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Opening Remarks OAS Caribbean Regional Sustainable Energy Seminar

US Ambassador to Bahamas
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Sheraton Resort, Cable Beach, Nassau

Distinguished representatives of governments, distinguished members of the diplomatic corps, distinguished visitors, ladies and gentlemen.

Good morning.  I have the distinct honor and pleasure to appear before you today as United States Ambassador to The Bahamas to make some preliminary remarks as we embark on this timely and important conference on sustainable energy.

We have a distinguished group of participants today, including energy officials and energy producers from across the Caribbean, along with representatives of the Organization of American States, the Inter American Development Bank, and the Inter American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture.  Also joining us are participants from the Caribbean Community, regional banks, the United Nations, and representatives of assistance agencies from the EU, Canada, and the U.S.

We are especially privileged to have with us today Ambassador Albert Ramdin, OAS Assistant Secretary General, and the Honorable Earl Deveaux, Minister of Environment for the Government of The Bahamas.  I would also like to recognize other energy ministers from across the Caribbean, including St. Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Jamaica, and Barbados , a warm welcome to one and all.

My fellow colleagues, now is the time for action on developing renewable and sustainable energy.  Everyone here knows how sky-high oil prices are straining government and household budgets through the region.  Caribbean economies are especially vulnerable to external shocks of this kind, making planning and economic development all the more difficult.

And larger economies in the Western Hemisphere, including the United States, are by no means immune from the dislocating effects of these high energy prices. It is critical that all of us identify ways to improve energy efficiency and security.

Precedent for change exists in the hemisphere, as shown by Brazil’s shift to cane-based biofuels for automobiles.  The Caribbean can reduce oil dependence as well by taking advantage of wind and solar power resources it has in abundance.

With much higher fossil fuel prices, it is now more cost effective than ever to use new technologies that once were deemed too expensive.  Fortunately, Western Hemisphere leaders are focused on our shared energy challenges and we applaud the work of the Organization of American States on energy diplomacy.

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