these tumultuous political times.

So, with that, let us all welcome Mayor Lee.

[Applause.]

MAYOR LEE: Thank you, Susan.

Good morning.

We are honored to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation here in our great city, and I want to welcome you to San Francisco, which was recently named the greenest city in North America.

This gathering is the perfect opportunity to renew our push for the future that is independent from foreign oil and to take the steps necessary for a more secure, sustainable and prosperous future.

We're doing our part here in San Francisco. San Francisco is proud to be a transit-first city. We favor using public transportation or walking or riding to get around town. Our transit-first policy promotes public health, builds community, and because 100 percent of our public transportation system is powered by either carbon-neutral electricity or bio-diesel, it significantly reduces our greenhouse gas emissions.

We're also building the infrastructure necessary to put in place state-of-the-art public transportation such as high-speed rail, an electrified Caltrain system, expanding our subway network and bus rapid transit.

High-speed rail, as many of you know, really needs to be a part of our transportation future. Many of you are already on the way with high-speed projects in your respective countries. Here in California, in San Francisco, we are trying to lead the way.

This issue is critical to me as mayor, because our economic future depends upon people being able to move throughout our state with ease on roads, rails, and in the skies.

Currently, nearly one-third of all of our air traffic from San Francisco International Airport is for flights from San Francisco to Los Angeles Basin. As many of you have noticed when you flew into our airport, that has no room to expand. What this means is that we have to find ways to shift the San Francisco to Los Angeles short haul traffic out of the skies and onto rails.

By moving toward high-speed rail, we not only improve the transportation system in the state but we also improve our local economy by providing more opportunities for international flights from the Asia-Pacific region and the rest of the world.

In April of this year, I launched a fully funded innovative parking program called SFpark which provides customers real-time information about parking availability and cost, and adjusts parking rates based on that demand. This smart parking management system steers drivers away from more congested areas and toward less congested ones to reduce circling and double parking, speed up public transit times, and create safer streets.

We are working on making the Bay area the electric vehicle capital of the nation. We already have the largest municipal electric vehicle fleet in the country, and we're showcasing electric vehicles in our city fleet, installing nearly 100 publicly accessible electric vehicle charging stations, offering free carbon-neutral public charging, and installing the first electric vehicle battery switch station in North America.

We're also working towards having the cleanest electricity in our city. One hundred percent of our municipal electricity is carbon-neutral. We've closed down two dirty power plants in the city, and we've set an aggressive goal for ourselves to have 100 percent of our electricity city-wide come from renewable energy.

All of the efforts that I just mentioned are a clear indication of our city's full commitment to wean ourselves from foreign oil and provide a sustainable city for our future generations.

It is essential that the city employ sustainable and environmentally sound transportation principles not only for our city's economic and environmental sustainability but also make it important and viable options for our residents.

We are committed to doing our part to promote our nation's independence from oil, jump-starting our green economy, eliminating our dependence on fossil fuels, eliminating a significant portion of our CO2 emissions, and ensuring our sustainable future.

Again, thank you, and welcome to San Francisco.

[Applause.]

MS. KURLAND: Thank you, Mayor Lee, and we will now hear from Secretary Ray LaHood.

SECRETARY LaHOOD: Good morning.

Mayor, thank you very much.

The Mayor is new in this particular job, but he certainly is not new to running the City of San Francisco, and has shown extraordinary leadership. He and I had an opportunity to meet and talk about some of the key issues and key problems that need to be solved, and for those of you that are interested in politics, you'll -- you'll be interested to know that the Mayor is standing for election in November, and there are 37 people that want the job that he has.

So, for those of you that have taken an interest in politics, you can imagine what he is spending most of his time doing, and so, we are really grateful to the Mayor for taking the time to be with us this morning, and I, as all of you, I'm sure, will do, wish him well against his 36 opponents.

But I want to say, Mayor, this is a magnificent city, and your contribution to making San Francisco a magnificent city has been extraordinary. So, thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to join us today.

Yesterday we began our discussion by keying in on strategies for creating jobs, strengthening communities, and protecting our environment and climate at the same time. We addressed transportation's role in clean -- in the clean energy future. We explored methods for developing energy-efficient transportation systems. We identified opportunities to promote environmentally sustainable alternatives to petroleum, and we discussed ways to forge the public-private partnerships necessary to fund these efforts.

Today our work shifts to the related and critically important areas of safety and security, something we're all especially mindful as we mark the tenth anniversary of September

11, 2011; two, strengthening and diversifying our transportation work forces; and three, using transportation investments as a way to promote economic growth and expand trade.

Let me say that President Obama's administration -- these are among our top transportation priorities, along with passing the American Jobs Act, which the President now has sent a piece of legislation to Capitol Hill in the last few days, which will put more people back to work and more money into the pockets of our American workers.

I have said many times that there is nothing more important than safety. It's the first thing we think about at the Department of Transportation every day, and it's the thing that keeps us awake at night. That's why we're working together to strengthen aviation and rail safety. That's why we're reminding people to always fasten their seatbelts and to never drink behind the wheel, and that's why we've taken on the epidemic that I call an epidemic, distracted driving.

When we think of the world's leading causes of death -- heart disease or HIV/AIDS, malaria or tuberculosis -- it's easy to forget that road crashes claim more than 1.3 million lives each year. That's the equivalent of one death every 30 seconds.

The World Health Organization projects that by 2030 traffic accidents will climb to become the fifth leading cause of deaths worldwide. The Global Road Safety Partnership estimates that driver behavior, including distracted driving, is responsible for between 80 and 90 percent of all roadway accidents.

In 2009, I traveled to Moscow for the first global ministerial conference on roadway safety. The Russian president and I issued a call to end the deadly behavior of texting and talking behind the wheel. In 2010, United Nations Secretary General and our ambassador to the United Nations and I met in New York where the Secretary General imposed a directive barring the UN's 40,000 employees from texting messages while operating vehicles on official business.

This past spring, the international community kicked off the United Nations World Health Organization's Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020. Together we're making important progress. Seventeen of the 20 APEC economies and a total of more than 50 nations around the world have passed laws that restrict drivers' use of handheld devices.

Portugal has even outlawed all phone use in the driver's seat, handheld or hands-free. Congratulations, Portugal. And we can do more if we work together.

President Obama's administration and the U.S. Government stand ready to lend our experience to any country looking for ideas about how to change drivers' minds and drivers' habits. At the same time, we're also taking on another major challenge, building the transportation work force of the 21st century, our second theme of the day, and specifically, at the U.S. Department of Transportation, we're connecting women with opportunities to succeed.

For our part, we've taken a number of steps. We've encouraged young women to pursue study in the STEM disciplines. That's science, technology, engineering, and math. STEM is one of our highest priorities in President Obama's administration. We have developed mentorship programs for young women interested in joining the field. We need to get more women into transportation, and we've put in place a pipeline that will bring a new generation of young women into the transportation industries.

The good news is that as we revitalize our nation's transportation system, the opportunities for young women are enormous. We see rising demand for environmental engineers and technicians. We see rising demand for skilled professionals in the high-speed rail business and aerospace industry, or take aviation, where we're making huge technology leaps forward and a transitional from a radar-based air traffic control system to a satellite-based system.

This ground-breaking effort requires a new generation of well-trained experts with technical know-how. In particular, we need a smart new generation of air traffic controllers and flight data coordinators as this generation retires, and we believe women ought to fill each of these essential roles.

As I have had an opportunity during the last two-and-a-half years to meet with CEOs and executives of the airline industry, as I sit around the table with them, I don't see any women heading those organizations up. As I've had a chance over the last two-and-a-half years to sit around the table with the CEOs of the car companies, I don't see any women sitting at those tables.

That's what our goal is, is to allow women to move up to the kind of positions -- where we can really tap into their talent.

So, we're looking forward to delving into the topic of transportation as an economic engine. For one thing, we'll discuss the importance of aviation liberalization so people and goods can move without hindrance across the Asia-Pacific region. For another, we'll talk about aligning the public-private partnerships and other funding mechanisms that make big projects economically viable.

This is the idea behind President Obama's proposal for a national infrastructure bank included in the American Jobs Act. It's also the rationale behind our competitive transportation grants-making program, and over the past two years, it's provided the perfect example of how we leverage local, state, Federal, and private dollars in the service of a simple goal: putting people back to work today while rebuilding our infrastructure for the years ahead.

Ultimately, this points to what I hope we all gain from this conference: new perspectives on how to make smart choices at a time when we're all trying to make the most of every dollar. I think we're doing that in President Obama's administration and at the U.S. Department of Transportation, and I look forward to continuing this valuable exchange of ideas so that we can do even better.

Thank you very much.

[Applause.]

MS. KURLAND: Our next speaker this morning will be Ambassador Muhamad Noor, Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat.

As Executive Director, Ambassador Noor advances APEC's agenda by executing the work programs as mandated by leaders and ministers. He has had a distinguished career in the government in Malaysia, dedicating his life's work to the advancement and prosperity of the Malaysian people.

Let us all welcome Ambassador Noor. Thank you.

[Applause.]

AMBASSADOR NOOR: Thank you.

San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee, Secretary LaHood, honorable ministers, chair, ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the APEC Secretariat, I would like to thank APEC U.S. 2011, the host economy, and the City of San Francisco for hosting this ministerial meeting and for the hospitality extended to us.

Today, I would like to take the opportunity congratulate the Transport Working Group of APEC on its 20th anniversary and to recognize the work of the group, which has been instrumental to implementing both APEC leaders' and ministers' goals and directions pertaining to the movement of people and goods in our region.

The transportation sector is critical to our economic prosperity. Just last week, in his address to a joint session of Congress, U.S. President Obama said that building a world-class transportation system is part of what made America an economic super-power.

The transportation minister meeting today and the first joint energy-transport minister conference yesterday are crucial to APEC's 2011 priorities. As APEC host in 2011, the United States has prioritized concrete initiatives that built a seamless regional economy by achieving outcomes in specific priority areas, including strengthening regional economic integration and expanding trade, promoting green growth, and expanding regulatory cooperation and advancing regulatory convergence.

Moving these priorities forward requires progress -- on this transportation sector.

From yesterday's joint meeting of transport and energy ministers, we note that the transportation sector accounts for more than 60 percent of global oil, 56 percent of global gas, and some 1.5 percent of global electricity consumption. Thus, the sector is heavily dependent on energy, and the APEC energy and transportation ministers had a day of fruitful discussions on issues such as transportation's role for a clean energy future, greening the supply chain, and energy and transportation for low-carbon and livable communities.

This has a direct and meaningful impact on APEC's priority to promote green growth.

Today, we are going to delve further into the transportation sector, focusing on how to balance safety, security, and sustainability for the APEC region. The efficient and safe transportation of people and goods is key to achieving APEC's global goals of free and open trade and investment in our region. This is because the facilitation of trades involves improving the procedures regulating the international movement of goods, which, in turn, depends on the reduction of cost of doing business across boarders, including, notably, transportation costs.

In a world where supply chains are becoming increasingly globalized, regional connectivity is a high priority among APEC. In fact, issues pertaining to the global supply chain, including participation in it, are among the next generation trade issues which have been identified for attention by APEC this year.

In February 2009, APEC's Committee on Trade and Investment, together with the Economic Committee, had a trade policy dialogue to identify the elements to be included in a work program on trade logistics and supply chain connectivity. Under the rubric of APEC's supply chain connectivity initiative, a framework has been developed to identify choke points in the supply chain and the necessary work streams to address these choke points.

The supply chain connectivity initiative identified eight choke points to the smooth flow of goods, services, and business travelers throughout the region. Specifically, three of the eight choke points create impacting bottlenecks related to the transportation sector.

Ladies and gentlemen, in the interest of time, please allow me to now switch gears and talk about another key priority of APEC, security in global trade.

In the aftermath of 9/11, APEC leaders could see that terrorism -- a direct challenge to APEC's vision of free, open, and prosperous economies and to the fundamental values that APEC members hold. We declare to implement individual and joint actions to counter terrorism.

In 2003, the APEC Counter-Terrorism Task Force was established to build capacity and monitor progress in this area, but even before the establishment of the group, leaders launched in 2002 the Secure Trade in the APEC Region, or STAR initiative, in response to the potential threat of terrorism, potential threat of terrorism to global trade. To date, there have been seven STAR conferences where the discussions were focused on policies and procedures to enhance security and efficiency in the APEC's regions' seaports, airports, and other access points.

The STAR initiative also fosters coordination between public and private entities that is necessary to counteract terrorist threats throughout the supply chain.

The next STAR conference, to be held on Thursday and Friday here in San Francisco, will review the APEC regions' progress in securing regional trade and travel over the last 10 years, and will define the key priorities going forward.

In 2005, the APEC framework for secure trade was adopted, which is a set of principles and standards that provide uniformity and predictability within the supply chain. By having one set of standards, the APEC framework facilitates trade by making security requirements less burdensome to businesses and the international trade community.

A number of major counter-terrorism initiatives related to secure trade and APEC have gotten underway since then.

Ladies and gentlemen, as we pursue our goals of free and open trade in the Asia-Pacific region, we should continue to strengthen regional and multilateral efforts to bolster trade security in the region while promoting trade efficiency. The APEC Secretariat looks forward to a successful APEC transportation ministry meeting and to the directions and agenda that the ministers will set.

Thank you.

[Applause.]

###