ATHENS, Ohio (March 9, 2006) -- Ohio University President Roderick McDavis and U.S. Sen. George Voinovich met with major stakeholders in Columbus on Friday to discuss Ohio's role in the national effort to reduce dependence on foreign energy. Sen. Voinovich and Ohio University's Consortium for Energy, Economics and the Environment (CE3) hosted the energy summit.
CE3 is a multidisciplinary organization that brings together Ohio University's George V. Voinovich Center for Leadership and Public Affairs, the Russ College of Engineering and the College of Arts and Sciences to explore ways to develop safe, reliable, affordable and non-polluting sources of energy.
The organization is made up of faculty, students, industry, nonprofit groups and federal agencies who meet to discuss issues and implement projects to help balance the relationship between energy needs, the economy and the environment. Among the applied research efforts CE3 has been involved in are clean coal research resulting in reduced emissions from power plants, research through Ohio University's Clean Air Center which led to ozone mapping in Cleveland, Columbus and Dayton, and work to develop a new kind of mercury-tracking program.
Kevin Crist, associate professor of chemical engineering at Ohio University and director of the Air Quality Center, is one of the principals involved in CE3.
"The goal of the conference was to bring together the major stakeholders in the state involved with energy production and usage, including CEOs and executives from the major industries and government agencies across the state, to examine our nation's energy policy and to identify solutions to ease our energy dependence on foreign nations and to provide an Ohio perspective on these solutions," Crist said.
"Many issues related to energy and the environment are multifaceted and difficult for a single person or discipline to tackle," McDavis said. "CE3 seeks to meet the needs of the region and nation by conducting applied research that improves and advances knowledge systems.
"Projects that rely upon students to brainstorm, design…implement, monitor, evaluate and modify solutions create powerful learning opportunities," he said. "Our projects help undergraduate and graduate students prepare for what lies beyond college and assists the region by fostering the development of a highly-skilled workforce."
McDavis then introduced Sen. Voinovich, who he called "one of the nation's top advocates for harmonizing energy, environment and economic policies."
The senator, who is the 2005 Ohio University Alumnus of the Year, serves on the environment and public works committee and is chairman of the clean air, climate change and nuclear safety subcommittee. Sen. Voinovich sponsored major energy legislation as an Ohio state legislator, including the bill to create the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and during his tenure as governor, he initiated efforts to improve pollution and protect the environment.
"I sincerely want to thank President McDavis and Ohio University for hosting the Energy Summit and for taking such strong leadership in the creation of the CE3," Sen. Voinovich said. "I have been honored to work closely with CE3 since its inception several years ago and it is a very unique partnership that recognizes the interdependence of our energy, economic, and environmental needs.
"Harmonizing these policies is a key component of what I refer to as the 'Second Declaration of Independence' – to make us less reliant on foreign sources of energy," he added. "The summit focused on improving our understanding that there is a symbiotic relationship between energy, economic and environmental needs. Representatives from industry, environment, business, government and education must work together to harmonize our environment, energy and economic policies. I plan to take what I gained at the summit and use it as a template for what we do in the Senate on energy-passage of legislation that will be complementary to what the President set forth in the State of the Union."
Following Sen. Voinovich's opening remarks, Don McConnell, corporate senior vice president of Battelle Memorial Institute and co-manager of five Department of Energy sponsored labs, led a briefing on Ohio's energy profile.
David Conover, who is the principal deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy and director of the Climate Change Technology Program, presented Washington's perspective on the nation's energy situation.
Participants then broke into four workgroups, which focused on the topics of transportation, sustainable development, alternate energy and fossil fuels. The workgroups discussed their subject in relation to its potential to displace imported oil and other sources of fuels as well as its realistic potential to bring economic development to Ohio while having minimal environmental impact.
The workgroups then made presentations to the rest of the assembly and discussed their findings. Mike Zimmerman, a partner at Thompson Hine LLP who practices in the law firm's energy practice group, moderated the conversation.
A final report from the summit is expected to be finished in four to six weeks. Sen. Voinovich will use the report to develop national policy at the federal level. The report also will be useful in coordinating statewide activities in conjunction with Ohio governor Bob Taft's energy plan which was released on Feb. 24.
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