Joe Biden: 'We have to know how woefully behind our energy infra - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Joe Biden: 'We have to know how woefully behind our energy infrastructure is'

Posted: Updated:
Joe Biden, the 47th Vice President of the United States and Ernie Moniz, former secretary of energy and CEO of the Energy Futures Initiative, meet at Mitchell Hall on the campus of the University of Delaware for the "21st Century Clean Energy Solutions", Joe Biden, the 47th Vice President of the United States and Ernie Moniz, former secretary of energy and CEO of the Energy Futures Initiative, meet at Mitchell Hall on the campus of the University of Delaware for the "21st Century Clean Energy Solutions",

When he campaigned for president in 2007, Joe Biden said one of his top priorities would be energy security.

Now a private citizen, though some speculate a 2020 run is in his future, the former vice president made energy and innovation a topic of conversation during a Tuesday discussion with former Energy Secretary Ernie Moniz at the University of Delaware's Mitchell Hall.

"We have to know how woefully behind our energy infrastructure is," Biden said during his opening remarks.

The Tuesday event was a partnership between the Biden Institute and the Delaware Environmental Institute.

Biden and Moniz, who worked together in the Barack Obama administration, spent more than an hour talking about the state of energy and innovation in the United States and discussed a potential path forward for industries with changing futures.

Moniz, who served as the U.S. Secretary of Energy from 2013-2017, is CEO of the Energy Futures Initiative and co-chairman of the board and CEO of the Nuclear Threat Initiative. During introductions, Biden credited Moniz for his role in brokering the Iran nuclear deal and assisting in the Paris climate agreement.

"Even though the president decided to walk away, the rest of the world is not walking away," Biden said.

Biden and Moniz touched on topics ranging from natural gas pipelines to the electrical grid and problems facing Americans, both in the energy workforce and out.

The latest "Infrastructure Report Card" from the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the United States a D+. An issue ASCE says, that Biden reiterated Tuesday, is a lot of the U.S. infrastructure predates the 21st century.

Another big reason for concern in the industry is filling jobs.

"Seventy-three percent of employers in the energy industry are having a difficult or very difficult time filling jobs," Moniz said.

Biden said an issue and a reason for concern was a stigma attached to many energy industry jobs. He said people with traditional college educations look at coal workers or electricians like they're incapable of doing more. The focus needs to be going back to training a workforce for non-traditional jobs, Biden said.

"People out there, they're smarter than we think they are," he said.

Biden told a story about seeing a childhood friend over the holidays that he grew up with in Claymont. The friend, a former truck driver, expressed concern for his truck-driving son, who is worried his job will be lost to automation in 3 to 5 years.

"We're not preparing them," Biden said. "And there are so many opportunities in this field."

Biden, who many think is positioning himself to challenge Donald Trump in 2020, recently made headlines defending Sen. John McCain from a Trump administration insult Biden said hit "rock bottom."

Ever the storyteller, Biden also told a story about McCain from early in their political careers. Biden was trying to get money for transit in the northeast and McCain argued that his mother in Arizona shouldn't have to pay for someone in Philadelphia or New York to get to work. Fine, Biden said, let's eliminate funding from the water projects.

"The system was designed to compensate," Biden said. "Were it not for the Hoover Dam or other billion-dollar projects, there would still be an arid desert in Arizona and in California. It's about growing America."

Biden and Moniz took questions from the audience. They heard from, among others, a Delaware Environmental Institute associate director, a recent graduate from Del Tech's solar program, a pastor and a pair of elementary and middle school-aged brothers who displayed keen knowledge of nuclear and renewable energy.

A student ambassador with the Delaware Institute asked, Will sustainability ever be depoliticized?

"Reality has a way of intruding," Biden said. "I don't think people understand what's at stake."

"To get there, it's going to require our addressing economic inequality issues," Moniz said.

In other words, more discussions like Tuesday, with more action after.

More: Decency in Trump administration hit rock bottom with McCain dying 'joke,' Biden says

More: John McCain, battling brain cancer, tells Biden to stay in politics

More: 'Too many children are being hurt': former VP Joe Biden surprises Delaware March for Our Lives rally

Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 KFMB-TV. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.