Obama’s New Energy and EPA Appointments

Jim Lane   Ernest J. Moniz is the nominee for US Secretary of Energy In Washington, President Barack Obama nominated MIT professor Ernest J. Moniz as US Secretary of Energy, replacing Steven Chu, and nominated Gina McCarthy as EPA Administrator. Moniz is currently serving as the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems, as well as the director of the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI) and the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment. He was formerly undersecretary of Energy and associate director of the White House office...

350.org’s Smart New Campaign

Garvin Jabusch Many parallels exist between the college campus divestiture campaigns of the 1980s and today. Both were/are seeking to apply intense student and community pressure to persuade boards of trustees to get endowment monies out of investments in businesses or locations perceived as undesirable. In the '80s it was South Africa and Apartheid that students objected to. Back then, one could almost conceive of college students versus a beleaguered South African government as something of a fair fistfight between entities with comparable chances of winning popular opinion and thus investment dollars to their side. And indeed the students...

Renewable Energy Standards: Savvy or Silly?

David Gold State renewable energy standards have gained momentum over the past decade with 29 states having put in place various types of standard mandates and five more having implemented voluntary standards (34 total).  Now the federal government is looking to get into the game with a bi-partisan bill (S. 3813) aiming to set a minimum national standard. Renewable energy standards certainly feel good, but do they really provide the best path for achieving their goals?  The existing renewable energy standards are savvy in finding a way to reduce fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions while simultaneously being...

Election Does Not Spell Cleantech Doom

With the recent “shellacking” (as President Obama referred to the election results) of the Democratically controlled Congress, much of the buzz in the cleantech space has been doom and gloom.  Is cleantech doomed to a new dark age?  I do not believe so. Energy policy is one area where there is an overlap of goals between the parties.  Members of both parties largely agree that energy is critical to our economic and national security.  And most Republicans do not dismiss out of hand the risks of global warming. I suspect that energy policy will be...

Overcoming Hurdles to Clean Energy Commercialization

by David L. Levy In the absence of a global framework for regulating emissions, the future of the planet largely rests on choices by private firms and investors regarding which technologies to pursue and commercialize. Despite the mounting evidence of severe climate change, there is a funding crisis for potential solutions. The Department of Energy released data at the beginning of November showing that global emissions of CO2 rose 6% in 2010, despite the ongoing economic recession. This trajectory is higher than the worst case projections from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in it’s 2007 Fourth...

Occupy Wall Street and the Next Economy: Clamoring for Solutions

Garvin Jabusch The Occupy Wall Street movement (OWS), now in its fourth week, is getting a lot of media attention. Opinions are divided. By and large, conservatives represent the protesters as 'a mob' (a notable exception is former governor of Louisiana and current GOP presidential candidate Buddy Roemer, who said on MSNBC that "politicians need to listen to these young people, it could change America"). Meanwhile, progressives view them as a justifiable, if not inevitable, reaction to the social inequity that results from a system rigged in favor of the ultra-wealthy. In their foundation document, the ...

Obama Cleantech Stimulus: Bad Policy, Bad Politics and Bad for Cleantech

David Gold The Solyndra debacle is no surprise to this cleantech venture capitalist. The inherent conflict between trying to get money out of the U.S. Treasury as quickly as possible to stimulate the economy and, at the same time, have government agencies that are ill-suited at making business decisions do just that was nothing other than a recipe for disaster. Anytime a government program is giving money to the private sector with the intent of getting the money back, the program is doomed to failure.  Bureaucracies, politics and the lack of a profit motive simply...

Foundations don’t practice what they preach

by Stephen Viederman   Philanthropic foundations are like old-fashioned slot machines. They have one arm and are known for their occasional payout. Although the term “mission-related investing” found its way into the lexicon of philanthropy decades ago, the finance committees of most foundations continue to manage their endowments like investment bankers. Their portfolios give no hint that they are institutions whose purpose is the public benefit. There is a chasm between mission – grantmaking – and investment. The logic of a synergy between the two has yet to take hold. For example, number of reports circulated in the US...

Trick and Treat: Energy loans under review, as Hallowe’en looms

Jim Lane The Obama Administration got tricked, and handed out some bad energy loan candy. Turns out that the Washington press corps, and House Republicans, were asleep on the job, too. Until the money ran out, that is. We’re not sure if there’s been any more perfect timing for an Obama Administration announcement, than the news that it will start up an investigation of the DOE loan guarantee program just as Hallowe’en weekend got underway. Hallowe’en, is of course, the time of disguise, the celebration of the macabre, and the ghostly return of the...
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