Rhode Island Energy & Leadership Day in Washington, DC
July 1, 2010
John Bergdoll at the Rhode Island Energy & Environmental Leadership Day event in Washington, DC
At the invitation of Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Jim Thomas, West Warwick Town Manager, myself, and other Rhode Island constituents were fortunate to participate in the Rhode Island Energy & Environment Leadership Day conference held in Washington, D.C. to learn about federal programs, share and connect with environmental leaders. Senator Whitehouse opened the session by saying, “We are now at a time of crisis and opportunity.”
Throughout the day there were repeating themes of environmental crisis, opportunity and urgency. Without a doubt, the confluence of environmental and economic events is arguing for action. Broad scientific agreement indicate that carbon emissions play a significant role in climate change urging us to end our fossil fuel dependence.
“The impacts of climate change are always being reinforced,” said Senator John Kerry. “The arguments are so powerful and yet we still have resistance,” With fire in the belly, Kerry explained, “We are in trouble folks. It’s a hell of a battle. Get in gear.”
John Bergdoll, Sustainability Business Coordinator for the Town of West Warwick, Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, and Jim Thomas, Town Manager of West Warwick, RI
“Rhode Island is preparing itself for the impact of climate change. We must prepare for the inevitable.” explained Nancy Sutley, Chair, White House Council on Environmental Quality. Sutley further explained that there is tremendous stress on our oceans and, “We must find ways to balance the competing demands from our oceans. We are looking to create new and successful partnerships. A healthy environment and a healthy economy go hand in hand.”
“The Clean Energy and Environment Bill now being drafted is a major piece of legislation.” Sen. Whitehouse said. “Putting a price on carbon will be an important component.” It needs 60 votes to pass.
Lisa Jackson, EPA Administrator and Massachusett Senator John Kerry
Massachusetts Senator John Kerry said, ‘We must become energy independent. The arguments are so powerful and yet we still have resistance. The energy market is a 6 trillion dollar market. It’s the mother of all economies, but we still have fear mongering, ideological battles, damaged gridlock, demagoguery.”
“Deforestation is one of the greatest causes of carbon emissions. We need incentives. It is a major impact on climate change. We need a grassroots revolution.”
“It’s rare in public life when you get a ‘two-fer’, said Kerry. “This is a ‘five-fer’ citing national security, jobs, U.S. could be leading the world, competitiveness, and the moral imperative of environmental stewardship.”
Lisa Jackson, EPA administrator, stated, “We need to move past the lobbying and into action. We need some growth sectors.” The devastation of the BP oil spill only adds to the urgency. Clean energy has to be profitable.”
Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed closed the session by saying, ”There are no shortages of issues.”
Regarding global climate change, Senator Reed summed it up by saying:
– China has surpassed U.S. dramatically. They are dealing with the problem and are setting up the technology the rest of the world will demand.”
– It’s an opportunity to be competitive in a global marketplace where our success in the world could depend upon it.
– Our health and the planet’s reform
“Solutions will come from everywhere.”
“The era of cheap oil is drawing to a close. Drilling for oil now has to go deeper and further out which highlighting environmental risks and continuing concern about our dependence on the Middle East for energy. The price of carbon-based fuels will need to be higher for the nation to undergo a fundamental shift to clean energy.”