Thanks everyone for being here today in this historic place.
The Johnson Space Center stands as a monument to the power of the human intellect a tribute to what Americans can achieve in pursuit of a bold vision and a testimony to the can-do spirit that makes our nation great.
This Saturn 5 rocket behind me exemplifies the greatness we can achieve through determination, vision and teamwork.
For eons, mankind gazed in wonder at the moon but bright minds working in Texas and beyond answered a president's bold challenge and put explorers on its surface.
I am here today, with representatives of our state's top research universities, to propose a Texas version of that legendary "race to the moon" to tackle a massive problem that is facing the Gulf States and our nation's energy industry.
For nearly three months, we have gotten daily reminders of an ongoing environmental disaster that began with the tragic death of 11 workers on the Deepwater Horizon and has grown to an unprecedented scale wreaking environmental and economic havoc in the Gulf.
Just two days ago, the first tar balls from this ongoing leak reached Texas shores washing up on Galveston's East Beach and onto Crystal Beach on the Bolivar peninsula and were quickly cleaned up by the Texas General Land Office in conjunction with the Coast Guard.
I want to assure Texans that we are taking aggressive steps to address this situation and mitigate any effects to our beaches and that we are taking the necessary measures and using all available resources to protect the Texas coastline.
Once the explosion, we have all watched in frustration as one attempt after another has failed to stem the flow of oil. We must do better.
We must do better at preventing disasters of this kind and quickly controlling those that might occur.
We must do better at limiting the impact of such spills with better training and technology for cleanup crews.
We face a clear decision that will have ramifications on our environment, on our economy and in our communities.
Will we continue this perpetual cycle of disaster, frustration and blame?
Or will we take deliberate, proactive steps to improve the safety of exploration, drilling and production both on land and on the ocean floor.
Fortunately, Texas is home to the brightest minds in the energy field men and women working in the private sector in public service and at our prestigious universities.
Today I'm calling on these institutions, these industries and these individuals to join forces pool their vast intellectual capital and begin to work together toward solving the unique challenges presented by the next generation of drilling.
I am announcing the formation of the "Gulf Project" representing an unprecedented collaboration of the state's top scientists, engineers and researchers focused on a clear set of vitally important goals of protecting our residents, our environment, and our economy.
I've asked its members to prepare a comprehensive road map that will lead us to our destination ensuring such a disaster doesn't happen again.
We need new techniques and facilities to test the safety and reliability of current and next-generation equipment.
I'm told that NASA might have facilities that could handle that.
We also need new technology to better monitor wells while they're being drilled and while they're in production.
We need better technology to quickly control and minimize any spills that might happen along with better-resourced and trained spill management teams.
We also need the help of the oil and gas industry in the form of its professional insight and much-needed funding for this effort.
The industry stands to lose plenty as a result of the ongoing disaster and they have that much more to gain by getting involved with the Gulf Project.
Put simply, we need to make sure we're never in this position again. Together, we can make that happen.
Our state is already a hotbed of world-class research including research into the effects of corrosion at Rice University and superconductivity at the University of Houston.
The University of Texas and Texas A&M are partners in the Offshore Research Technology Center and SMU has the Maguire Energy Institute.
These efforts are joined and supported by groups like the Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America or RPSEA.
Individually, and often in collaboration they're pursuing a variety of research goals but, together, I believe they can help us reach this major goal a whole lot faster.
Speed is of the essence because, frankly, we don't have time to waste.
Some have reacted to the Deepwater Horizon accident by calling for a moratorium on all drilling or proposing mountains of new regulations based more on prevailing emotions than on sound science.
That sort of passionate response is possibly understandable but it is neither appropriate nor is it likely to solve the actual problem in the Gulf.
Considering our growing energy needs it's not realistic, either.
The Gulf Project will produce the kind of sound science that leads to informed decisions and a new era in which energy exploration is not only safer for the men and women working the rigs but also much safer for the environment.
Texas must take the lead on this effort because Texas knows energy.
From the derricks that sprung up around the Spindletop strike in the early days of the 1900s to the wind farms of today that make Texas the top producer of wind power in the country Texas has been synonymous with energy production and technology in the United States and beyond.
We're perfectly suited to lead the effort into improving safety and reliability in our continued quest for new and better sources of energy.
The Texas spirit dictates that every challenge can be overcome no matter how daunting the circumstances no matter how difficult the execution.
Working together, the best of Texas can solve this problem.
Now, I'd like to bring up someone who can speak a bit more about the efforts at RPSEA, Board Chairman Dr. Stephen A. Holditch, of Texas A&M Dr. Holditch?