State of the Union: Cabinet in Your Community

Department of Commerce


Friday, January 15, 2016

In the days immediately following the State of the Union, Cabinet officials are embarking on the “State of the Union: Cabinet In Your Community” road tour to engage Americans in small towns, big cities and Indian country about the advancements the Administration has made on the most important issues facing the American people, as well as the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. The President will make clear in his State of the Union address that the true test is not the challenges we face, but how we approach those challenges. That’s why he and his Cabinet will keep their feet on the gas in this final stretch to continue driving toward solutions that will move this country forward for generations to come, while highlighting the progress that has been made over the past seven years.


Under President Obama’s leadership, the United States paved the way for a historic climate agreement in Paris, which includes more than 190 countries and lays the foundation for keeping the rise in global temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius. The Agreement accelerates the world’s transition to a clean energy future, encouraging the development and deployment of cutting-edge technologies. No country is better positioned to meet the world’s demand for innovative new technologies than the United States. To highlight the opportunities for businesses and consumers associated with addressing climate change, on Friday, January 15, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker participated in an armchair discussion hosted by the Commons at the Colorado Technology Association. The conversation will highlight Denver-area clean energy businesses, and how they stand to compete and succeed globally following the Paris agreement.

  • The Paris Climate Agreement stands as the most ambitious global agreement to combat climate change. It establishes a long-term durable framework to reduce carbon pollution, with all countries committing to nationally determined targets that will strengthen over time. The agreement lays the foundation for keeping global temperature rise below the level which scientists say will cause the most severe impacts from climate change.
  • President Obama joined 19 other world leaders in announcing Mission Innovation, an initiative designed to dramatically accelerate public and private clean energy innovation. To complement the effort, Bill Gates is spearheading the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, a private-sector led effort to increase private investment in cutting-edge energy technologies.
  • The President’s Clean Power Plan continues to demonstrate U.S. leadership on climate change. The plan is projected to cut carbon pollution from the U.S. power sector by more than 30 percent by 2030, saving more than $30 billion in climate and health-related costs in the process. The Plan gives states flexible, cost-effective tools to cut carbon pollution while making our air cleaner and our homes and businesses more efficient, lowering energy bills, deploying clean energy, and creating jobs.
  • Since President Obama took office, the U.S. increased solar generation by thirty-fold and tripled electricity production from wind power. The increase has occurred as the cost of solar and wind technologies has fallen dramatically thanks to investments in research and manufacturing innovation.

At the Department of Commerce, we are helping communities and business prepare for a changing climate, while also facilitating the success of American companies that are developing and deploying climate solutions.

  • To showcase the U.S. technologies available to help foreign markets meet their climate goals, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker led a Smart Cities, Smart Growth trade mission to China in April 2015. 24 U.S. companies participated in more than 400 group and individual company meetings to help launch joint venture businesses in China in areas such as smart buildings, green data centers, carbon capture utilization and storage, energy efficiency technologies, clean air and water technologies, waste treatment technologies, smart grid and green transportation.
  • The Department of Commerce is developing science-based criteria and guidelines needed to inform mitigation and adaptation planning, and make businesses and communities more resilient to the impacts of climate change. NIST’s Disaster Resilience Framework provides communities with a methodology to guide planning for resilience to the hazards to which they are exposed.
  • Commerce is also helping to manage financial and environmental risk by providing the data necessary to improve decision-making. Businesses, for example, use Census data to plan investments and evaluate financial risk. Data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration underpins weather forecasts and coastal hazard warnings.
  • Strengthening the ability of businesses and communities to prepare for, respond to, and recover from a disruption is a central thread of the Department of Commerce’s resilience efforts. Whether the disruption is a natural disaster, or more persistent losses from climate change (e.g. coastal inundation and changes in precipitation); Commerce works to ensure effective coordination between federal partners and local communities. Its combination of expertise and science-based analytics, paired with long-standing partnerships enable the Department to serve critical needs for the long-term recovery of an affected area and its economy.
  • The Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration is providing market intelligence to help U.S. industry strategically deploy resources for international business development in renewable energy, smart grid, and traditional environmental technologies.
  • The Administration is also working with the world’s major traders of environmental goods and services to negotiate an agreement in the World Trade Organization to eliminate tariffs on products that reduce carbon emissions, increase energy efficiency, and help protect the environment.
  • In 2016, the Commerce Department will lead a Smart Cities trade mission to India to further its efforts to expand the U.S. manufacturing base through export-driven growth in key markets.
  • In 2015, the Administration launched the Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) initiative, a coordinated effort to align federal economic and workforce development programs to assist communities negatively impacted by changes in the coal industry and power sector. The Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, the Small Business Administration, and the Appalachian Regional Commission announced 36 awards totaling nearly $15 million.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is helping improve the efficiency of wind, wave, and solar power generation through the provision of world class forecasts.
  • The Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology launched the Global City Teams Challenge to bring communities and innovators together to encourage collaboration on a range of issues from disaster response to energy management to mass transit improvement. The goal is to help communities and businesses connect to improve resource management and quality of life by using effective networking of computer systems and physical devices, often called the Internet of Things (IoT) or cyber-physical systems.
  • The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration prioritizes environmentally sustainable economic development projects in emerging regional innovation clusters related to energy, cutting-edge environmental technologies, green building practices and sustainable communities that connect jobs to workers. Since 2010, EDA has invested nearly $220 million in environmentally sustainable economic development projects across the country.

The Department’s work amplifies the Administration’s significant achievements to date.

  • President Obama worked with the auto industry to set the highest fuel economy standards in American history that will double the efficiency of our cars and trucks by 2025. In June 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation released a proposal for the next phase of medium- and heavy-duty vehicle fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards, which will cut carbon emissions by 1 billion metric tons.
  • Since 2009, the Department of the Interior permitted more than 57 clean energy utility-scale projects on public or tribal lands. The projects could support over 20,000 jobs and generate enough electricity to power nearly 5 million homes.
  • 117 United States mayors have signed onto the Compact of Mayors pledge. The Compact establishes a common platform to capture the impact of cities’ collective actions through standardized measurement of emissions and climate risk, and consistent, public reporting of their efforts.
  • 154 companies have signed the White House’s American Business Act on Climate Pledge. These companies have operations in all 50 states, employ nearly 11 million people, represent more than $4.2 trillion in annual revenue and have a combined market capitalization of over $7 trillion.
  • 311 colleges and universities representing over 4 million students have demonstrated their commitment to climate action by joining the American Campuses Act on Climate Pledge.
  • The Administration launched Solar Ready Vets, an initiative to train transitioning veterans to enter the solar workforce and meet our goal to train 75,000 people to enter the solar workforce by 2020.
  • The Administration secured more than $4 billion in private sector commitments and actions to scale up clean energy innovation and technologies that reduce carbon pollution.
  • In April 2015, the Department of Energy released the federal government’s first Quadrennial Energy Review Report, with a focus on our nation's energy infrastructure.
  • The President’s Better Buildings Challenge enlisted more than 250 partners in cities, states, utilities, manufacturers, school districts, and businesses to improve energy efficiency. Since 2011, they've saved 94 trillion units of energy and $840 million.
  • In 2014, the Department of Energy issued 9 proposed and 10 final energy conservation standards for appliances and equipment. If all are finalized, when combined with current rules, the energy savings will cut consumers' electricity bills by hundreds of billions of dollars.
  • In 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency issued proposals to further reduce emissions of methane-rich gas from new, existing, and modified municipal solid waste landfills. The proposals are expected to reduce methane emissions by 487,000 tons a year beginning in 2025.
  • In December 2013, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum directing the federal government to buy at least 20% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

Related content

Last updated: 2016-01-15 15:52

Bureaus & Offices