On June 26, Mintz Levin and E2: Environmental Entrepreneurs celebrated E2’s 15th Anniversary with a program titled “Revitalizing America’s Middle Class in a Clean Energy Economy.” The event, held at Mintz’s Boston office, featured a keynote address from Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), E2’s National Executive Director Bob Keefe, Conservation Services Group CEO Steve Cowell, E2’s New England Chapter Director Berl Hartman, and Bill Ravanesi, Senior Director of the Health Care Green Building and Energy Program for Healthcare Without Harm. Several public officials were also in attendance, including MassCEC CEO Alicia Barton and State Senator Mike Barrett. To hear more about how these leaders believe clean energy can create quality jobs and positively impact the middle class, read on:
- Invest in Infrastructure: Senator Warren passionately made the case that cleantech infrastructure investments can yield big dividends both in promoting renewable energy sources as well as create sustainable jobs for the working class. Cowell backed this argument up with a chart showing that in the 1990s Massachusetts broke the tie between rising greenhouse gas emissions and economic growth, in part thanks to the state’s emphasis on energy efficiency infrastructure.
- Make Room for Research and Education: Education and research are two ways to invest in clean energy both in the present and future. However, many believe the government’s current commitment in this area is not enough. According to Warren, as public university funding decreases and costs skyrocket, professors can’t effectively instruct the next generation of clean energy innovators. Warren also believes the decline in government research funding since the 1980s has left the U.S. vulnerable to losing the scientists and developers who will lead the nation into a clean energy future.
- Regulate Smarter: Senator Warren made a case for “smart regulations” that lead to innovations and behavioral change. Examples of this concept exist both in Washington and Massachusetts. Warren believes EPA’s Clean Power Plan gives states plenty of latitude to create unique and effective policies while working toward a common goal. Meanwhile, Bob Keefe believes the biggest action is happening in state legislatures, holding up Senator Barrett’s carbon fee legislation as a prime example.