Virginia Energy Policy Forum 2016

With all the buzz around the the 2015 Clean Power Plan set in place by President Obama, energy has been a hot topic as of late. With Virginia being a powerhouse of coal and natural gas, this topic hits home for us. On June 17th, the 2016 Virginia Energy Policy Forum was held in Hampton, VA hosted by Senator Mark Warner and Hampton University. This was a large scale event which included many sessions throughout the day, panels and networking opportunities, and keynote speech by Dr. Ernest Moniz, 13th Secretary of Energy. The event was attended by TerraScapes Organizer Symone Moore and Moms Clean Air Force Organizer Alden Cleanthes.
The first session attended was “Energy Policy 101” with panelists Adam Sieminski of the US Energy Information Administration, Samantha Carl-Yoder of the U.S. State Department Bureau of Energy Resources, and Hayes Framme from the Office of Governor Terry McAuliffe. This session discussed energy policy basics and trends, as well as specific projects. One great tidbit of information was that energy policy making can be thought of as a pretzel, a mechanism of three sections that interweave and work together to create a balanced being, as explained by Mr. Sieminski. Its a matter of balancing environmental factors, security measures, and economics, which is telling of why creating policy where every party is satisfied can be challenge. Some energy trends agreed upon across the board include the fact that the US is an energy superpower in natural gas production, natural gas use is increasing while coal is decreasing. In addition, the desire to get involved with renewables has increased as well. Samantha Carl-Yoder also emphasized that natural gas is a “bridge fuel” to other forms of energy, to hopefully bridge the divide between coal and cleaner energy sources.
Some other sessions include “The Future of Energy” “New Developments in Clean Energy Technology” and “Energy Security and Resiliency”, but the star of of show was the keynote lunch with Senator Mark Warner and Dr. Ernest Moniz. Senator Warner and Dr. Moniz gave direct yet, charismatic speeches, some of the topics including innovation, sea level rise and the “road from Paris”. Of course talking about COP 21, the Paris Climate Conference in 2015 and what is to come after major changes discussed.
All in all, the event was a great learning opportunity in regards to energy in Virginia and nationwide. The sessions were relevant and the panels were candid with their audiences, providing a very honest atmosphere. It was also a plus that the event was open and free to the public, hopefully there is more to come from Senator Warner to increase public engagement and keep the conversation going!

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