Monday, April 13, 2009

MIT Colloquium with Markey, Holdren, Browner

I am blogging in real time about this event.

MIT to host clean energy policy forum
Markey, Browner, Holdren to make case for new federal rules
April 7, 2009
Proposed federal rules aimed at promoting clean energy, combating climate change and creating new "green-collar" jobs will be the focus of a policy forum on April 13 at MIT featuring several of the key Washington players who are working to get them approved.
The event, "Clean Power: Building a New Clean Energy Economy," will feature remarks by U.S. Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, chair of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming and the Energy and Environment Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee; Carol Browner, the former Environmental Protection Agency administrator who is now President Barack Obama's assistant for energy and climate change; and John Holdren '65, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
The forum comes ahead of what is expected to be a major debate in Congress over energy, global warming and economic policy. Last week, Markey and U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman of California introduced draft legislation in Congress that aims to spur the development of clean energy and reduce global warming emissions by establishing national standards for renewable energy and energy efficiency, and by putting a cap on carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping emissions.
In addition to the presentations by Markey, Holdren and Browner, the event will include remarks by MIT President Susan Hockfield, MIT Energy Initiative Director Ernest Moniz and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Daniel Yergin, chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates.
The forum, which is sponsored by MIT in cooperation with Markey, runs from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Wong Auditorium. It is free and open to the public, and will also be webcast. The full agenda can be viewed here.
Susan Hockfield, President of MIT

A PCAT study sponsored by Holdren found that every dollar invested in the green economy will lead to a $40 return.

Green energy will not be something that can be financed without charging for carbon.

At MIT our faculty and students are passionately involved with finding green solutions.

MIT will continue to serve as an honest broken and an innovator.

Introduction of Ed Markey, who has carried the torch for years. Key to acid rain legislation. Standards for vehicles. Champion for Energy Bill in 1997. Chairs Select energy committee and energy subcommittee. Most important leader in the House on energy, environment, and climate at the present time.


Ed Markey

Albert Einstein said that insanity was doing the same thing many times and expecting that different results will come out. This is what Americans have been doing. How many times do we have to go through an energy crisis before we learn.

Next Tuesday we begin legislative hearings on the Waxman-Markey bill. This will indicate to the workd that America is ready to take a leadership role in energy innovation.

Model for energy legislation will be the telecommunications act Markey spearheaded. When his legis entered law in 1996, no American home had broadband. Change the market dynamics. Same kind of revolution can be unleashed. How do we accomplish that goal? How to surpass obstacles?

Introduction of John Holdren

Increase in global temp by 2 degree C (=almost 4 degree F) by 2100 under business as usual. Occurring faster than the models indicated. Tipping points happening more rapidly than anticipated.

Options: Mitigation, adaptaion, suffering the adverse impacts.

Mitigation possibilities are abundant. Increase forestation. Modify agricultural processes. Engage in geo-engineering. Scrub greenhouse gases from atmosphere.

Adaptaion: special crop varieties, new water projects, dikes, changing cropping patterns, etc.

There is no feasible amount of mitigation that can stop climate change in its tracks. Therefore must adapt. Therefore adaptation is part of the picture.

If we can keep carbon under 550 ppm Carbon equiv will allow stabilizing at about 3 deg C. For 450 ppm, 2 deg C.

2050 goals: CO2 20-50 million tonnes of carbon willbe reduction

The reductions in carbon to the atmosphere will have to be severe.

McKinsey has identified projects that can be done by 2030 in a cost effective manner in the business as usual scenario.

Remove barriers to harvesting the low hanging fruit.
Incentives for reaching higher into the tree.
Supporting or promoting R&D to lower the highest hanging fruit so that it can be reached.

In all of these categories there are measures that will be big wins for our economy.

Questions and Answers:

Holdren: Between 1970 and 2005, we cut in half the cost in energy of producing each unit of goods and services. Going to have to succeed at sequestration of carbon dioxide. Better batteries and fuel cells. These are going to create new jobs, new industry.

Need to shrink time until fusion can be done. Was 15 years to commercialization in 1965. Now thought to be 50-65 years.

Obama embracing this kind of thing. Now there will be a permanent tax credit to encourage business.

Q: Isn't it tim to declare war on climate change?

Holdren: President is aware of the seriousness of this issue. Holdren and Chiu have been talking with him about this. He has not taken the option of saying that the economy will supercede our climate situation.

Markey: We have just completed 8 years of denial on this.

Holdren: President is strongly committed to the education part of this as well.

Dan Greenbaum: What about conventional pollutants such as black soot>

Holdren: Cannot ignore these.

Lauri Zimmerman --

Markey: No floor on oil and gas prices, but there is a market. 25% of electricity to come from renewables by 2025. SmartGrid provided for. Shift structure of utility to encourage partnership with homeowners so that is not just a matter of increasing consumption.

d'Arbeloff: Nuclear plants as pillars of mitigation?

Holdren: This not a recommendation, but an example. Actual details will depend on how things unfold. Need to put right framework into place so that the details can play out favorably.

David Bugh of A123: $2B designated for advanced batteries in US. Batteries now work for under 40 miles per day. 80% of US drivers. Cost is the issue. Improved manufacturing is avenue for improving.

Markey: What do you say to people who continue to doubt the science of global warming?

Holdren: I've tried it in various ways and they have all failed. Explaining the science does not work. I ask them if they really think that all the scientific socieities throughout the world could have been fooled. To people who think that the costs of doing this will be too high, I ask them about the costs for not doing it. They are formidable.

Dan Yergin

More of an economic perspective. Has revised his book.
We need consistency of policy, consistency of investment, and consistency of commitment to R&D.

Ernie Moniz

Technology is clearly a major part of the solution.
Efficiency agency and carbon free electricity agenda are 4 star important. He mentioned sequestration and nuclear.
Three star: clean transportation and smart grid. Domestically produced natural gas as "carbon lite." Fusion. Water splitting with the sun.
Policy must be in synch with technology.
Need to harness the talents of all of the innovation centers in the US.
Need national policies that foster this.
Need to get these techs to scale very very quickly. Holdren mentioned the gigaton problem.
Need to break the code of how to link R&D to our entrepreneurial community.
Green jobs -- a number of studies show how job intensity of most renewable techs is substantially greater than for fossil fuel technologies. This is also a challenge, because it is mostly in the manufacturing domain, and we need to capture such.
Sec Bowles just came in, and works closely with MIT to advance the New England agenda.


Yergin: Peak gasoline demand in 2007, and it will go down.

Markey: Can we achieve the needed tech breakthroughs?

Moniz: I am certainly very optimistic. Tech for sequestration is quite adequate for initiating demonstrations. Will need to develop new techs to lower the cost. This can be competitive in transition in the US. But then there is the China test. If we cannot get the price down, then China will not adopt.

Yergen: A lot of the energy issue is between US and China.

Markey: I talk almost weekly with T. Boone Pickens. National security issue.

Yergen: Price shocks in fuel represent the most serious threat to the auto industry.

Jeff Tarbin: We need social innovations as well as technical. Reducing number of vehicles or the distance that they travel. Imp0roved public transit. Can we do this? Second, we need to reduce geographic growth of population. Major driver the quality of urban schools. What can we do beside simply adding money.

Dan is pointing toward Markey who comments: Carol will address some of this. You should be gratified that we have a president who has already announced that he is going to focus on urban schools. In Telecommunications bill, we had an e-rate for the schools. This provided for urban school children. Thusfar, about $25B has been paid out of that for urban schoolkids.

Keenan, President of TIAX: Mitigation might be more cost effective than some other approaches. What emphasis do you anticipate placing on this?

Markey: Depends a lot on India and CHina. Indians are aware of the problem of CO2 impacts on such as the glaciers in the Himalayas. The CO2 are from India and China. Need you to take leadership role.

Moniz: We are in a race to reduce the carbon free tech costs.

Wm Rosenberg, Pres of E2 Gasification Co.: Developing several SNG plants in gulf coast and IL basin. Pretty comfortable that can make these projects work economically with Fed assistance. But there is criticalfactor: making enhanced oil retrieval work. Produce 5M tonnes CO2 per year along with SNG. Start construction in 18 months. Feels that EOR (enhanced oil recovery) is the only solution. [requires long distance piping of CO2]

Moniz: Saline acquifer is the longterm solution. There is a spectrum of short term approaches.

George Mokray of Cambridge: About three years ago, James Hansen said we had 3 years to get to 350 ppm. Bill McKibben will talk here later about that number. Disappointing and intellectually dishonest not to talk about that number. The future of the US depends on the sales acumen and integrity of the building efficiency industry. Need public education. Need motivation and urgency.

Yergin: requires investment.

Moniz: Confirms that Holdren talked about 350 ppm. Confirms importance of buildings. Also some of the advanced technologies will be important retrofits in the future.

Markey: Congress put legislation on President's desk a week after inauguration a bill to increase weatherization budget from $200M to $6B.

Where are we going in next year?

Moniz: Scale and speed. Reducing incremental costs.

Yergin: Scale and time. Consistency. Recognize that it is a pretty big ship we need to turn around.

Markey Intro to Carol Browner

She says she is a policy person rather than a scientist or technical person.

At time of Earth Day there was a bipartison commitment in Congress to protect our environment. In each case there were the same complaints as exist now (too costly, have to choose between healthy environment and healthy economy, too difficult technically, unable to do it, etc.), but American ingenuity came up with solutions in each case.

President says that the first country to make clean energy economically successful will be the country that leads the 21st century.

When I was head of EPA I had the privilege of working with some of the best environmental engineers. But not one of them could reverse the damage that would be done to our drinking water supplies by a rising ocean. If something is not done about global warming our children will face a permanently changed environment.

Markey: What are your goals as you prepare for Copenhagen.

Browner: Re-establish the US as a leader on climate change. During his trip to Europe he spoke on this almost every day. What we can hope to achieve in Copenhagen will depend on what we can do here in the US.

I asked Ian Bowles to think about jobs. This lead to focus on energy efficiency, and certain new technologies, clean energy, renewables, smart grid. Heard from businesses that could not get access to capital. So put $65B in loan guarantees into the package. Put in tax credits. Create stability and predictability. Secured $600M for clean energy job training at DOL. An additional $100M so that people can be trained to be line workers, which people are growing up not wanting to do these days.

Phil McKenna from New Scientist Mag: What if carbon legislation does not get through.

Browner: I am quite confident that the Congress will act, under the leadership of Congressman Markey. We need Comprehensive legislation. Looking at all aspects.

Henrietta Davis, City Counselor of Cambridge: Difficult to get the startup costs for energy conservation in Cambridge. How do we get that first money?

Browner: There are cities that have set up revolving loans. There is a provision for this in Markey's legislation. Maybe can use some of the state efficiency block grant money.

Markey: reiterate how effic is lowest hanging fruit.

Seth Kaplan of Conservation Law: transportation challenge where facing service cutbacks and price hikes. There is funding for capital investment, but not for paying the bus drivers. One approach is to have the allowances apply. How soon and what percent?

Markey: Right off the top cannot option off all of those credits because the steel and other energy intensive industries could be taken advantage of by the Chinese and others. This is a long term goal. Idea re transportation is a very interesting idea that we should talk about more.

???: Fed gas tax is 0.18 per gal while in EU it is $2-3 per gallon. Is there any chance, without political suicide, to talk about raising gas tax in this country.

Markey: legislation I led addressed higher mileage standards rather than increasing the gas tax.

Browner: One of Obamas first actions was an internal memo to DOT about increasing fuel efficiency. 2012 was the first year that this could be implemented.

Greg Yurik of American Superconductor: playing a role in smart grid. AWEA and Solar Industry Asszoc reports about moving electric power. It is going to take a long time to get the 5 GW of power lines permitted. We have superconductor wires that carry much more electricity, so can transmit electricity without large wiring that causes permitting problems.

David Holzman: American communities are too sprawling to have efficient transportation. What are the costs per tonne of CO2 avoided? Sources?

Browner: There are many sources for this.

Markey: We are in the presence of an historic person. She will be the quarterback for this.

Hockfield: Closing.

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