So, I'll skip telling you about these speeches in detail and just list a few of the more interesting bits from this morning's official opening. We'll get into the meaty topics later, during the breakout sessions.
Will Kleindienst, the conference chairman, started off by saying that the real crux of the current alternative fuels challenges is no longer finding information, but sifting through an overwhelming amount of information.
Annalloyd Thompson, AFVI's executive director, said the conference attendees have their own "axis of evil": dwindling oil supplies, growing climate instability and an economic engine that "sputters without growth" to contend with. Hear this clip here (MP3). The mayors of Anaheim and Santa Ana also greeted conference attendees. Santa Ana mayor Miguel Pulido spoke highly of his EnergyCS plug-in Prius. GM's John Gaydash, director of marketing for General Motors Fleet & Commercial Operations, said that America was not built on reducing anything, but on increasing things (like ethanol use). You can listen to this clip here (MP3).
Speaking next, Neel Kashkari, senior advisor to the U.S. Department of Treasury, explained how energy and the economy are intertwined in the minds are people at the Treasury Department. I've included most of his presentation because I think a lot of our readers will dig it. Kashkari brought a lot of PowerPoint slides with him, and you can click through the gallery below in one tab/window and watch while you listen his talk here (MP3). The short version of his talk: we just might be in trouble.
Pete McCloskey was the best of the bunch. He served in the U.S. military and as a Republican in the U.S. Congress and gave the most animated talk of the morning. He gave warnings about our energy future, and told stories about how he helped get Earth Day started and the power of the environment in politics in the '70s and today. You can listen to a portion of his talk here (MP3). Key quote: "I like Honda's attitude more than GM's at the moment." And how ballsy is he to end his talk with a note about the following speaker, ex-CIA head James Woolsley, with a line about CIA assassinations?
Woolsey, now vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton, started with the same joke he did in Santa Monica at the Alt Car Expo (about being the "best-behaved prisoner" on a flight a few years back) and talked about a lot of the same things he said then – about Al Qaeda attacking Saudi oil productions facilities. I'll let you refresh your memory on his talk here.
Kleindienst then sat down with T. Boone Pickens (on two green upholstered chairs on the stage), who started by talking about Dick Cheney's hunting prowess (Pickens, seriously, says he's a good shot and has been hunting with Cheney in the past). Pickens, like so many others, said the upcoming energy crisis (AKA peak oil) is on his mind and, as someone long associated with BP, he is very aware that 75 percent of all the oil used in the world is used for transportation.
Pickens is a Rudi Giuliani supporter and said he recently told Giuliani that energy will be the key concern for whoever is the next president. Pickens suggested to Giuliani to never tell people, "we're going to be energy independent" because there's no good answer yet to the follow-up question of "How?" But Giuliani made exactly that statement recently, so Pickens said he felt he didn't get anywhere with the candidate. Still, "He's [Giuliani is] our best chance to beat Hillary," Pickens said. "But whoever our [Republican] nominee is, I'll be there."
Responding to a question from Kleindeinst on what he would do if, say, he ever became Energy Secretary, Pickens said he'd raise gas prices through higher taxes (to $4 or $5 a gallon) and use that money to pay for alternative energy research. He said he specifically doesn't like Hillary Clinton's idea of taxing the oil companies.
And with that, the 2007 AFVI show officially kicked off.
(Note: Back in December at the Alt Car Expo, we were able to bring you recordings of certain discussions in their entirety. The reason a complete recording of the opening session is not available is because AFVI has asked AutoblogGreen not to make full sessions from this conference available. It does cost money to attend, after all. Selected clips are OK, and that's what we'll bring you over the next few days. Enjoy.)