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ASU helps shape debate on energy and competitiveness


October 07, 2009

Jim Buizer, special adviser to ASU President Michael Crow, once had a brief encounter with Vice President Joe Biden. It came at a dinner, where Biden was speaking on U.S. competitiveness, a topic Buizer knew well because he was deeply involved in the recommendations for the future of U.S. competitiveness through his work with the Council on Competitiveness.

At the end of the speech, Biden and Buizer’s paths crossed and for a few moments they exchanged pleasantries, in which Buizer invited the vice president to Tempe for a campus visit.

“I fully intend to follow up and send a formal invitation,” Buizer says.

The fact that ASU was at the table helping to chart a course for the U.S. in terms of competitiveness and sustainability speaks to how far the university has come. The important work was not rubbing elbows, but in hashing out details of a report of the Council on Competitiveness, which was presented at the National Energy Summit and International Dialogue, Sept. 23 and 24, in Washington, D.C.

The Council on Competitiveness is a non-partisan and non-governmental organization of CEOs, university presidents and labor leaders working to ensure U.S. prosperity.

The summit – which Buizer, President Crow and Assistant Vice President for Policy Affairs Stuart Hadley attended – included the participation of several luminaries, including Energy Secretary Stephen Chu, Presidential Science Advisor John Holdren, and U. S. Sens. Mark Warner (R-Va.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

“ASU’s leadership in sustainability is evident by our engagement in national policy discussions like this one with the Council on Competitiveness,” says President Crow, who served on the CEO-level Steering Committee for the Council’s Energy Security, Innovation & Sustainability Initiative.

A major portion of the summit was to deliver the Council on Competitiveness’s report, “Drive. Private Sector Demand for Sustainable Energy Solutions.”

The report details what needs to be done to build the U.S. economy, but to do so in a manner that is sensitive to the environment and to make the economic recovery more sustainable. A copy of the report will be given to President Obama as a pathway for energy and sustainability policy. To see the report, go to: www.compete.org/.

“The Council on Competitiveness believes there is tremendous economic opportunity inherent in the shift to a low-carbon economy, but only if our nation takes immediate steps to create the right price signals to encourage business and consumers to pursue cleaner and more efficient energy practices, products and technologies,” says Susan Rochford, vice president of energy and sustainability initiatives at the Council on Competitiveness.

“This was a serious, high-level engagement of corporate CEOs, university presidents and civic leaders talking about what is needed to compete in energy and sustainability,” Buizer says. “It created the link between three key constituents – leaders in education, industry and government policy.”

For Buizer, the summit and the dinner were the culmination of two years of work that helped elevate ASU as a key player in the dialogue on our country’s future.