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Business Voice for the Environment
November 29, 2011
Monday, June 17, 2019 (12:00 PM - 2:00 PM Eastern)
EcoSalon read more >

- Honoring Wendy Schmidt, Eric Schmidt and Arianna Huffington
- Inaugural Advocacy Training and Hands-on Lobbying Experience
- How Clean Energy is Saving Lives and Money for our Armed Forces
- E2 New England Meets with Legislative Leaders to Highlight Success
- Clean and Local Fuels for a Strong Northwest Economy
- Meet our new E2 Program Assistant
- Network, Learn, and Discuss E2's Issues with Other Members
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We tried something new this year: an open invitation to all E2 members to join us in Washington DC for the first E2 Forum, a day of training and briefings, followed by meetings with members of Congress on Capitol Hill. Nineteen members joined us for this first E2 Washington Forum. They came from around the country, with widely different industry backgrounds. A number of the participants were new to advocacy work, while a few had considerable experience.

E2 member Chuck Henderson spoke for many of the delegates when he was asked what he found most useful about the Forum: “the overview of the legislative process and the discussions from the various Congressional and Administration folks. It was great to get the perspectives of folks like Carol Browner and others. Also, the connections with other E2 members from my area and from around the country. I really enjoyed the discussions and the back and forth.” 

Oregon Chapter Director Chris Dennett added: “I can't believe how much I learned and how energized I am right now. After learning about how our government process works (a sobering experience), then exercising and engaging my civic duty, I can now bring back what I learned to our local chapter to organize others. This is truly a scalable model that will help E2 members be results-driven and effective advocates for our environment.”

Our briefing sessions, and our meetings the next day with Senators and their staff, drove home an important point. In the current political environment, the two most powerful arguments for clean energy come from the business community (‘job creation’) and the military (‘national security’). Those are messages E2 has been delivering, and will continue to deliver, by providing a platform for our members to tell their stories about the businesses they are building in and around the clean economy. It’s more important than ever that our members are trained, ready and willing to bring their real world business perspective to bear on energy and environmental issues. 

November 15

The morning sessions were led by NRDC staff. David Goldston provided an insiders’ perspective on how Congress works and showed how small differences in the two chambers’ rules make a significant difference in how they function. He offered an historical reminder that the Founding Fathers had intended for the Senate to act as a restraint on the more populist House, but the current gridlock is perhaps unmatched since before the Civil War.

Bob Deans engaged the delegation with a hands on lesson in messaging, demonstrating with  E2 member Chris Dennett how to convert a standard “I work for ….” description into a “we offer choice in health care” story. Ed Chen and Bob Keefe described the work they’re doing on behalf of E2:  strategically placing op-eds, organizing radio tours and advising on how to broaden our communications reach.

Scott Slesinger and Marc Boom offered lessons in lobbying. Most valuable take-away: “The best meeting you can have with a legislator is in-district, whether in his office or your facilities. A ribbon cutting is a great way to engage a legislator.” (We’re pleased to report that at our meeting with Sen. Scott Brown the next day, the Senator proposed to visit the facilities of one of our delegates.)

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(L to R): David Rosenheim, Nicole Lederer, Irene Stillings, and Carol Browner  
The afternoon proceedings were keynoted by Carol Browner, former EPA Administrator and White House Energy Czar, who reminded us that the EPA has been under threat before and offered a spirited defense of the work that the EPA and other agencies have done and continue to do to advance a clean energy/clean air agenda. Jon Carson, Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, urged E2 to get more business leaders to tell their stories and showcase the businesses they are building.  

Greg Dotson, Chief Democratic Counsel, House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee, and Bob Simon, Staff Director for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, opened the door to the functioning of their respective committees, in an exploration of what‘s feasible in the current environment. One take-away from these afternoon sessions: the prospect for clean energy financing is dim so long as the drumbeat continues around Solyndra. That’s all the more reason to shift the narrative towards competitiveness and jobs, as we’ve been doing with our recent op-eds

E2 member Air Force Lt. General (ret) Norman Seip, spoke at dinner about the priority that the military places on energy security and efficiency as a matter of national security. Beyond explanations we’ve previously heard, one simple fact stood out:  Each $10 increase in the cost of a barrel of oil has an $800,000,000 impact on the Air Force budget, reducing funds available for preparedness, housing and other purposes. That’s unsustainable.

November 16

The full day of training and briefings served our E2 delegates in good stead when they headed up to the Senate to deliver three messages:
  1. The clean energy economy is growing and creating jobs, but government financing remains important; 
  2. Pollution is not a source of job creation; EPA authority to regulate clean air must be maintained; and
  3. The military focus on the development and deployment of clean energy solutions deserves our support.  
Delegates had prepared their personal talking points in advance, and were divided into three teams based principally on geography:  Northeast, West, and Ohio/Colorado.  

Team Leader: Berl Hartman Team Leader: Dave Moyar Team Leader:  Dave Rosenheim
E2 members:  
Wayne Davis
David O’Leary
Sam Perry
Norman Seip
Sally Supplee
E2 members:
Holly Beaver
Hal Candee
Clark Gates
Fred Julander
David Noble
E2 members:
Meera Balakumar
Chris Dennett
Chuck Henderson
Irene Stillings
Ed Supplee
Sen John Kerry (D-MA) staff Sen Sherrod Brown (D-OH) Sen Barbara Boxer (D-CA) staff
Sen Scott Brown (R-MA) Sen Michael Bennet (D-CO) Sen Patty Murray (D-WA) staff (cancelled)
Sen Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) Sen Mark Udall (D-CO)  Sen Jeff Merkley (D-OR) 

In all of these meeting, our teams not only presented our arguments, but also learned what our allies in Congress are doing to try and break through the current deadlock. Whether meeting with Senators or staff, it was made clear that E2’s stories and advocacy are an important part of the debate in Washington and that we need to repeat  our message as much as possible. E2’s sign-on letters and Clean Energy Jobs Newsletters were both cited repeatedly as being incredibly valuable. The biggest take-away from these meetings is that having our members in the room with a member of Congress creates  an important connection and that our legislators have great interest in  learning what our members do for a living.

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Many believe that the Department of Defense (DoD) is positioned to become the single most important driver of the cleantech revolution in the United States. The military is investing billions in renewable energy and energy efficiency. That’s not surprising given that up to half of the yearly American casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan have been incurred guarding fuel convoys. The army calculates that a 1% increase in fuel efficiency across the fleet would mean 6,444 fewer soldiers involved in convoy operations (source: Paul Skalny, Director, U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center’s  National Automotive Center).  For our military, clean energy is a matter of national security.  

On November 9th, E2 New England members and guests were fortunate to hear four unique speakers on this issue, including Representative Niki Tsongas, a local Massachusetts Congresswoman and a member of the House Armed Services Committee.  

It is not about right or left, it is about right and wrong
Dan Nolan, an energy specialist who served as a principal advisor to General Tommy Franks, began the program. After a distinguished 26-year career in the Army, Dan founded and is now CEO of Sabot6, a strategic consulting firm whose primary focus is on government energy programs. Dan spoke about the general trends in energy consumption by DoD and how the department is pushing towards a net zero philosophy.

The DoD is the nation’s single largest energy user, representing about 1% of the country’s energy use and about 80% of all the energy used by the federal government. Its facilities include 307,000 buildings and it controls 28.6 million acres of land -- about the size of the state of Pennsylvania. In short, DoD is the gorilla in the room.  

The military’s use of energy is guided by legislative action and executive orders. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT 2005); the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA 2007); and executive orders from both Presidents Bush and Obama sets standards for efficiency and renewables. For example, the 2007 bill mandates that all new and renovated federal buildings must reduce fossil fuel use by 55% (from 2003 levels) by 2010, and 80% by 2020 and new federal buildings must be carbon-neutral by 2030. Renewable energy must account for 25% of all facility energy by 2025. Each of the services has their own plans and targets for meeting their specific goals.

As Dan put it, “DoD has figured out that sustainable operations make sense economically and for security. It is not about right or left, it is about right and wrong.” You can read more on Dan’s DoD Energy Blog.

Energy Battle Plan: Attack Fuel Demand 

Army Lieutenant Colonel H. Brad Hodge, Assistant Product Manager for Force Provider, Force Sustainment Systems, described the energy efficiency initiatives in the life support systems for our troops deployed in Afghanistan. Force Provider is a kind of "base in a box" that provides everything that a 600-person camp deployed overseas needs: billeting with environmental control, showers, latrines, laundry, kitchen & dining facilities, power generation & distribution, water storage & distribution, wastewater collection & storage and more.

Future plans include SAGE, which stands for smart and green energy. It’s an integrated across-the-board housing system that includes shelter insulation, solid state lighting, power management and power generation, a commercial hybrid micro grid system integrating generator, renewable power (wind, solar) with energy storage system (batteries) and photovoltaic systems feeding to a commercial hybrid micro grid system. 

Waste disposal on a forward operating base is a major issue for our troops, so the Force Provider team is working on a deployable waste to energy systems that will take mixed solid wastes and covert them into a syngas that can fuel a standard generator. The payoff will be enormous when one considers that every gallon of generator fuel consumed or gallon of water delivered requires seven gallons of fuel to get it there.

A real world perspective

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Dan Futrell, a Truman Security Project Fellow and Iraqi War Veteran shared his stories on how energy affected his operation at the tactical level and how perceptions of US intent with regard to energy resources affected his interactions with potential enemies and friends in Baghdad. His pictures taken in Iraq gave us a sense of the everyday life of a soldier and a real world perspective. He also encouraged all of the CEOs in the room to hire more veterans, especially after the latest employment data indicated a 12.1% unemployment rate among veterans as compared to a 9.1% national rate.

The view from Congress

As our final speaker, we were honored to have Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, a member of the House Armed Services Committee who has been outspoken in her support of our troops, our veterans, and the use of clean energy in the military. Representative Tsongas spoke about the importance of energy as a security issue and praised the work of local business leaders. She noted that the Defense Department is the largest institutional consumer of fossil fuels in the country and that they use more than 300,000 barrels of oil a day and 3.9 billion kilowatt hours of electricity per year.

She pointed out that DoD budgets are heavily affected by fossil fuel price volatility. For example, a $10 rise in the price of a barrel of oil equals a $1.3 billion yearly increase in DoD's yearly energy bill. All of this has led the Defense Department to step up research, development, and use of alternative energy sources.

The take away

Our current energy profile leaves our economy and national security highly vulnerable to shortages and the effects of pollution and climate change. The military understands this and is already investing in changing their energy portfolio. Their leadership can help develop the private market for the rest of us. 

Many thanks to the law firm of Foley-Hoag for hosting this event.

The presentations for this event can be found here.

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  L to R: Dave Miller, Berl Hartman, Senator Benjamin Downing, Dianne Callan, Jay Baldwin, and Don Reed.
Massachusetts’ signature energy bill of 2008, the Green Communities Act, is under review by the State Legislature’s Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy. Despite the fact that by almost every measure the bill is an unqualified success, it nevertheless has its detractors.

The bill mandates that utilities purchase all cost effective energy that is cheaper than new supply; strengthens the Massachusetts Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS); promotes net-metering and long-term contracts; and encourages cities and towns to become ‘Green Communities’ by providing funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives.

On November 3rd, several E2 New England members met with Senator Ben Downing and Representative John Keenan, the co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy with the message that clean energy is thriving in the state and though there may be a few areas for improvement, their guiding principle should be "first do no harm".

A recent report by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) found that the state has 4,909 clean energy firms employing 64,310 clean energy workers that are distributed throughout the Commonwealth. Clean energy now represents 1.5% of the total employment in the state and is one of the few growth industries in the state. Employment in the sector grew by 6.7% in 2010, much more than the 1% growth in state industries as a whole.

Moreover, Massachusetts recently earned the prestigious number one ranking for energy efficiency from the ACEEE, surpassing California for the first time. The group credited the implementation of the Green Communities Act with catapulting the state to first place, by laying the foundation for greater investment in efficiency. 

Another measure of the sector’s success is shown by venture capital investments, which totaled of $1.9 billion since 2008 and $2.5 billion since 2005. 

Despite comments to the contrary by Massachusetts’ Attorney General Martha Coakley, all of this was accomplished while actually lowering rates for Massachusetts’ customers. Massachusetts’ rates were lower this year than last  ($14.36 vs. $14.72) and Massachusetts’ residential rates are well below the average for New England and Mid-Atlantic states ($14.36 vs. $15.56 for New England; and $16.40 for Mid-Atlantic) (source: Table 5.6.A. Average Retail Price of Electricity to Ultimate Customers by End-Use Sector, by State, July 2011 and 2010.)

As with any piece of legislation, there is always room for improvement. E2 recommends increasing the percentage of long term contracts which is currently limited by the act to 3% to provide stable prices and an important hedge against volatile fossil fuel prices, while fostering deployment of local, clean renewable energy generation. We also recommend increasing the limit on net metering be increased from the current level of 3% of a distribution company’s historic peak load to a total of 6% of a distribution company’s historic peak load.

Separately, E2 is strongly supporting a bill that would simplify the permitting requirements for wind siting while maintaining local control and environmental review requirements. 

E2 will be conveying these comments in writing and in person to the Massachusetts State legislature. 
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On November 15th, E2’s Pacific Northwest chapter held a focus meeting about clean transportation in Oregon. In partnership with the Oregon Environmental Council (OEC), "Clean and Local Fuels for a Strong Northwest Economy" brought together E2 members, OEC leaders, industry participants, state officials, and members of the community to learn about Oregon’s Low Carbon Fuel Standards (LCFS) and clean transportation activities strengthening the region’s economy. The meeting included a tour of a local biodiesel production facility and a lunch session featuring presentations from the biofuels, electric vehicle, and natural gas industries. With an estimated $5 billion leaving the state of Oregon each year to purchase dirty fuels, development of clean, local transportation fuel is a real opportunity to bolster the state’s economy while protecting the environment.

Tyson Keever, general manager of SeQuential Pacific Biodiesel, led attendees through an informative tour of the company’s production facility in Salem, Oregon, which uses locally collected waste cooking oil and Northwest grown virgin oil feedstocks to produce as much as 17 million gallons of biodiesel each year.

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At the following lunch gathering, speakers included Chris Galati, director of conservation & technology at NW Natural, a regional gas provider; Carrie Atiyeh, director of public affairs at ZeaChem, a Denver-based cellulosic ethanol producer with a production facility in Eastern Oregon; James Mast, interim operations director at Drive Oregon, the state’s EV industry association; and Andrea Salinas, legislative director at OEC. Along with presentations from each speaker, a lengthy Q&A session tackled topics such as the importance of deploying infrastructure, the challenges to ramping up production, and how different clean transportation technologies (e.g., biofuels, EVs, natural gas) can work together to compete with existing oil-dependent transportation. Oregon’s LCFS was also discussed in detail, highlighting the importance of extending the policy beyond its current 2016 sunset date – with many relevant technologies still in the development stage, premature expiration of the LCFS would not allow Oregon to leverage the several promising clean transportation technologies expected to become commercially available in the next decade.

E2 would like to thank SeQuential Pacific Biodiesel for the facility tour and Wildwood, Inc. for hosting the lunch session.
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E2 welcomes our new Program Assistant, Erik Chen. A graduate of the University of California, Davis, Erik worked for Conservation Strategy Group where he helped with their legislative efforts on environmental and clean energy issues. His projects included writing action alerts, researching policy arguments, building stakeholder coalitions, preparing the weekly newsletter, and planning events. Prior to Conservation Strategy Group, Erik was a Research and Outreach Assistant at the California Natural Resources Agency and a Public Policy Intern at the Office of California Lt. Governor John Garamendi. Please welcome Erik to E2. Erik can be reached at erik@e2.org.
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If you have any questions about joining or following us, please contact Christine Luong (Christine@e2.org or 415-875-6100).

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The 13th annual Forces for Nature benefit was held at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City on November 14th. Trustee Wendy Schmidt and Eric Schmidt were honored along with Arianna Huffington. The event celebrated them with the theme of innovation and the tools that they each have created for sharing knowledge, and the ability to connect with each other and the world around us. Seth Meyers from Saturday Night Live was the charming and hilarious host for the evening. It was a spectacular night in an incredible setting with 450 donors, friends and trustees of NRDC in attendance.


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