A national clean energy agenda was presented today at an Earthjustice energy forum featuring Kathleen Sebelius -- the gutsy governor of Kansas who battled powerful coal interests to lead her state into a sustainable energy future.
"What Governor Sebelius is doing for Kansas is what we hope the next president will do for America -- create a bold new course, away from our addiction to polluting fossil fuels and toward sustainable, job-creating, clean energy for all Americans, " said Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen.
The forum, "Out of Kansas -- A National Clean Energy Agenda," brought together some of the country's finest thinkers to discuss energy efficiency, sustainable energy alternatives such as wind and solar, the role of America in fighting climate change, and how to transition away from a carbon-based economy.
Governor Sebelius spoke about her 8-month battle to stop expansion of a coal plant near Holcomb, Kansas that would have poured out 11 million tons of greenhouse gases every year. The struggle made Sebelius nationally famous and set Kansas up as a national leader in the movement towards clean, sustainable energy sources.
The governor also set forth a variety of clean energy initiatives she has developed in collaboration with other governors who are acting in the absence of federal leadership.
"We are developing our own climate change strategy," said Sebelius.
After Governor Sebelius spoke, a panel of Colorado-based sustainable energy experts discussed what they believe should be the key elements of a new, national clean energy agenda.
The panelists included:
- Ronald L. Lehr, former chairman of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, who now practices law and consults about energy and telecommunications regulation and business matters. He worked for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on the Department of Energy program, "Wind Powering America."
- Randy Udall, former director of the Community Office for Resource Efficiency (CORE) in western Colorado, is one of the nation's leading activists in promoting energy sustainability. Udall is also co-founder of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil-USA, and speaks widely on why "energy is an IQ test Americans tend to fail."
- Tom Plant, director of the Colorado Governor's Energy Office. Before that, he served as executive director of the Center for ReSource Conservation, a non-profit that implements programs on energy efficiency, renewable energy, water conservation, green building and construction waste reduction. From 1998 to 2006, Plant represented District 13 in the Colorado House of Representatives. He also worked in the Climate Change department of the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, DC.