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Business Voice for the Environment
March 30, 2012
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  Nicole Lederer and James Marvin, Mission Critical Ecosalon, March 15 2012
At E2 Pacific Northwest, early 2012 has seen vigorous legislative efforts, continued advocacy on coal export, and an EcoSalon featuring Members of Congress and representatives of the Department of Defense on the critical importance of clean energy to the United States Armed Forces.

Oregon Legislative Initiatives
In January, E2 held a Focus meeting, “Defending Clean Air & Water, Innovating for the Future,” where we discussed the need to protect crucial state agency budgets while simultaneously innovating to spur green economic growth in Oregon.

Oregon's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) faced unprecedented and disproportionate budget cuts in this year’s legislative session. E2 submitted a letter to all Oregon state elected officials opposing DEQ cuts. Our letter, together with emails and phone calls prior to session, was part of a groundswell of support for DEQ’s budget that was a huge success in raising the issue with legislators. Furthermore, our efforts helped raise the profile of this concern among many other natural-resource-related issues.

Pacific Northwest Chapter Director Chris Dennett describes the impact of E2's efforts: "DEQ had never before had champions for its budget and this alone was a huge success. Having a concerted effort on the natural resource agency budgets—and DEQ’s in particular—was very helpful in a session where legislators had to make over $300 million in budget cut decisions. In the end, DEQ did receive a budget cut, but a reasonable and proportionate reduction in comparison to other state agencies."

E2's relationships with Oregon businesses helped us rally voices in support of the Healthy State Purchasing policy, resulting in contacts with the Republican Caucus and its co-chairs that proved to be very important in introducing a brand new innovation concept for Oregon. Several legislators expressed interest in working on this piece of legislation; E2 will continue to support them and encourage their colleagues.

Opposing Coal Exports to Asia
The Pacific Northwest chapter is closely monitoring proposals to export Powder River Basin coal out of Oregon and Washington, and is documenting the negative impacts increased coal train traffic would have on the region's businesses and citizens. On March 15, E2 joined with the VOIS Alliance and Climate Solutions in an event to raise awareness of coal companies' plans to ship coal through the Columbia Gorge and the potential consequences for Portland and Lower Columbia communities.
 

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  Adam Smith, Jay Inslee, Mission Critical Ecosalon, March 15 2012
"Mission Critical": March EcoSalon in Seattle
On March 15, E2 presented an EcoSalon in Seattle: "Mission Critical: Clean Energy and the U.S. Military". The event was introduced by Nicole Lederer, E2's co-founder, and featured presenters Congressman Jay Inslee (D-WA), Congressman Adam Smith, ranking member on the Armed Services Committee, Ray Smalling, Utility and Energy Manager at Naval Air Station Everett, and E2 member James Marvin, retired Navy SEAL and the founder of Federal Green Solutions. E2 Executive Director Judy Albert was in attendance. The EcoSalon generated high interest; 130 responses filled the One Union Square Boardroom to capacity and pushed a few people onto a wait list.

Ms. Lederer opened the meeting by laying out the powerful drivers behind the U.S. military's commitment to clean energy: "The Defense Department has determined that our current fuel mix is a national security threat, making Americans vulnerable overseas and at home. Furthermore, the DOD warns that global warming is a threat multiplier which will heighten geopolitical instability and create both military and humanitarian challenges beyond the services' capacity to respond. In a time of political gridlock, the military says we must face this issue now."

The presenters reinforced the imperative nature of this challenge from several angles. Congressman Inslee noted that our region hosts a robust community of businesses ready to provide solutions, but called for policies to create incentives for clean energy investment. Congressman Smith echoed this call and added that procedural and administrative obstacles stand in the way of accelerated adoption. For instance, five-year contracting limits prevent the procurement marketplace from appropriately recognizing the value of technologies that are early in the adoption cycle.

Ray Smalling spoke from the perspective of an official who buys energy for a major Navy installation as a day-to-day part of his job. He showed a matrix of mandates calling for energy mix improvements, and described considerable progress the Everett facility has made. However, he also noted other policies that are at cross-purposes to clean energy goals, including the same concerns raised by the Congressmen.

James Marvin described the impact of energy dependence on units in the field: massive facilities and resources devoted to the distribution of fossil fuels provide no direct operational payoff, expose large surfaces of vulnerability, impact local populations, and reduce the agility of forward units by tethering them to a long-distance supply chain. He spoke from personal deployment experiences about the costs of this dependence, costs that at times include the shedding of American blood.

Mr. Marvin closed the event by leading a Q&A session in which numerous attendees reinforced points that had been made by the speakers; in particular, many spoke of having been impeded by the five-year contracting limit. Another lively exchange concerned the value of involving veterans in the process of doing business with the military services. In response to a question from one audience member, Mr. Marvin noted that veterans can be especially effective in any transaction with the military because of their understanding of commanders' intent. He urged businesses interested in working with the services to seek out programs that exist for connecting veterans with employers.

The Mission Critical EcoSalon has earned positive coverage from multiple bloggers including Cleantech Open, RenewableEnergyWorld.com, and Climate Solutions's Chris Bast.

Warm thanks go to Climate Solutions for co-sponsoring this event and to Stoel Rives LLP for hosting it.

Presentation slides from the event can be found here.
 




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