From left: Tony Lent, Stephen Cowell, Nicole Lederer, Paul Zorner and John Cheney.
The nation’s energy debate has been quite a wild ride this summer. We went from the historic introduction in Congress of the Lieberman Warner Global Warming Bill in June
, to a highly politicized debate on solutions to high gasoline prices throughout the summer, to the introduction on September 16 of a House energy bill that lifts the 30-year moratorium on offshore oil drilling while also providing support for clean energy development. Throughout this time, E2 has worked to promote the message that investing our national resources in energy efficiency and alternative energy will launch the country on a new wave of economic growth and job generation.
High gasoline prices over the summer ignited a highly charged debate in Washington, DC, in which domestic drilling was promoted as a solution to the pain Americans are feeling at the pump. Drilling proponents and oil industry interests mounted a messaging campaign, "Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less," to convince the public that opening the remaining protected areas of the Outer Continental Shelf and the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to new oil exploration would lower prices at the pump. No matter that the U.S. Department of Energy’s own Energy Information Administration has concluded that lifting the moratorium would have no immediate impact on gas prices and only an "insignificant" impact by 2030.
To combat this misdirection on the drilling issue and the diversion that it creates from real solutions to our energy crisis, E2 jumped into this public debate by engaging in a two-pronged outreach strategy - a radio tour and a presentation to Congress - to address both federal lawmakers and their constituents.
E2’s "Real Energy Solutions" Radio Tour
Starting in August, a group of E2 member volunteers from the E2 DC project (Joel Serface, Dave Noble, Andrew Currie, Bill Unger, Dan Goldman, Jon Slangerup, John Cheney, Tedd Saunders, Rob Erlichman, Tony Lent and Holly Kaufman) began a series of radio interviews coordinated by NRDC’s communications team to reach voters in key states. Each delivered the message – based on their own business experience – that renewable energy and energy efficiency provide real opportunities to gain control over the supply and price of energy while growing our economy and creating thousands of new jobs. The radio shows, often booked during commuter drive time on national stations and in key states (Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Virginia), involved both host interviews and questions from listeners, which ranged from friendly to antagonistic. In all cases our E2 representatives promoted their perspectives with authority and humor.
For an example of eloquence and spot-on message delivery (in spite of a radio host who was a bit fuzzy on the issue) listen to Dan Goldman
’s interview on WSRQ in Tampa, Florida, immediately followed by excellent interviews with Jon Slangerup and John Cheney (see bios for Dan
). To hear a valiant display of persistence in the face of host belligerence, listen to Holly Kaufman
’s wonderful performance on WLW in Cincinnati, Ohio (see Holly’s bio
). Visit E2.org for a full list of available interviews
This radio tour is ongoing. As of September 22 our E2 spokespeople have reached audiences of 840,000 listeners in states that are key to the federal energy policy debate and where we have not previously had the opportunity to promote our message
Thanks to all the E2 volunteers who’ve done radio interviews for us so far. If you’re interested in participating in this program, please contact Nicole Lederer at Nicole@nicolelederer.com
E2 in DC: "Voices from the New Energy Economy: Real People, Real Jobs, Right Now"
For the second prong of E2’s action on the current energy debate, five E2 members responded to an invitation by Congresswoman Hilda Solis (D-CA) to update Congress with a presentation
on activity in the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors. Many legislators remain largely uninformed about the innovation, investment and growth that is occurring in this arena, as well as the economic benefits that will accrue to their districts by putting the right energy policies in place. E2 members Stephen Cowell
, John Cheney
, Tony Lent
, Paul Zorner
and Nicole Lederer
created a presentation, the "New Energy Economy," emphasizing the enormous opportunities in the U.S. for economic growth and job generation in alternative energy and energy efficiency – and the need for federal policy to support research, investment in and deployment of these solutions.
Nicole introduced the presentation by citing the number of new jobs that have already been created and that are currently in the pipeline as a result of an expansion of the renewable energy sector – and how policy-sensitive these projects and accompanying jobs are. Paul Zorner made the point that his work, which promises greater energy and economic independence for the state of Hawaii, can be applied to any state in the Union, creating local jobs and local control over power generation. John Cheney showed a clear correlation between the states in which his company, which finances alternative energy projects, invests and those with favorable renewable energy standards. Stephen Cowell talked about how his residential energy efficiency retrofitting business, the largest in the U.S., is operating in states with good energy efficiency policy and incentives, and how those states then benefit from the green collar jobs that his company creates. And Tony Lent, a private equity investor in the alternative energy space for the past 15 years, argued for the U.S. to adopt economy-wide carbon and renewable energy policies in order to compete in the global energy economy. Read all the speakers’ remarks and download their slides
After our two presentations (one in the House and one in the Senate), we met with Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), who serves on the Senate Energy & Resources Committee, to discuss the energy bill he is writing. Senator Wyden invited E2 to provide feedback on the bill as it is being crafted.
Thanks to all the E2 volunteers who have loaned their time and expertise to this effort. Their work positions E2 to have a meaningful role in the critical next stage of U.S. energy policy.
"My trip to DC was my first E2 experience, being a new member, and I enjoyed the opportunity to meet fellow cleantech entrepreneurs and experience the passion that we all bring to our day and night jobs. Thinking about these issues on a national scale made me realize and deliver the message that there is a strong connection between the current financial crisis and the energy crisis that results from skyrocketing prices. The households who received sub-prime mortgages were able to pay their mortgages and hide the fragile nature of these investments until rising energy prices resulted in these households(below 50k in income) losing 10% of their annual income to higher energy prices and falling behind in their mortgages. It proved that our entire economy is inexorably linked to our energy economy." – Stephen Cowell
"This was my first experience with the E2 group in Washington. Our team and leadership displayed tremendous talent, insight and was a joy to work with side by side. Upon reflection what was amazing to me was how receptive Members were to our positions and thoughts. My brief personal conclusion is that even while the looming financial chaos is unfolding, it is more important than ever to show the strength of our vision and bipartisan support for our environmental and energy policies. I came away with an almost uncanny sense that Climate Change and Renewable Energy may be one of the only bright lights left for Members to push the economy away from the brink." – John Cheney