In my blog last week (Transformation is About to be Transformed in the Northwest- Part One), I discussed the highlights from the Beyond Oil: Transforming Transportation conference held at the Seattle Center on September 7, 2012. Graham & Dunn held a private lunch reception for industry/government stakeholders in honor of Amory Lovins, Chief Scientist at the Rocky Mountain Institute and conference keynote speaker, the day before the conference.
While there were many good remarks and solutions offered by Mr. Lovins, I am going to touch on answers that he provided to two questions from the audience (the first one being my own question). The two questions were: (1) what are the top three things we can do to transform transportation here in Washington/the Pacific Northwest and (2) how can we get anything done with an effective standstill at the federal government given the current political divisions?
Mr. Lovins’ answer to the first question was direct and insightful. The three things he recommended to transform transportation in the Pacific Northwest are: (1) implement feebates (rebates for consumers of efficient vehicles in a particular class offset by fees paid by consumers of inefficient vehicles in the same class), (2) play to our strength in the aerospace and heavy trucking industries and focus on transforming transportation regarding alternative fuels and more use of lighter weight, yet stronger composite materials, pioneered by Boeing and its suppliers, and (3) move away from a taxing structure that is based on gallon/petroleum purchases at the pumps and replace this tax based on road usage.
The answer to the second question was even more direct: all transportation transformation can take place locally—at a regional, state, or local level and we can act independent on all of his recommendations to the first question independent of the federal government.
Mr. Lovins has a quiet voice with little inflection. But you could hear a pin drop in that room as he held everyone’s full attention. He speaks with natural authority and clarity. I have never seen anyone answer questions better –and with such credibility. Let us hope that those thought leaders in the room and at the conference were and are sufficiently inspired to act locally to transform transportation here in the Pacific Northwest.