NNSA Administrator Participates in White House Briefing on Climate Change and National Security

Press Release
Sep 10, 2009

WASHINGTON, DC – The nation's leading nuclear security official today participated in a White House briefing on the national security implications of global climate change. Thomas P. D'Agostino, Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), highlighted the role of key NNSA assets in addressing global climate change, including advanced supercomputers being used to model climate change, the development of new technologies that are improving wind turbines, and the potential for the National Ignition Facility to promote advances in fusion energy.

These efforts are a critical example of our nation's investment in nuclear security over the last 60 years helping provide solutions to other critical challenges. 

The following are Administrator D'Agostino's remarks at the White House briefing on climate change and national security as prepared for delivery:

"I am pleased to be here today to speak on behalf of the Department of Energy to deal with one of the most important issues facing our country.

"Under President Obama and Secretary Chu's leadership, we are working to pass historic energy legislation that will create a generation of clean energy jobs here in America, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and prevent the worst effects of climate change – including the national security challenges that were addressed earlier.

"I am a proud Navy veteran who spent nine years on active duty serving in our submarine fleet and close to 20 years serving in the reserves. Last week, the President asked me to stay in my position as the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration so we can continue to implement his nuclear nonproliferation agenda, prevent terrorists from acquiring nuclear weapons and material, and ensure the safety, security and reliability of our nuclear deterrent.  

"I would also like to take a minute to thank Senator Warner.  Of course, we're all grateful for his decades of outstanding service to our country.  But I particularly appreciate his support for me over the years. I wouldn't be here today without it. During my first Senate confirmation hearing, Senator Warner chaired the Senate Armed Services Committee and helped shepherd my nomination through the committee. And, of course, we both share a common heritage in the U.S. Navy. Senator, thank you.

"I've worked in national security policy long enough to know that the threats we face are interconnected. Protecting our national security also means protecting our economic security. And passing a strong energy and climate bill is one of the most important steps we can take to secure our economic prosperity and leave a healthier planet for future generations.

"At the Department of Energy, we are working to make clean energy profitable.  That will drive investments in wind and solar power and promote next generation biofuels. 

"We are working to spark American innovation in fuel efficient automobiles and the development of advanced batteries for electric vehicles. 

"We will offer incentives to re-start our nuclear power industry and encourage utilities to invest in carbon capture and storage from coal-fired power plants. 

"Under Secretary Chu's leadership, the Department is also working to reinvigorate the great American research and innovation machine.

"You wouldn't think it, but my organization, the National Nuclear Security Administration, is providing tools that are playing a critical role in addressing global climate change. For example, we have built some of the world's most powerful supercomputers – which are being put to use tackling these issues. 

"They were built to ensure that we can maintain a safe, secure and reliable nuclear weapons stockpile without underground testing, but they are also being used to model the impact of climate change, identify solutions, and bring cutting edge technologies to market faster.

"At Los Alamos National Laboratory, our Climate, Ocean and Sea Ice Modeling Project is using advanced supercomputing to model changes in sea levels.

"At Sandia National Laboratories, our researchers developed a new wind turbine blade design that promises to be more efficient than current designs and should significantly reduce the cost-of-energy (COE) of wind turbines at low-wind-speed sites.

"At Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, researchers are mapping the impact of climate change on agriculture.

"And, earlier this year, we completed the construction of the National Ignition Facility. Not only is the NIF the world's largest, most powerful laser, but it could hold the key to a clean energy future.

"NIF was built to improve our understanding of the impact of aging on our nuclear weapons stockpile by recreating the fusion reaction that occurs in a nuclear explosion.   It is also bringing us closer to unlocking the potential for clean, unlimited fusion power.

"These are examples of our nation's investment in nuclear security over the last 60 years helping provide solutions to other critical challenges. 

"More importantly, it is an example of what is possible if we, as Americans, truly invest in addressing the challenges before us.

"We have the tools. We know what we need to do.  We know the status quo on energy is unsustainable.  Now, all we need is the will to act.  We need to pass this energy bill.

"So, let me conclude by thanking each of you for being here, and for being leaders in the fight to change our energy economy.  Together, we are working to promote our economic security and our national security. So, thank you very much."

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Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science in the nation's national security enterprise.  NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; reduces the global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad. 

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