In May I joined other leaders from Silicon Valley companies on a packed three-days of meetings with leaders in Washington, DC. I joined to focus on energy issues, primarily to encourage greater use of energy efficiency in all upcoming energy legislation and ensure its use in any climate change legislation. My basic tenant was that energy efficiency is the quickest and lowest cost method of providing direct and immediate positive economic benefits to the American economy and all tax payers while reducing our environmental impacts, and furthermore, when used to reduce an imported energy supply, such as oil, also improve our national security and reduce our need to meddle in ‘oil-related’ foreign affairs.
Energy efficiency is not only important in our homes and places of business, but even more so with our transportation machines (car, planes, trucks, buses, ships, aircraft, trains, etc), as that provides the most direct and quickest benefits to the above, especially as fuel oil prices rise providing an economic ‘cushion’, and the most benefits to avoiding wars and foreign affairs challenges. It is also an area of great technological prowess in which can stimulate the US economy and help us become a leader and exporter of these products and services, so a very large net benefit.
Because climate change is frightening to all and politically coal states, as they tend to create the majority of climate changing emissions, I proposed to Republican Senators of coal states that 100% of the funds raised from any emissions caps or taxes be used within the same region as collected towards energy efficiency upgrades, providing a long-lasting and financially and economically positive net benefit, as well as health, environment and other benefits.
During this trip, I had meetings with: the Honorable Pelosi, Lofgren, Honda and others; Senators Boxer, Feinstein and several others; Administrator Lisa Jackson (EPA); Tom Pyke, CIO DOE; Linda Ulrich and others of the Office of Governor Schwarzenegger; Members of the White House staff, including: Van Jones, (Special Advisor to the President for Green Jobs), Carol Browner (Asst to the President for Energy & Climate Change), Vivek Jundra (Federal CIO), Beth Noveck (Dir of Open Gov’t), Dr. Christina Romer (Council of Economic Advisors), Matt Rogers (Special Advisor to Secretary Chu); and others.
I can say from my meetings three certain things: 1) the economy is the number one priority and the President has a great staff focused on the issue and providing the President daily detailed updates; 2) good energy policy is essential to our long-standing human, economic and environmental health and the Administration is trying to achieve it in balance with so many political challenges, and I believe this same belief is shared amongst all, it’s merely the speed and details of execution; 3) that climate change legislation will happen this year but not without a myriad of political bartering and compromises.