Here in the Newseum in Washington , DC, many of the leaders of the United States are all in one room focused on clean energy. To name a few:
1. Majority Leader Harry Reid
2. Speaker Nancy Pelosi
3. DOE Secretary Steve Chu
4. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar
5. Energy Czar Carol Browner
6. VP Al Gore
7. President Bill Clinton
8. Senator Byron Dorgan
9. Senator Jeff Bingaman
10. Congressman Ed Markey
11. John Sweeney, AFLCIO
12. John Podesta
13. Carl Pope, Sierra Club
14. Ex-CEO Wal Mart - Lee Scott
15. T. Boone Pickens
16. Van Jones
17. Bobby Kennedy, Jr.
18. Jon Wellinghoff, Chair of FERC
While clean energy broadly speaking is on the table, the summit is mainly focused on power transmission -- how do you get solar, wind and other renewables to the grid? Bracken Hendricks of the Center for American Progress released a study that outlines how to develop a clean energy grid:
Senator Reid opened up the gathering with a focus on our dependence on imported oil. He noted its corrosive effect both on the US economy and national security.
Senator Wirth then asked Bill Clinton why it took so long to get to this point of action on clean energy. "We didn't have the votes," said President Clinton causing a humorous stir in the group.
President Clinton went on to talk about the critical need to gather steam on a climate bill that would put a price on carbon.
Al Gore then spoke and highlighted the reasons to move to the clean energy grid faster than ever thought possible.
Pelosi then spoke and acknowledged Bill Clinton and Al Gore saying that they are "broad in their thinking and specific in their recommendations."
T. Boone Pickens took up the mic and said "I am 80 years old, I don't have much time -- I am not a big believer in R & D because I am afraid the answer might come too late [laughter in the room]. " Pickens went on to highlight the need to build out a clean grid and also to use natural gas for large, long-distance trucks.
Van Jones then focused on green jobs and the low-income populations. "We can fight poverty and climate change at the same time... let's have kids put down handguns and pick up caulking guns, " he stated.
Steve Chu, DOE Sec., opened his remarks with a discussion of transmission. He noted that there are new direct current transmission and we need more research to figure out the best technologies to use for the the clean energy grid.
Ed Markey noted that the current state of energy is very much like the state of broadband in 1996. Back in 1996 "not one household in America had high-speed internet." By setting up the market right, the government unleashed tremendous private capital and innovation and that lead to Ebay, Amazon, Google and other companies and "3 million jobs."