Photos and Story by Robin Roth
National Clean Energy Summit 5.0
The fifth annual National Clean Energy Summit held on Tuesday, August 7, 2012 at the Bellagio Hotel & Resort in Las Vegas, was a huge success. The summit was hosted by Center for American Progress, Clean Energy Project, MGM Resorts International, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
The summit brought to the table clean energy visionaries, leaders, public officials, business executives, entrepreneurs, investors, students, and the media to discuss how to empower the public with tools to promote the clean energy economy; increasing jobs and energy independence.
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar opened the annual green energy conference with the exciting announcement that a 12-square-mile wind energy farm in rural White Pine County will begin producing electricity.
Since the first National Clean Energy Summit in 2008, Nevada has seen an enormous difference in clean energy and is currently producing virtually 4-and-a-half times the amount of clean megawatts from just four years ago. With solar, geothermal and wind projects arising across the State, Nevada is currently generating 1,150 megawatts of clean energy; which is enough to power tens of thousands of homes. Furthermore, clean energy projects are fueling Nevada’s tax base. Since 2010 Nevada has seen over $248 million in tax profits created from clean energy projects.
Though great strides have been accomplished to realize the clean energy potential, more can, should and must be done in the coming years to guarantee future clean energy growth. The National Clean Energy Summit 5.0: ‘The Power of Choice’, examined the most successful ways to force immediate investments in our clean resources and policies that can optimize renewable energy production.
A major focus was on empowering governments, individuals, and of course businesses with the ability to choose clean energy. The conference detailed energy options and how clean energy choices can improve the quality of life, save consumers money, and grow the economy. The more the public, business, and government learn about the enormous benefits of clean energy, there is a higher chance they will support policies to bring that prospect here sooner.
The time has come for the nation to better enable investments in clean energy. Increasing the amount of solar, wind, and geothermal energy can empower new industries and markets the ability to create new jobs and help rebuild our economy.
The Summit also discussed the need to invest in the research, development, deployment, and commercialization of new clean tech products to make us competitive in the $7 trillion global clean energy market.
executive director of the Western Interstate Energy Board Doug Larson, former director of Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy Arun Majumdar, owner of Energy Works Consulting LLC. Rose McKinney-James, UNLV President Neal Smatresk, co-founder of Advanced Energy Economy Dr. Hemant Taneja and founder, CEO and President of Viridity Energy, Inc. Audrey ZibelmanKen Salazar, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Michael Donley, Secretary of the U.S. Air Force, Jim Murren, Chairman and CEO, MGM Resorts International, Leo W. Gerard, USW International President, Elon Musk, President and CEO, Tesla, Jon Wellinghoff, Chairman, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Denise Bode, CEO, American Wind Energy Association, Fred Smith, Chairman, President and CEO of FedEx, Peter Fox-Penner, Principal of the Brattle Group, Phil Giudice, CEO, Liquid Metal Battery Corporation, Kristin McMillan CEO, Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, Chris Paine, American Filmmaker, Phil Giudice, CEO, Liquid Metal Battery Corporation, Kristin McMillan, CEO, Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, Rose McKinney-James, Owner, Energy Works Consulting, LLC and Tom Husted, CEO of Valley Electric Association, Inc.
President Bill Clinton delivered the keynote address.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton the energy GURU delivered a powerful keynote address. Clinton is not only passionate about this topic but, has been focusing on the issues of climate change and resource depletion for over 32 years. He said that in 1977, when he was Attorney General of Arkansas, he once brought Amory Lovins to come speak before the public utility commission about how energy efficiency could help prevent the construction of another nuclear plant.
He brought immense authority and great experience to the daylong National Clean Energy Summit 5.0. He commanded the attention of every person in the room.
“U.S. renewable energy efforts lag behind those in other countries”, Clinton said, recalling losing Senate backing for the 1997 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The U.S. never ratified the treaty, dubbed the Kyoto agreement that aimed at cutting greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere
Clinton said, “It will take a bias toward action, a bias for cooperation and a bias toward thinking big even if we have to act small,” to change the future. “The great winners of the world are the cooperators. Why is this important? Because cooperation gets lousy news coverage and people don’t know about it”.
“The power of example changes consciousness”, The President said, adding that “slow change shouldn’t discourage development and government can help with programs like tax incentives for renewable energy projects”.
“Germany and China have used such incentives to become leaders in solar power around the world”. . . “Lawmakers and business leaders need to rekindle a spirit of cooperation if the United States wants to lead in clean energy and address climate change”. Clinton urged patience in developing solar, wind and geothermal energy. He warned the United States is falling behind Europe, China and other countries in developing clean energy sources. “Five years is not enough. We have to pay the price of time,” Clinton told an audience of over 600 people..
Clinton stated that he was impressed with all of the visible tattoos of the 2,000 plus construction workers on the site of Ivanpah, and said this made him ponder how if there were people with visible impressive tattoos that advocated and understood clean energy, then there would be more success for the clean energy industry in Washington D.C. “Think of the tattoo vote”.
President Clinton attempted to cut through the contentious political fights picked by the “denialists in Congress” and highlight the importance of cooperation in fostering a smart, forward-thinking clean energy policy.
Clinton summarized efficiency and renewable energy projects in America such as the Ivahpah concentrating solar power project and the efficiency retrofit of the Empire State Building which has created thousands of green jobs.
After speaking for over an hour, Clinton sat down for 30 minutes for one-on-one questions from his former White House chief-of-staff John Podesta, now the head of a think tank and an energy conference organizer. Podesta asked, “Why has clean energy become so partisan”? Clinton said, “It became more politically divisive after President Barack Obama got elected and made it the centerpiece of his agenda. Republicans had a ‘just say no’ strategy’ to defeat him”. He added that, “Many of the big money political action committees funding Republican campaigns have financial interests in the oil and gas industry and feel threatened. They said if we just say no to everything, they’ll blame him,” Clinton said, referring to Obama. “They’ll think he’s too far to the left…The same thing happened to me during 1994′s “Republican Revolution” and subsequent government shutdown”.
President Clinton ended his appearance by fervently stating, “Every place people do things the power of example changes consciousness. Where ever you live, find something to do. Keep working until you find somebody of a different political persuasion with the same goal, and then figure out how to achieve it. So while you lobby for political change on the national level, it’s important to do something. Even if it seems small, it will have a big impact. Differences of opinion are important. If your purpose is to reach an agreement, than your disagreements become much more valuable. We are going to have to become a stakeholder society again — that’s the only thing that works.”
President Clinton warned that if the United States and the world don’t develop more renewable energy, greenhouse gases and rising temperatures will threaten the human race. Clinton said he read a book that concluded the species who manage to survive over time are those that cooperate among themselves, including humans, ants, bees and termites. The difference with humans, however, is that we are “vulnerable to arrogance,” which, could lead to our end.”If we’re destroyed, ants and bees will still be around,” Clinton stated.
The Summit featured discussions on how crucial it is to invest in the research, development, deployment, and commercialization of new clean tech products to make the United States competitive in the $7 trillion global clean energy market. For example, investments by the Department of Defense in renewable and energy efficiency technologies for military use will keep our troops safer by reducing their exposure caused by the transportation of energy resources to forward operating bases. These investments will also help the civilian clean tech sector to conquer the barriers of commercializing new clean energy technologies, just as we have done with the Internet, engines, and microchips.
Comments were made by speakers such as, any way we can use less energy is a good day. Another comment that struck a chord with the audience was, look how advanced cell phones have become in the last 30 years. Now look how advanced clean energy has become in the last 30 years. If we only put the same time and money into energy research that was put into cell phone technology, just imagine how advanced we would be today. It was also stated, that it is encouraging how more and more companies are waking up and going green today. A comment that brought applause was, if congress can get their act together and stop being so polarized, we can make policies to create jobs through an industry of green that is trying so desperately to get started.
The National Clean Energy Summits are making a difference!
There’s a piece of mine on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine today that I think may be the most important writing I’ve done since The End of Nature, way back in 1989. (And no, it’s not the profile of Justin Bieber)
Warning: it’s pretty long, and it’s not entirely cheerful. Indeed, it shows that the business plans of the fossil fuel industry will wreck the planet — that they’ve already got enough carbon in their reserves to drive the heat past anyone’s definition of okay.
If you read it, you’ll get a sense of the direction 350.org is headed.
I’ll be hosting a video chat early next week to help cover all of these topics – in particular Keystone and the article I just released – and if you’d like to join that particular conversation, I’m told you can RSVP by clicking here: act.350.org/sign/bill-video-chat-july/
In the meantime: as we see it, we’ve got iconic battles underway in every part of the country, and against all the forms of fossil fuel. And they’re beginning to coalesce into a true movement against the heart of this most dangerous industry.
1) Keystone XL.
Centered along the pipeline route in the middle of the country, this battle against opening Canada’s vast tarsands has been in a holding pattern for a while, but that’s changing. On the southern half of the pipeline, our friends in Texas are actively planning for civil disobedience. Meanwhile, thanks to your efforts, a narrow Congressional plurality has blocked GOP attempts to force through the northern half of the pipeline this year. Now the ball is back in the State Department’s court — and so far they’re fumbling it. They need to conduct a new review, but they’ve not even agreed to look at the climate effects of the project (my take on how Sec. of State Hillary Clinton is mishandling this particular issue is here). We’re going to need your help to put pressure on them — and also to help mobilize against metastasizing tarsands pipelines, like the so-called Trailbreaker project across New England. Mitt Romney has promised opening Keystone will be his first act; we’re by no means certain Obama wouldn’t bend to corporate power either. We may need to go back to jail; no matter what, we’ll do our best to keep figuring out the incredibly murky Washington politics and trying to work out useful plans.
2) Coal ports.
Stymied by great organizing against coal-fired power in this country, the mining giants are scouting new markets in Asia — and building the ports along the Pacific to let them send that carbon overseas to be burned. People are mobilizing effectively to try and block those plans (and three coal-train derailments last week made it a little clearer to everyone what a bad plan this is). Meanwhile, mountaintop removal foes continue to press their case across Appalachia. Together we’ve all managed to blacken coal’s name considerably, and we can’t let up.
Opposition to fracking for gas has been loudest along the East Coast, atop the Marcellus Shale. We’ve been working in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York (and other places, like Vermont, where a statewide ban on fracking was enacted this spring). Given the deep pockets of the gas companies it’s a hard battle, but you’d be amazed at the depth of the local organizing; the drillers are being met by an aroused citizenry wherever they go!
So — oil, coal, gas; Midwest; Pacific; East. These fights are all crucial, but they’re also all part of the much larger battle, which is against carbon in the atmosphere. We’ve got to fight them all, but we can’t win one pipeline or port at a time. We’ve also got to change the basic ground rules.
Which is why we’re also engaged, right through election day, in the fight against fossil fuel subsidies. It’s gaining momentum — almost 60 Senators and Representatives have signed on in support of the Sanders/Ellison bill to end the giveaways to the richest industry on earth. Teams of people are fanning out across the country this week and next to ask their public officials: “Where do you stand on removing fossil fuel subsidies?”
All this activity is playing out, of course, against the backdrop of one of the greatest heatwaves and droughts in American history, a constant reminder just how high the stakes are. People are noticing — the polling indicates steady increases in concern about climate change — and now our job is to build that diffuse sentiment into a strong movement.
I’m awfully glad you’re a part of this movement, and hope you’re managing to stay cool.
On we go,
Bill McKibben for the crew at 350.org
P.S. And if you have reactions to and thoughts about that Rolling Stone piece please send them in to “email@example.com“. The analysis — the math — that’s in there is going to form the basis of a lot of our work going forward, and it would be useful to hear how it strikes you.
The Heartland Institute—a main climate-denial front group—chose an interesting day
to put up billboards around Chicago in advance of their next meeting.
This morning—even as the first actions of Connect the Dots day were taking place in
the Pacific—they unveiled the signs, which have big pictures of Ted Kacynzki and Charles Manson, two convicted mass murderers, with the question: “I Still Believe in Global Warming, Do You?”
The message couldn’t be clearer—anyone who’s worried about climate change is
abnormal, weird, sick, twisted.
So our message back need to be just as clear and firm:
in fact, its normal people around the world who are engaged in the fight
against climate change. Some are famous—the pope, the Dalai Lama, the
patriarch of the Orthodox Church—but most of us are just ordinary citizens. And
we’re worried about climate change because we can see what’s going on around us
with our own eyes.
The industry is terrified to talk about extreme weather
that has led a big majority of Americans to back action on climate change, and
they are terrified of the beautiful movement that is growing all across this
country. That’s why groups like the Heartland Institute are so desperate—that’s why they’re insisting that it’s serial killers and not scientists and citizens who care
about climate change.
We have no idea why companies like Microsoft continue to support the Heartland
Institute, and you can sign a petition here letting them know it’s a bad idea
to encourage this kind of hatred. But the most important thing
you can do is turn out everyone you know for tomorrow’s day of action.
Citizens like us taking action in our communities may be the only way that we can fight
back against an industry with so much money and ill-will at their disposal.
This weekend we can show the real face of climate change – both the impacts
that are already roiling our world, but also the people who are taking action
to stop it.
getting desperate, which is a good sign.
A main climate change denial front group is comparing believing in climate change with mass murder.
If you agree that’s reckless, we need you to take action to Connect the Dots this weekend, and call out their corporate sponsors by signing on below:
More Info and Links
Institute compares belief in global warming to mass murder | Leo
Hickman | Environment | guardian.co.uk go.350.org/IJLNlA
“Earthman” Lanny Smith Wins Nashville Earth Day Festival’s Songwriting Competition
Performs song at the festival with local choir
Part-time South Florida resident “Earthman” Lanny Smith was named the winner of the Nashville Earth Day Festival’s Songwriting Competition. Smith featured on the main stage in Nashville’s Historic Centennial Park at the 11th Annual Earth Day Festival. Joining him to sing The Pledge (An Earth Anthem), was a choir of children and adults from EarthmattersTN, the Nashville Global Education Center, and Julia Green Elementary with teacher Julie Hasfjord (current Metro Schools Teacher of the Year).
People can hear The Pledge (An Earth Anthem) and see the inspiring music video at www.YouTube.com/Earthman. The song has already been translated and recorded in Creole, Portuguese, and Spanish.
Smith, a North American Environmental Educator of the Year and an award-winning environmental songwriter and performing artist, is currently an environmental Artist in Residence in Winchester, Kentucky and the surrounding counties. His ministry strategically uses the power of music, the arts, and the web to educate, activate, and inspire people to protect the environment.
“Music is such a powerful force to educate, ,activate and inspire people of all ages to become part of the solution to the environmental challenges we face,” said Smith.
Smith was featured on Fox 17 and is receiving a package from Nashville Songwriters Association International valued at $500.
Certified Green Partners invites our Green Partners and Friends to celebrate Earth Day at the City of Doral
See you at Earth Day’s
Founder, Certified Green Partners
Friends move on but don’t necessarily become lesser friends. My very good friend, Lanny Smith, has moved on to Kentucky, continuing to speak and sing his message. I have so much respect for this beautiful, dedicated guy. And here he is again, with his annual Earth Day message directed to ENV. God Bless you, buddy. HS
Lanny “Earthman” Smith
I write from beautiful horse country outside of Lexington, Kentucky on this Earth Day 2012. A small town named Winchester founded by Shawnee in the 1680′s and then established as an American city by immigrants in 1793. Daniel Boone created one of the first settlements some 15 minutes from my apartment on the banks of the Kentucky river. I am here as an artist in residence bringing my “Earthman” outreach to the children and adults of this northern Kentucky area.
In the courtroom of the County Executive, who is also a judge, there is a beautiful painting of Daniel and a couple of friends on a cliff overlooking the unbuilt upon Kentucky hills and valleys. Green as far as the eye can see. No buildings, no cell towers, no litter, and no air pollution from coal power plants.
Daniel was a witness to the creation before the industrial revolution. The water was so clean you could drink right from the river, eat the fish caught in it without worry of mercury, be marveled by the wildlife sharing the gift of life without a plastic six-pack holder tied around its beak or in its mouth.
Here in 2012 we have come a long way. Cell phones, computers, cars, electricity, airplanes, people in space, huge televisions with 700 channels, I-pods, heart pacemakers, indoor plumbing, and on and on.
Daniel, and all our nations founding fathers and mothers, would be amazed and proud of American ingenuity. Yet, they would be appalled by the senseless destruction of the land, streams, air and the human condition by the total dedication of profit over ethics. They would be horrified by people who proudly fly the American flag from their car and then throw their cigarette butts, cans, paper, bottles, tires, old oil and so much more trash on the American ground.
Freedom demands responsibility and ethics when it comes to all areas of a nation, especially the land, which gives us all a huge piece of a sustainable life.
There are battles ahead on so many fronts. So many of us in the movement have made a lifelong commitment to peacefully fight. We will not concede, we will not give up, we will not be defeated by the powerful forces against us for we are on the right side of history, the blessed side of God’s command to be stewards of our planet, and the hope of all the children, born and unborn in the years ahead.
This Earth Day 2012, look in the mirror, back into your eyes, and then recommit. We need everyone, old and young, of every culture and skin color. Just one request. Please make sure the water is turned off when as you do so!