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December 20, 2014

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Live coverage: Hillary Clinton talks climate change, energy in Las Vegas

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L.E. Baskow

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and White House adviser John Podesta talk energy together during the Clean Energy Summit at the Mandalay Bay on Thursday, September 4, 2014.

Clean Energy Summit

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid welcomes the crowd back from lunch during the afternoon portion of the Clean Energy Summit at the Mandalay Bay on Thursday, September 4, 2014. Launch slideshow »

Hillary Clinton didn’t hold back her views on climate change during a speech this afternoon at the seventh Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas.

“Sea levels are rising and ice caps are melting,” she said seconds after walking on the stage at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

The former secretary of state has all but announced her run for president in 2016. She used her appearance at the energy summit to send a clear signal that if she does declare her candidacy she will be running on a platform that champions a “clean energy” agenda.

The threat of climate change “is real,” she said.

She trumpeted the growing presence of wind and solar projects across the country and lauded Nevada for investing more than $5.5 billion into renewable energy projects.

Despite the growth of renewables and the phasing out of traditional fossil fuels like coal, Clinton touched on the natural gas boom that has bolstered the country’s domestic energy production and crawl out of recession. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, natural gas emits 50 percent less carbon compared to coal and is looked upon as “bridge” between traditional fossil fuels and renewables.

She called the natural gas production a sign of “American innovation changing the game.”

“Gas is cleaner than coal and expanded production is creating thousands of jobs.” she said.

She said it’s a “false choice debate” that switching from fossil fuels to renewables will cost the economy jobs.

As Gov. Brian Sandoval simultaneously held a press conference to announce Tesla Motors decision to build a battery plant in northern Nevada, Clinton pointed to the electric car maker as a prime example of how jobs in a “clean energy economy” are grown. Tesla is expected to bring 6,500 jobs to the state along with expanded growth in other Nevada markets.

Clinton’s appearance was her first at the clean energy summit. But members of her family and inner circle have carved a deep presence at the annual conference. Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, spoke at the first summit in 2008. Jon Podesta, former chief of staff to Bill Clinton and current counselor for President Barack Obama, has been a staple throughout the years. Dymphna van der Lans, the CEO for the Clinton Climate Initiative, was a panelist at today’s summit.

No one was happier to see the former first lady than the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid. Reid played host at the event along with UNLV, MGM Resorts International, the Clean Energy Project and the Center for American Progress among others.

“When the history is written on the 20th and 21st century there will be a special place for Hillary Clinton, Reid said before introducing Clinton.

As Democrats, Clinton and Reid have a long-standing relationship. Reid was majority leader when Clinton was a Senator for New York. Reid’s son, Rory, worked on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Kyle Roerink is the Sun's state political reporter. He can be reached at [email protected] Washington correspondent Amber Phillips contributed to this report.

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