The America's Future Now gathering in D.C. just wrapped up today. I haven't been able to post a lot about the panels and talks that went on over the past three days, but probably the most interesting speech I heard came from Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, talking about the energy bill working its way through Congress.
Adam Siegel at GetEnergySmartNow has a good post up about with excerpts:
If I’d been here a year ago, I would have talked to you about three things: The need to transform energy economy, create jobs, and tackle global warming. ... About the third, during the campaign, I spoke it about every single night. People asked me why, as it was 21st on people’s concerns. I responded: it should be first on everyone’s agenda and the only way it will be is if we talk about it.
... If I am going to simplify the issue, we have to quit taking geologic carbon and turning it into atmospheric carbon.
... In the past, people have described the Senate as the place where a good House bill goes to die. ... We need to change that. We need to reestablish the Senate as a place where an okay bill goes to get vastly improved.
... There is the possibility that we will end up with a framework that is ineffective, that has offsets, that doesn’t have a firm cap. ... Or, we could end up with something that could really transform our use of energy. Obviously, we’re going to have to work real hard to get from the former to the latter.
The whole session was fascinating -- including the speech by Sierra Club president Carl Pope, who talked at length about how the federal government's fickle ways on energy have been killing our ability to create green jobs. (You can watch it all here.) The classic case of this involves the reality that even though wind turbine transformers require elements mined from American soil, China is the world's leading manufacturer of them.
And if you don't believe that "green energy" is going to be the key to restoring America's position as the world's leading economy, check out this report about the fact that investment in that sector is rising at a sharp rate:
Green energy overtook fossil fuels in attracting investment for power generation for the first time last year, according to figures released today by the United Nations.
Wind, solar and other clean technologies attracted $140bn (£85bn) compared with $110bn for gas and coal for electrical power generation, with more than a third of the green cash destined for Britain and the rest of Europe.
The biggest growth for renewable investment came from China, India and other developing countries, which are fast catching up on the West in switching out of fossil fuels to improve energy security and tackle climate change.
You all may remember Senator Merkley from his C&L live chat. We supported him strongly in the 2008 election because we believed he was capable of demonstrating real progressive leadership. It's obvious that he's living up that in spades.