The Atlantic's Green Intelligence Forum Calls for Sustaintable Cities
The Atlantic Magazine's "Intelligence Series" is, well, pretty intellectual. Broad thinking about the green economy transpired Nov. 17 here in Washington. The conference combined DOE and White House leaders, top energy industry companies like Shell, big energy users like Boeing, and think tanks like the Brookings Institution and Georgia Tech. Of course, there were plenty of traditional and online blog journalists to cover the confab.
So the nexus of government, industry and the media always makes for lively debate. One common theme among the 150 participating is that with smart grid tech, electric cars or other high mileage fleet vehicles, smart buildings and lower emitting offices, the U.S. is ready to tackle the toughest energy challenges.
Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, wrapped-up the meeting yesterday with a call to arms. "If we can map the genetic code, eliminate diseases, and explore the limits of space, America can do this!" But she strongly stressed that while federal policy and incentives help, improving sustainable cities must "emerge from what communities to locally."
"The next challenge is to grow the clean energy economy," said Sutley. President Obama believes the U.S. already leads the word in clean tech. The $90 Billion American Recovery Act infusion of capital in clean and green techology "has doubled our capacity in renewable energy." Of course, no mention of Solyndra and the DOE's mistakes on funding an insolvent solar panel company.
In fact, at the same time Chairwoman Sutley was closing the Atlantic conference, Department of Energy Secretary Steve Chu was testifying under oath before a House Energy and Commerce Oversight Committee. As LA Times reporter Nella Banerjee reporter noted, he refused to apologize for the investment and denied political favoritism in the loan program: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-chu-solyndra-20111118,0,7894161.story
Secretary Chu rightly noted that Solyndra's failure was one of capitalism gone awry. A slackening solar energy market, the recession, and cheap panels produced in China was Solyndra's undoing. He flatly denied insider dealings at DOE and defended decisions for government subsidies for new green technologies. After five hours of grilling by republicans and a call for Secretary Chu's resignation, they let him go. Congress has since appropriated some $10 billion to cover losses from Energy Department investments that have not provided ROI.
The White House office of environmental quality offered some staggering stats as to US Government energy consumption. The US Government maintains 500,000 buildings and has over 600 million vehicles in its fleet. "The government is the largest user of energy" in our country, said Sutley. The Administration is seeking target reductions of 28 percent and smart building or lower fuel cars to bring the appetite under control.
The Environmental Protection Agency also announced new fuel economy standards this week, as widely reported. But Todd Spangler of the Detroit Free Press broke the news of a 54.5 MPG standard in 15 years. "The targets to be announced by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency... include new rules requiring cars and light trucks to achieve a combined 54.5 miles per gallon by the 2025-26 model years. Tthe first phase of the standards for model years 2012-16 vehicles, will remove the need for as much as 3.8 million barrels of petroleum per day by 2030. Consumers will save thousands of dollars at the pump for gasoline they will no longer need to buy over the lifetime of their vehicles.” said hehe quote.he reported
Sutley said the cheapest way to create energy efficiency is to reduce consumption. Energy use reduction can "lower our bills, spark new jobs and give more capital to business."