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The web is now chockablock with "Open Letters to President-Elect Obama" where the world feels compelled to climb on our collective soapbox in the hope that he, like Santa, will read each letter and put something nice in the Christmas sack.

But this post isn't addressed directly to Obama... it is for you, netizens.  It is a plea to help push the idea of Amory Lovins for Energy Czar in an Obama administration (an idea that has been pushed by Chris McGowan and others).

In our current situation -- a listing auto industry, tanking economy and soaring energy prices -- I can think of no more important position than Energy Secretary, and no better place to affect change.  

The auto industry is asking for a huge bailout.  Many jobs will likely depend on the outcome.  But the big three automakers have dug their own, deep hole by building vehicles that are inefficient and that fewer and fewer people are willing to buy.  They have also resisted attempts to increase fuel efficiency standards and they haven't seriously invested in LEV/ZEV research such as Toyota or Honda have.  

So clearly, we are at an inflection point.  A targeted bailout with requirements to invest in building LEV/ZEVs is an opportunity to affect our auto industry, our energy future, our economy and the environment with a single stroke.  It is also an opportunity for an Obama administration to demonstrate leadership and boldness.  

But who to lead such an effort?  The names that have been floated around the 'net thus far -- Schwarzenegger, Sibelius etc. -- are not the names of people with the vision or background to enact such a game-changing gesture.

But Amory Lovins is such a peson.   He's a scientist, entrepeneur,  environmentalist, MacArthur Fellowship recipient and inventor of the hypercar, a 100 mpg design prototype.  He's an expert in energy efficiency and author of 29 books including "Winning the Energy Endgame".  He received a Time Magazine "Hero of the Planet" award in 2007 and has advised the pentagon and over a dozen countries on energy and security issues.

Drafting Lovins for Energy Czar and striking a forward-looking bailout deal with the big three would be game-changing moves by the Obama adminstration.  It would signal to Detroit and the world that we in the United States are serious about energy efficiency and transportation, and that we're willing to compete to build the cars and infrastructure for the future.  Cars that US workers would build.  Cars that we could once again export to the world.

What do you think?  Do you agree?  If so, how to draw attention to the idea of Lovins as Energy Secretary, netroots-style?

Originally posted to mcmCPH on Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 06:26 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

    •  No way--Lovins has been doing this for (7+ / 0-)

      30ish years, and runs circles around Gore.  It's been his life's passion, not politics.  Lovins would be too good to be true, and would deserve it for laying the groundwork in near-anonymity.

      •  What is this "this" you speak of? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rhubarb, snaglepuss

        Lovins has been doing this for 30ish years

        Creating bold new ideas? Yes.
        Experimenting with how to implement them? Yes.
        Communicating the ideas to others? Yes.

        Operating in Washington, running a Federal bureaucracy, and getting legislators to act accordingly?  Not so much.

        Lovins is a terrific model for how to think boldly about energy, and how to get things done mass-micro level. He and his ideas will get a lot of play going forward, I'm sure, as they well should.

        But Energy Secretary... I don't think so.

        America, you have earned a new puppy.

        by pat208 on Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 06:40:17 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  What is this "this" you speak of? (7+ / 0-)

          Lovins knows his way around DC.  He's advised the Pentagon on energy issues as well as foreign governments and large corporations.  I'm a big fan of Al Gore but I think Lovins would be better-suited to bring Detroit to the table in a serious way, as he knows both the terrain and the technical issues.

          •  I’m inclined to agree with Pat, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            pat208

            advising is not quite the same as managing.  Lovins would probably be better suited to head a task force or blue ribbon panel. Innovative thinker / entrepreneur types generally become restless, frustrated and fed up quickly when having to deal with bureaucracies.  I think a better choice would be someone who is more of a political operative, familiar with maneuvering in Congress, such as Gore.  But Lovins does have a lot of great ideas and should definitely have the ear of the Obama Administration.

            Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité

            by snaglepuss on Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 07:13:31 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  I'm sorry, but I'm not buying it. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            middle child

            I myself have had both a business career and an academic career. Idea people are not the same as management people.

            I would trust very few of my fellow academics - even the ones who know EVERYthing about how businesses run - to actually run a business. (Not with my money, anyway.)

            Lovins is a tremendous idea person. He has his place in the picture. He has no experience whatsoever managing an organization with the size and complexity of a government agency. It would be an expensive nightmare, and Lovins himself would be unable to get any of his ideas implemented - because that's not the role of the Cabinet Sec.

            America, you have earned a new puppy.

            by pat208 on Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 08:35:33 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, you're right. I'd much prefer to piss (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          esquimaux, xaxado

          around with one skilled in the fine art of politics and bureaucracy as that's served us so well to date.  Greenland and Iceland are melting, yada yada yada, so more and better politicians must be the answer.  Like now, when there's talk of bailing out the automakers and their shit cars again.  Jesus.  We all say "if only Carter's initiatives in energy conservation were followed through on...".  It was Lovins work at the Rocky Mountain Institute that was leading the way then.

          Lovins could well be a horrible choice at the leadership level.  I don't know him personally. But politics and smart energy have yet to mix.  If Lovins were to say in essence "Fuck Ford and GM, let them tank because we've got much better ideas for transportation" I'd be in full support regardless of his lack of political lust.

        •  More than thoughts (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          middle child

          Lovins and the RMI have studied the issues and understands them up and down. Which is exactly what one wants at the head of DoE.

          We won! Now the work begins.
          (-8.00, -8.31)

          by weirdscenes on Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 08:25:05 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Gore had repeatedly said (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        middle child

        that he wanted to approach and attack the climate crisis from a business perspective outside of Washington DC.

        Has that changed?

        We won! Now the work begins.
        (-8.00, -8.31)

        by weirdscenes on Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 08:23:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  But I thought the pre=eminent enrgy expert (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    snaglepuss

    of all the USA was Sarah Palin?

    I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

    by beemerr90s on Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 06:54:43 AM PST

  •  Yeah, it would be nice to see a (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    esquimaux, RosyFinch, middle child

    move away from the political all star team approach and get a real nuts and bolts person in there.  Our energy/climate issues will eventually be solved by people with screwdrivers and soldering irons.

  •  Wow, awesome call (6+ / 0-)

    Saw Amory Lovins speak at Tufts years ago, and he blew me away. Actually had an opportunity to meet him as well.

    His big thing was 'hypercars' - cars made of extremely lightweight composite materials. It was a very convincing concept, but hasn't seemed to have been taken up anywhere, even Japan.

    Anyway, I'd LOVE to see Amory Lovins involved with this administration in any capacity.

  •  I've been saying this for a while and hope it (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    esquimaux, fayea

    could come to pass.  When I saw him in SF earlier this year, he was asked if any of the campaigns had been in contact with him and he said yes, but would not go so far as to say who it was.

    I've thrown this out a few times here on DKos, and the response is usually "Amory who???"  Slowly but surely we can get the word out.

    One other thing in his favor:  He and RMI have worked with the military to increase the energy efficiency of their operations.  They're not interested in working with pie-in-the-sky utopians (other than weapons systems designers, but that's a different story), so that says something about the practical nature of RMI's work.

    Now, go spread some peace, love and understanding. Use force if necessary. - Phil N DeBlanc

    by lineatus on Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 07:14:15 AM PST

  •  Bingo! (0+ / 0-)

    got my vote - Small is Beautiful, baby, YEEEAHHHHH!

    Hope is, after all, the currency of popular politics, and a coin surprisingly hard to devalue. -- Fred Anderson, Crucible of War

    by ornerydad on Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 07:20:08 AM PST

  •  Nice (0+ / 0-)

    But Amory Lovins is such a peson [sic]. He's a scientist, entrepeneur [sic], environmentalist, MacArthur Fellowship recipient and inventor of the hypercar, a 100 mpg design prototype.

    Oh ... do you mean the famous hypercar that "may hit showrooms by 2005"?

    Let's add to your list. He's a college dropout, a consultant for oil/gas companies, and a prolific fossil-fuel apologist (for natural gas).

    The "scientist" claim I dispute. If he's a "scientist," then you should have no problem pulling up one of his scientific publications. I have not been able to find one, however.

    In the end, I think Vaclav Smil, distinguished professor of energy and environmental studies at the University of Manitoba (and a guy who actually has a real degree, unlike poor Amory), sums up Lovins best:

    [Energy Tribune]: In your writings, you point out how many times Amory Lovins, the energy efficiency advocate who heads the Rocky Mountain Institute, has been wrong in his predictions regarding the adoption of renewable energy. I laughed out loud when I read your line, "Inexplicably, Lovins retains his guru aura no matter how wrong he is." Why has Lovins been wrong so often? And why does he continue to get so much fawning press coverage?

    [Vaclav Smil]: Amory has become a celebrity after wholesaling his fairy-tale of "soft" decentralized small-scale energies as THE solution (with its deep countercultural, Berkeleyish appeal), and it is the first law of celebrity-hood that, right or wrong, coherent or not, you retain the status. Combine that with the just-noted mass scientific ignorance of the population and with Amory's sleek offerings of no-pain solutions (nothing will cost anything, or as he famously put it, "abating climate change for fun and profit") and you have new believers signing up every time he speaks. By the way, by this time we all should have been driving nothing but Lovinsian hypercars (something like 200 mpg, made like new Boeing 787s solely from carbon composites) whose conceptual design he launched more than a decade ago; have you seen any?

    Energy is serious business. This is not the job for a con man in the pocket of fossil-fuel companies who hands out "fairy-tales" and is so frequently wrong.

    This diary and the enthusiastic comments it generated are a good examples that the "just-noted mass scientific ignorance of the population" extends to the population of DailyKos too. sigh

    Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.
    -- George Eliot

    by bryfry on Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 07:54:27 AM PST

    •  Nice (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      esquimaux

      Hmm... you made a lot of points:

      1. He has an M.A. from Oxford plus honorary degrees.
      1. The Tesla is late, and expensive.  Does that make it less real?  Plus, the hypercar was a prototype.... a suggested design for Detroit.
      1. I've read Smil and I don't see how this in any way disqualifies Lovins.
      1. I see no evidence that Lovins is "in the pocket of the fossil-fuel companies", esp. when he is actively seeking to curtail consumption of their products.
      1. If he is a con man/fraud then he is succesfully conning Wal-Mart, DoD, governments etc. and apparently the con includes significant reduction of their energy bills.
      •  Nice (0+ / 0-)

        sorry one last point:  If you want to see what Lovins has published in scientific journals, you can start here.  The list includes Nature, NY Academy of Sciences, Science and more.

        •  No, you don't understand (0+ / 0-)

          I know that he has published a lot of papers on energy policy. That makes him an energy policy analyst, however, not a scientist.

          He calls himself as an "experimental physicist." Where are his publications on experimental physics?

          Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.
          -- George Eliot

          by bryfry on Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 08:43:19 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Uh ... (0+ / 0-)
        1. He has an M.A. from Oxford plus honorary degrees.

        Ha ha ha ... and you believed that? How does one get an MA without first having a bachelor's degree?

        In Lovins's case, he has one "by virtue of being a don." This means that Oxford gave him a pass (by special resolution) to hold an MA, because he was on their academic staff and didn't have the real qualifying degree -- that is, a real Oxford MA. Lovins never completed postgraduate study, and as far as I know, never completed a college program either. More information on Lovins's academic career is available on the internet.

        By the way, "honorary degrees" don't count. An honorary degree does not mean that you're educated; it just means that some school sucked up to you. I'm proud to have degrees from a school that has never once awarded an honorary degree.

        1. The Tesla is late, and expensive. Does that make it less real? Plus, the hypercar was a prototype.... a suggested design for Detroit.

        So? When is this fabulous hypercar going to be available? Ever?

        Until it goes to market and he actually sells some, Amory Lovins has been wrong on this too. There is no hypercar. He has invented a product that doesn't exist, a product that is worthless.

        1. I've read Smil and I don't see how this in any way disqualifies Lovins.

        With your biases, I can imagine that you don't.

        1. I see no evidence that Lovins is "in the pocket of the fossil-fuel companies", esp. when he is actively seeking to curtail consumption of their products.

        It says so right on RMI's website. Well ... they changed it recently (I wonder why), but their old website was clear about it (bold mine):

        RMI Energy & Resources Team Consulting Services

        For more than two decades, Rocky Mountain Institute has been recognized as one of the world's foremost authorities on energy use, supply, policy, and regulation. Its staff includes preeminent experts on energy-efficient techniques and technologies, energy industry structure, resource planning, technology commercialization, and competitive strategy for companies in the electric power, natural gas, and other regulated industries.

        It's from their own mouth. Lovins has even bragged in the past about being in the profitable business of consulting for oil and gas companies.

        Every one of Lovins's solutions involves increased use of natural gas. He claims that it is a "bridge," but he never explains exactly when we ever get across this bridge. If I were in the natural gas business, I would love Lovins.

        It's funny how T. Boone Pickens takes so much heat for proposing essentially the same solution that Lovins does. I guess Pickens doesn't have Lovins "mystique."

        1. If he is a con man/fraud then he is succesfully conning Wal-Mart, DoD, governments etc. and apparently the con includes significant reduction of their energy bills.

        I never said that he was a bad con man. On the contrary, he's quite good at the scam he pulls. He charges these companies a premium for the service of "greenwashing" them with the RMI brand, while providing simple advice that any efficiency expert could provide.

        A company doesn't have to hire RMI to reduce their energy bills. There are plenty of other professionals out there who could do the job.

        Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.
        -- George Eliot

        by bryfry on Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 08:42:48 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  rethinking energy (0+ / 0-)

    Here's a video of Amory Lovins describing the physics of automobile transportation.  Every American can easily understand what he is saying here, and should.  I believe he is a good choice precisely because he communicates so clearly the essential facts in what could easily become incomprehensible to the public.

    We know that the bad guys will be doing everything to obfuscate in ways that protect their vested interests.  Lucidity pulls the sword from the stone.  Amory gets my vote.

    The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein -- best book ever, I nominate for a Nobel Prize!

    by xaxado on Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 07:55:38 AM PST

  •  Definately! Time for a grassroots campaign (0+ / 0-)

    Lovins and the Rocky Mountain Institute needs to be on the radar.

    And while we're at it, let's get corporate adviser Stewart Brand of the Global Business Network on the radar too.

  •  we need FAST action and lovins may (0+ / 0-)

    know how to get the best results the quickest

    ignoring the talk radio monopoly continues to be the biggest political blunder in decades

    by certainot on Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 08:26:40 AM PST

  •  Bullshit! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bryfry

    Lovins is one step away from the next Nader. Forget it!

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight. Jettison Joe Lieberman!

    by JeffW on Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 08:42:58 AM PST

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