Published Thursday, Oct. 7, 2010 | 3:49 p.m.
Updated Thursday, Oct. 7, 2010 | 3:52 p.m.
Federico Pena, former secretary of transportation and energy under the Clinton administration, is in Las Vegas today campaigning for Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on the issue of clean energy.
Increasing America's reliance on renewable resources is an environmental issue, Pena said. Using solar, wind and other alternative energies will help preserve the Earth's resources.
But more importantly, it's an economic and national security issue, according to Pena.
The United States spends at least $300 billion a year on foreign oil. The nation imports 70 percent of its oil stocks.
"One of the top national security issues for our nation is our dependence on foreign oil," Pena said. "If we're serious about our national security, we need to invest in renewable energies and our transmission lines."
Such an investment would also create jobs.
"While people are losing jobs in the automobile sector and manufacturing, they can be retrained in clean energy," Pena said. "The community colleges are training kids in this, especially minorities."
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle has called clean energy jobs "designer jobs," an assertion that offends Pena. Angle believes America should rely instead on coal and natural gas, as well as off-shore drilling, to counter its dependence on foreign oil.
Those ideas didn't fly with Pena.
"It's almost like she's completely out of touch with what's happening in the west and throughout the country," Pena said. "These are real jobs. All you have to do is go see these plants, go see the workers."
"If these were designer jobs, if this was fluff, why on earth would China be investing billions of dollars in wind, thin solar panels, battery technology?" Pena asked. "We're in a race with them. Angle doesn't understand where the world is going."
Pena said that Reid, on the other hand, has secured millions of dollars for clean energy projects, most of which have created jobs for Nevadans.