College presidents endorse RE-ENERGYSE

May 4, 2010, 1:01 a.m.
College presidents endorse RE-ENERGYSE
More than 100 student body presidents endorsed RE-ENERGYSE in a letter to Congress. (HARRISON TRUONG/The Stanford Daily)

U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Representative Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.) last week received a call to action on energy issues from 107 student body presidents of American colleges and universities.

The presidents, in a move spearheaded by former ASSU President David Gobaud, a coterminal student in computer science, signed a letter endorsing the Department of Energy’s “REgaining our ENERGY Science and Engineering Edge” (RE-ENERGYSE) proposal.

The letter urged Congress to support the “proposal and fully meet the FY2011 budget request for $55 million.”

Junior Teryn Norris, director of Americans for Energy Leadership, has long been involved with the mobilization effort behind the proposal. He collaborated with Gobaud on the cross-campus letter and is taking the quarter off to lead advocacy efforts in Washington D.C.

Norris is a former Daily columnist.

“RE-ENERGYSE would be the first federal program to focus specifically on developing clean energy science and engineering programs in a comprehensive manner at the University level, community and technical college level, as well as K through 12 schools,” Norris said.

Over the years, a number of federal programs have striven to develop the so-called “green collar” workforce, focusing on the retrofitting of buildings and the installation of solar panels.

“But there hasn’t been a federal program that is really focused on the more advanced, high-tech science and energy jobs that will lead the innovation front in clean energy,” Norris said.

Proponents of the proposal argue that the United States is at a critical stage of energy innovation. They claim that clean energy competitiveness has parallels with the space race that ensued after the Soviet Union launched Sputnik in 1957.

“Right now, the United States is in a global race to develop competitive clean industries,” Norris said. “Countries like China are investing massive amounts to develop [and] dominate the clean energy industry and grow their market share.”

“It’s critical for the United States to make sure that we’re at the leading front of this industry and that includes a serious federal investment and advanced energy workforce development,” he added.

Gobaud similarly wanted “to see America become the leader in clean energy technology” and reduce its dependence on nonrenewable energy sources.

“This is something that students across the country, as has been shown by this letter, support and this is something that we hope Congress will pass this time in the budget,” Gobaud said.

Theo Gibbs ’11, co-president of Students for a Sustainable Stanford, added to the chorus of support for RE-ENERGYSE.

“I think it is an important and exciting initiative that links students to policy,” Gibbs said.

The proposal is a “national program with a lot of momentum” to change the way people think about “where climate change is going to move,” she added.

Gibbs said the proposal comes at a crucial junction for California’s energy policy, amid calls for the repeal of climate law A.B. 32. She said the proposal has the potential to stimulate both economic growth and sustainable energy development.

RE-ENERGYSE was included in Obama administration’s budget request for FY2010, but was rejected by Congress during the mark-up process. It was reintroduced in the FY2011 budget and is set to go under review by the Appropriations Subcommittees on Energy and Water Development in the House and Senate, chaired by Visclosky and Dorgan, respectively.

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