Commonwealth National Podcast

In the Balance: Energy, Economy and Environment


Part of The Chevron California Innovation Series

Raj Atluru, Managing Director, Draper Fisher Jurvetson
Ralph Cavanagh, Energy Co-director, Natural Resources Defense Council
Cathy Reheis-Boyd, President, Western States Petroleum Association
Jack Stewart, President, California Manufacturers and Technology Association
Virgil Welch, Special Assistant to the Chairman, California Air Resources Board
Greg Dalton, Climate One - Moderator

The low-carbon economy is California’s future. But this panel of energy experts convened by Climate One disagrees on how fast that transition will take, and how it will impact the economy. Jack Stewart, President, California Manufacturers and Technology Association, and Cathy Reheis-Boyd, President, Western States Petroleum Association, repeatedly stress that California could be more business friendly, and that green jobs alone won’t pull the state out of recession. “We all see a clean energy future,” Stewart says. “The question is: When do we get there? How fast do we get there? And at what cost?” “We cannot lose sight of the fact that we are not in a good state in California,” says Reheis-Boyd. “I can tell you my members are making some very difficult choices about where to invest their next dollar.” We have to get the rules right, the remaining panel members say, but they see no trade-off between environmental and economic good. “I think the energy history of California over the last 30 years is how to do both well,” says Ralph Cavanagh, Energy co-director, Natural Resources Defense Council. “Nobody is satisfied with 12.4% unemployment, but I don’t think the answer is doing less of what we already know we do better than anyone else. I think it’s speeding up.” For Virgil Welch, Special Assistant to the Chairman of the California Air Resources Board, it’s also about maintaining California’s global competitiveness. “The policies that we as a state are working on are not just what we need to do for our energy and environmental needs, but they’re critical to driving us towards where the global economy is heading, which is clean energy.” As long as California’s maintains its forward-thinking policy framework, green innovators will call the state home, says, Raj Atluru, Managing Director at the venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson. “California has succeeded over the last century because of its innovation. We’ve innovated in entertainment, flight, defense, communications, PCs, the Internet. Our bet, at our firm, is that the next wave of innovation is going to be the green jobs economy. ”

This program was recorded in front of a live audience at The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on October 12, 2010