Creepy

I’m in love with my basic cable — it costs about $12 bucks a month, but it’s not the cost that is most impressive. Nope, the best part is not having to watch CNN and Fox tell me how to think. That has spared me from viewing the creepy cult meme in all its glory. Via Will Bunch:

Look, we all know there’s a large media/consultant/insider permanent clique that’s camped out inside the Beltway — some people call them the Gang of 500, while Atrios refers to them as the Villagers. They were there for Bill Clinton, they’ve been there for Bush (literally for most of his presidency) and they’ll be there regardless of whether the winner in November is Hillary or Ron Paul — they’ve seen it all and they know that in the end it’s all about hardball and horserace, that platforms and even passion on the campaign trail are always just a matter of that other P-word: Positioning.

Now, for the first time since the current generation of Villagers took up the roost, there’s a candidate who’s not playing their game, who’s bringing new, young, previously non-political and enthusastic people into the system (inspiring them to not only open their hearts but their wallets, apparently).

Now, a lot of the Villagers and a lot of their counterparts in the provinces are going to spend this election working through the fact that the Senator from Illinois is black.

But what’s creeping most of these folks out isn’t really Barack Obama, it’s that the great unwashed might actually participate in politics and, even more hair-raising, that they might do it with the kind of passion that’s been drained out of the game by the existing superstructure. Horrors.

Energy week

This week the Emerging Issues forum is taking a long, intense look at energy and the future of North Carolina with respect to climate change, greater energy efficiency and self-sufficiency and so on.
While there is a lot of emphasis on green and alternatives, there’s also going to be a heavy focus on the corporate sector including a panel with both Bill Johnson of Progress Energy and Jim Rodgers of Duke Energy and another panel on “converting Green to Green” with Jeff Immelt, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, General Electric Corporation.
The whole things starts off with Thomas Friedman who will dutifully remind policy makers that only the free market can save us.
People who are honestly trying to change our energy structure know that getting corporate buy-in to new laws and regulations has to happen to get the bills passed and policy shifts started. But this is like riding a tiger. Eventually, the tiger gets hungry.

Here’s the agenda for the event:

2008 Annual Emerging Issues Forum
North Carolina’s Energy Futures: Realizing a State of Opportunity
McKimmon Center, North Carolina State University

Vision Statement: The transformation of the global energy economy represents the greatest economic opportunity for North Carolina since the Industrial Revolution. Our future economic well being, our environment and our national security depend on our leaders’ ability to drive the necessary change.

Monday, February 11, 2008

8:00 — 8:20 AM Welcome
James B. Hunt, Jr., Former Governor, North Carolina; Chair, Institute for Emerging Issues
James L. Oblinger, Chancellor, North Carolina State University
Anita R. Brown-Graham, Director, Institute for Emerging Issues

8:20 — 9:20 AM New Policy, New Politics
Thomas L. Friedman, Foreign Affairs Columnist, New York Times
The United States must face up to its energy challenges. Our reliance on foreign oil is a threat to our national security. Climate change is a threat to our national well-being. Millions of new consumers in developing countries will place competing demands on existing sources of energy, driving up prices. We have an unprecedented opportunity to make clean energy the next great global industry. Where will we find the broad, sustained, leadership required for the United States to address this multigenerational problem?

Introduction by: Former Governor James B. Hunt, Jr.

9:20 — 10:00 AM Energy Innovation as Economic Success
Amory Lovins, Cofounder, Chairman, and Chief Scientist, Rocky Mountain Institute
Imagine a world where the United States economy is not dependent on foreign oil and all the problems that implies. Alternative energy — solar, biomass, cellulosic ethanol and wind resources for example — can compete with coal and oil in the future. The automobile industry can be redesigned to become cleaner. Greener and more efficient buildings are possible. Can we retool our world so that we do not have to choose between oil dependence and revitalized cities and towns, between energy efficiency and economic growth? What does an energy policy look like encourages our own energy sources and enhances our environment, instead of causing climate change and foreign wars?

Introduction by: U.S. Senator Richard Burr, State of North Carolina and/or Erskine Bowles, President, The University of North Carolina (suggested)

10:00 — 10:20 AM Break

10:20 — 11:00 AM Turning Green Into Green
Jeff Immelt, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, General Electric Corporation — General Electric, a multi-billion dollar company, has profited handsomely from products such as wind turbines, aircraft engines and energy conservation technologies. General Electric is in the clean energy business because it makes money. The demand for green products and services has exceeded the company’s expectations, which shows that being a good environmental steward is a competitive advantage. How has General Electric profited from the demand for clean technology? How does going green positively affect the bottom line?

Introduction by: Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight

11:00 — 11:40 AM Green in North Carolina
A Panel Discussion with (HOLD: National Public Radio)
Chuck Swoboda, Chief Executive Officer and President, Cree, Inc.
Thomas Nagy, Executive Vice President, Stakeholder Relations, Novozymes, Inc.
North Carolina has two leaders in clean energy right in its backyard with Cree and Novozymes. Cree, headquartered in Research Triangle Park, has replaced conventional bulb-based lighting with LED-based lighting, which uses less energy and lasts longer than traditional bulbs. Novozymes, based in Denmark with corporate headquarters in Franklinton, North Carolina, provides more than half of the enzymes for ethanol production in the United States and has developed technology to convert biomass such as switch grass to alternative fuels. How does science becoming big business by changing the way we live?

11:40 — 12:20 PM Change is Inevitable
A Panel Discussion Moderated by Tom Ross, President, Davidson College
Jim Rogers, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Duke Energy Corporation
Bill Johnson, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Progress Energy, Inc.
North Carolina’s two investor-owned utilities are in the midst of major policy changes. How will the utility business model adapt to meet the challenges and opportunities presented by the demand for cleaner energy? This panel discussion with the CEOs of the state’s largest utilities will address the changes likely in the electric industry and its implications for North Carolina citizens.

12:20 — 1:45 PM LUNCH

1:45 — 2:25 PM Driving in Circles: Energy Challenges in the Transportation Sector
A Panel Discussion Moderated by Brad Wilson, Co-Chair of the North Carolina General Assembly 21st Century Transportation Committee
David Greene, Corporate Fellow, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Center for Transportation Analysis

Therese Langer, Transportation Program Director, American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy
North Carolina’s population is projected to grow by several million residents in the next 25 years. The choices we make today concerning transportation and the built environment have huge implications for our state’s future. Diverse transportation options — such as light rail, buses and pedestrian friendly development – must be part of North Carolina’s future. North Carolinians already travel more miles per capita than most Americans. Our cities are already subject to poor local air quality. What policies on transportation infrastructure are needed to meet this challenge? Do we need new controls on land use? Should North Carolina legislate fuel economy standards, following the precedent established by the state of California? David Greene and Therese Langer will explore all of these angles in the expert panel discussion.

2:25 — 2:45 PM Break

2:45 — 4:00 PM Working Group Report Back and Breakout Sessions
Breakout Session #1: Market Transformation
Breakout Session #2: Science and Education Solutions
Breakout Session #3: Financial Foundations

A Crisis of Global Proportions
Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Director-General of The Energy and Resources Institute
Scientists now agree that global climate change is a reality. North Carolina’s coastal regions are particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels and to increases in the frequency and strength of hurricanes. Beyond coastal areas, climate change could have a variety of negative effects on the agricultural and forestry industries. The environmental damage from coal-fired plants and motor vehicles will only increase as North Carolina’s population grows. More emissions will lower air visibility levels in the state’s mountains and push up smog levels. In turn, this will increase healthcare costs to businesses and society at large. Dr. Pachauri, in his role as the Chairman of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), will talk about the science of global climate change and the threat to human health and the environment. How does climate change threaten to disrupt economic activity and social stability across the world? How can we better understand the connections between social justice and environmental justice and craft a global response to a global challenge? Why should we as a state care about this issue?

Introduction by: Dan Solomon, Dean of the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, North Carolina State University/Louis Martin-Vega, Dean of the College of Engineering, North Carolina State University (suggested)

4:45 — 5:00 PM Closing

Monday Evening Leadership Dinner

6:00 PM Dinner
6:45 PM Leadership Dinner Speaker
Michael Shellenberger, CEO, The Breakthrough Institute

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

8:00 — 8:15 AM Welcome

8:15 — 8:45 AM Addressing North Carolina’s Future Energy Challenges Today
Governor Mike Easley, State of North Carolina— What should North Carolina do in the near term to prepare for its future energy challenges? What can North Carolina do to capitalize on the new energy economy as other states have done?

Introduction by: Former Governor James B. Hunt, Jr.

8:45 — 9:00AM Breakout Session Report Back
Anita Brown-Graham, Director, Institute for Emerging Issues

9:00 — 10:00 AM The New Faces of North Carolina’s Energy Economy
Moderated by Jo Anne Sanford, Blount Street Advisors and Sanford Law Office
Victoria M. Holt, Senior Vice-President, Glass and Fiber Glass, PPG Industries: Fiber Glass Industry Grows with Energy Markets
What was the driving force behind the decision to save an old-line manufacturing company to take advantage of the market for wind energy? What obstacles existed during this retooling process? What are the manufacturing opportunities for North Carolina — both as inputs to the production process and in the final product sales? What workforce issues if any did PPG face?

J. Christopher Clemens, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Co-Founder, Megawatt Solar: From Lab to Market
What are the technology transfer issues bringing a technology out of the laboratory into the market? Who controls intellectual property? What are the manufacturing opportunities for North Carolina? What are the permitting issues for locating solar generating facilities within the state?

Dennis Quaintance, Developer and President, Proximity Hotel: Greening an Old Business
What are the financing, regulatory, workforce and market issues with developing a green hotel?

David Bennert, Co-Founder, Innova Homes: Building a Green Future
What are the workforce issues, financing and supply chain issues with building energy efficient modular homes?

10:00 — 10:20 AM Break

10:20 — 11:20 AM North Carolina Responds
Moderated by Ms. Karen LeVert Co-Founder, President and CEO Southeast TechInventures (invited)
Scott Ralls, President, North Carolina Community College System

Robert K. McMahan, Senior Advisor to the State of North Carolina for Science and Technology and Executive Director, North Carolina Board of Science and Technology

Terry Bellamy, Mayor, City of Asheville

James Y. Kerr, II, Commissioner, North Carolina Utilities Commission

11:20 — 12:00 PM Investing in Individuals and Communities
Majora Carter, Executive Director, Sustainable South Bronx
Often there is a strong connection between poverty alleviation and the green economy. If we are to truly capitalize on the energy market, we must use it to provide a brighter future for the country’s less fortunate by offering green job training, for example. Underprivileged North Carolinians stand to be the biggest beneficiaries of the green economy.

Introduction by: Carlos Sanchez, Director of Regulatory and External Affairs, AT&T North Carolina

12:00 — 2:00 PM LUNCH
Investing in Our Financial Future
Ken Lewis, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President, Bank of America Corporation
North Carolina is home to some of the largest financial institutions in the country. Financial institutions can and should play a part in the development of environmentally sustainable business practices through lending, investing and the creation of new products and services. How can Bank of America help mobilize the financial sector with green underwriting, packaging of incentives into loans and adjusting payback formulas to spur the energy economy in North Carolina?

Introduction by: House Speaker Joe Hackney

2:05 PM Closing and Wrap Up
James B. Hunt, Jr.