Biden visits alma mater, discusses power of 'green'

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Vice President Joe Biden discusses the power of "green," with emphasis on wind power, during a visit to the University of Delaware on Monday.
Willett Kempton, associate professor of marine policy at UD, discusses offshore wind power. He is flanked by Vice President Joe Biden, left, and Gov. Jack Markell.
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4:14 p.m., May 4, 2009----Inside Memorial Hall this afternoon, Vice President Joe Biden talked to a small group, mostly clad in dark suits, about a shade of green.

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“Jobs, economic growth and the environment are the same shade of green,” UD alumnus Biden told the approximately 40 people in attendance at the private event.

He noted that for years, politicians argued advancing economic standards and initiatives would cost the American economy jobs. That time, he said, is now past.

The vice president came home to Delaware and the University to tout the multi-layered benefits of offshore wind power.

“It is a new source of job creation, a new place for America to assert international leadership in climate change,” Biden said. “Most important, it is a way for America to build a platform for the economy of the future.”

Biden chose to speak at UD in part because of his fondness for his alma mater, but also because of the University's landmark research into offshore wind power's feasibility and implications. Willett Kempton, associate professor of marine policy in the College of Marine and Earth Studies, spoke on behalf of UD's wind power researchers.

Kempton highlighted UD's commitment to renewable energy, noting the University is the first in the U.S. to offer a course exploring offshore wind power. The result of UD researchers' commitment to offshore wind power as a major source of electricity led to impressive results, he said.

“For Delaware, a historic new source of electricity, at competitive prices,” Kempton said. “For the nation, a new industry.”

Biden applauded the work of Kempton, his colleagues and students on campus.

“This is a premier institution and no more than in the area, the kind of advancements we are talking about here,” Biden said.

Biden brought along U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, to whom he showcased the accomplishments of the state of Delaware and UD. Salazar stated his commitment to renewable energy sources, a commitment mirrored by the administration of President Barack Obama, under which both Biden and Salazar serve.

Salazar said this year he expects 10 to 12 applications from states seeking to build an offshore wind farm, something that has already been approved in Delaware.

While offshore wind farms currently exist in Europe, there are none in the United States.

“Because of the history that the University of Delaware and [the state of] Delaware have with respect to wind power, “ Salazar said, “I expect that Delaware will be at the point of the spear in terms of making this new energy source a reality.”

Biden, Kempton and Salazar were joined at the podium by U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), U.S. Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.), Gov. Jack Markell and UD President Patrick Harker.

Harker highlighted UD's recently announced commitment to cut carbon emissions 20 percent by 2020 while welcoming Biden back to Newark, a place the vice president knows well.

Biden beamed with pride in his alma mater, gushing that he regularly praises the University's reputation. He stated his pleasure in returning to campus for his public endorsement of offshore wind power and the Obama administration's commitment to clean energy.

“I get energized every time I come on campus,” he said. “The students here at the University of Delaware, they get it.”

Article by Andrea Boyle
Photos by Ambre Alexander