Washington Advocacy Trip: Part 2

You learn a lot about the political process by walking the halls of Congress. Not much goes on in the chambers, but much goes on in the offices and halls of the Senate & House office buildings.

We started off our Tuesday morning meeting with Peter Rogoff, Undersecretary of Transportation. Transportation has been a hot topic, as the transportation trust fund has been severely underfunded for years. Much of this has to do with the fact that the gas tax has not been raised since 1993. Over that time, CAFE standards have risen while average miles driven has dropped. The result is the situation we have right now.

Our group had concerns about overall funding, but also that proposed transportation bills lack progressive solutions to transportation, such as public transit, ride-sharing and technology. One such piece of technology we used as an example was Ridescout. The app provides multiple options for getting from point A to point B, including walking (and how many calories you would burn), using Uber and Lyft, public transportation and cars. The tech term is “Mobility-as-a-Service.” My colleague, Mark Bauhaus from Silicon Valley was a strong proponent these technology solutions.

We heard several options for funding as we headed over to the Senate offices for more meetings. We met with both sides of the aisle, and they all had a similar message – we don’t know where the money is going to come from. Some advocate raising the gas tax and attaching an automatic inflation increase while some want to use re-patriated funds from corporations to cover costs. We heard from Ethan Garber that truckers are actually in favor of raising the gas tax. Some want to change the word tax to “user fee.” We were concerned that using the re-patriated funds is only a short-term solution.

Just about everybody agreed that nothing was going to happen during this Congress and that another stop-gap funding solution is in the works. The unfortunate aspect is that they have used a technique called smoothing federal pensions to pay for the gap in funding. Basically, they have raided workers pensions – that’s not right!

I have to say that I was very impressed with the ten Senate offices that we met with, both Republican and Democrat. Most meetings were with staffers, but Senator Boozman, a Republican from Arkansas, agreed to meet with us. Like the staffers we met, the Senator listened, asked good questions and was genuinely interested in what we had to say.

Our team meeting with Arkansas Senator Boozman

Our team meeting with Arkansas Senator Boozman

We talked a lot about the economic side of things. Being green is green! For example, we discussed the number of jobs that clean energy has brought to the US. In fact, California now has more clean energy jobs than Hollywood jobs!

As businesspeople, we advocated for policies and legislation that enables clean energy business owners to write long-term business plans. Tax incentives for renewable energy (solar, wind & efficiencies) are an on-again/off-again proposition, while subsidies for fossil fuels are permanent. We simply would like to see a level playing field for all types of energy, not just the deep-pockets of oil, gas and coal. So, with equivalent incentives, clean energy business owners can lay out long-term business and employment plans.

And our last topic of the day, we also discussed the option of CEITs (Clean Energy Investment Trusts) as a way to fund clean energy projects. REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts) are a proven way to fund housing/office/retail development and provide cash flow to investors. An equivalent investment vehicle would foster additional clean energy development plus it would give a market signal that government was behind it.

Part 3 will cover our Wednesday meetings and other issues we discussed with the administration and legislators.

Washington Advocacy Trip: Part 1

I arrived in Washington DC last week to join 20 other business leaders as part of E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs) advocacy week. This was a very dynamic and accomplished group and I was honored to be a part it.

They broke us up into teams and again, I was amazed at the quality of individuals they had assembled. My team included:

  • Marc Boom, the E2 Director of Advocacy
  • Mark Bauhaus, a technology veteran from silicon valley, and partner at JustBusiness
  • Ethan Garber, CEO of IdleAir
  • Norm Seip, USAF Lieutenant General (Ret), national security consultant
Our team in the Russell Senate Office Building

Our team in the Russell Senate Office Building

We had multiple objectives for our meetings:

  • Demonstrate to legislators and the administration the importance of marrying economic and environmental interests.
  • Establish relationships with legislators on both sides of the aisle.
  • Discuss our policy agenda which include
    • The importance of incentives and renewable energy tax credits
    • Clean energy financing opportunities
    • Climate Change legislation and rules
    • The EPA Clean Power Plan
    • A Transportation Bill that is sustainable both financially and environmentally
    • Continued support for the military’s research into renewable energy

A couple of very busy days awaited of us after our briefing on Monday night. Part 2 will go over our first day of advocacy…

Preparing to Meet Lawmakers

Melissa and I arrived safe and sound in DC this morning. I’m very much looking forward to heading to Capital Hill tomorrow morning with my colleagues from E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs).

We are divided up into several groups. My group will include two other green entrepreneurs and a retired General. Our first day will include meetings with nine Senators (or their staff.) Our second day we’ll be meeting with five House Members plus a couple folks from the Administration.

As I was spending the last couple of hours researching the different Senators and Representatives, I find it so amazing the wide variety of “opinions” on economic, environmental and energy issues. Even within parties!

Our goal is to educate on the importance of legislation designed to foster green economic growth, reduce emissions and make our transportation system as efficient and safe as possible. I look forward to the opportunity!

Mr. Krull Goes to Washington

I am looking forward to heading to Washington, DC on April 27th as part of a coalition of environmental-based entrepreneurs meeting with lawmakers and administration officials. The trip is being organized by E2, Environmental Entrepreneurs, a non-partisan community of business leaders who promote sound environmental policy that builds economic prosperity.

Krull & Company has been a member of E2 since early 2014 and has taken an active role in encouraging lawmakers to adopt environmentally responsible policies and laws.

On this trip, we will be focusing on three issues:

  • Supporting clean energy policies and programs in upcoming energy bills and tax reform
  • Supporting and defending the implementation of policies to reduce greenhouse gases in an economically beneficial way (Clean Power Plan)
  • Supporting a new transportation bill that prioritizes innovation, lowers environmental impacts and increases economic efficiency.

What does this mean for you?

All of these issues affect our clients in some way – from renewable energy tax credits to more efficient forms of transportation. They also are relevant to our strategies of investing in sustainable companies and divesting from fossil fuels.

I will keep you up to date on the results.

Pete Krull