Monday, January 29, 2007

Politically Pushing Sustainability, and One Example of the Fruits

As I mentioned on the weekend, the signs and indications are that Oregon is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the developing forms of the 21st century economy, and so there is a need for our leaders and managers to recognize the opportunity and guide us forward to maximize it. Happily the voices appear to be singing much the same note under the dome and at Mahonia, as this now weirdly-formatted piece from last week's Statesman-Journal describes:
Oregon State University professor Jane Lubchenco, who was chairwoman of the governor's advisory group on global warming, said that it is urgent that global-warming policies are enacted now. She said that conclusive evidence shows that climate change is real and it's happening even faster and with more detrimental consequences than originally predicted.

Lubchenco said that Oregon's leadership -- in concert with actions in California and other states -- could force federal dialogue on global-warming policies.

"If we enact our priorities this session, we will create a sustainable economy and a sustainable environment for future generations," Kulongoski said. "We can't wait any longer."

"Global-warming pollution takes awhile to have an effect on temperature, and temperature takes awhile to have an effect on snow levels and the sea," said Jeremiah Baumann of the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group. "Even if we could stop all global-warming pollution now, the Earth would continue to warm. It's good news for the country -- and the planet really -- that Oregon is ready to take a leadership role."

Just an hour after the governor's remarks on climate change, the House Committee on Energy and the Environment began hearings on biofuels legislation. The package of proposals includes a requirement that biodiesel and ethanol are ingredients of fuels sold in Oregon, expansion of property tax incentives for biofuel production facilities and creation of an income tax incentive for consumer use of biofuel.

The biofuels package is one of the pieces of the governor's climate change initiative, but it also is touted as a key to economic development and energy independence for Oregon.
Growing crops for biofuels will get most of the attention and focus as our way of slowing global warming while developing our economy, but there are so many other outlets for the burgeoning interest in this sector. Oregon holds a bounty of alternative energy sources in addition to biofuels, waiting to be tapped and harnessed by the creative: geothermal, solar (how's 300 or more days of sun in large sections of the state?), wind, wave...

Hey, did someone say wave? That's right, it's being suggested that the technology exists now to provide substantial electricity using offshore bouys that take in wave energy and transmit it to shore, where it can be distributed through existing power grids. At least I thought it was just being suggested; apparently it's already being done by a company called Ocean Power Technologies, which recently submitted applications to FERC for two power generating systems in Oregon, capable of supplying 200 megawatts of power--enough for about 100,000 homes.

That's a lot of energy for a relatively small profile, near-zero-byproduct system that uses a resource Oregonians collectively own lock, stock and barrel--their coastline. Think of that: what's the only state in the country which can exercise almost total freedom to harvest waves off its own shores? As Madge used to say, you're soaking in it!

And notice what else is bringing OPT to the state:
The company said the projects, which utilise the wave energy resources of Oregon to generate energy, are eligible for the Oregon Business Energy Tax Credit and the proposed Oregon Production Incentive.
I'm not a giant fan of subsidies and big tax exemptions in order to entice industry to move to the state, but in this case you have a target-industry market that brings benefit to several different types of bottom lines, and so encouraging this kind of investment is a no-brainer. And apparently it's not only businesses thinking and deciding to move to the state, as AP pointed out yesterday:
Oregon is the No. 2 destination nationally for people moving from other states, according to a study by United Van Lines.

The St. Louis company found that 4,600 people headed for Oregon in 2006, ranking the state just behind No. 1 North Carolina.

The majority of the newcomers moved into areas along the Interstate 5 corridor, from Portland to Salem to Medford, with some settling in Bend, she said.

Some of the reasons they cited include the weather, the landscape and quality of life and affordable homes, said Jeri Scott, the executive vice president of Coldwell Banker Mountain West in Salem.

"Oregon is also seen as an entrepreneurial state," Scott said. "It is a big draw for people who want to open their own business."
Anyone sensing a pattern?