The President Needs a Plan: Sustainable Growth Specialist Dr. Robert Freilich Outlines a Real U.S. Energy Policy

By Belli, Brita | E Magazine, September-October 2008 | Go to article overview
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The President Needs a Plan: Sustainable Growth Specialist Dr. Robert Freilich Outlines a Real U.S. Energy Policy


Belli, Brita, E Magazine


Trial lawyer Dr. Robert Freilich, who has tried over 160 cases and argued several before the Supreme Court, is focused on land-how to best use it, sustain it and maximize its resources--and has developed land-use planning systems for more than 250 cities, counties and states, from San Diego to Boston. His 1999 book From Sprawl to Smart Growth (American Bar Association) is being re-released this year as From Sprawl to Sustainable Growth, and it is a study of moving from energy-wasting outskirt housing developments to renewable energy systems and efficient urban livework environments. What's all this got to do with the election? Freilich proposes a new model for the incoming president--beginning with a real national energy policy.

E Magazine: What is the federal government's role in setting a new energy course?

Robert Freilich: We're probably one of the only technologically advanced countries in the world that doesn't have a national energy policy. The first thing we need from the federal government is a cohesive, rational, integrated policy. The government really needs to say "we're going to concentrate our resources into this," and that's going to build millions of jobs in infrastructure and in these new technologies. Right now, the world can produce $6 trillion a year in energy. That's about 10% of the world's economic output, but it's going to double by 2050 to $12 trillion a year. Compare that to the Internet. Information technology is in the mere millions.

E: How important are the renewable energy tax credits that are set to expire this December?

RF: Wind energy is our most important source of energy. So people are calling for the government to understand that if they put a tax on the consumption of oil and gas and coal and use that for the subsidies of renewable energy, the growth is going to be astonishing. We need to have a valuable, intelligent tax credit mechanism from the federal government. We need to understand what infrastructure needs to be improved for wind energy, which is probably going to result in about 30% of all energy in the United States by 2030. We need to switch to better grids, like the DC grids that Europe has, because the AC grids can't carry electricity for long distances. We basically need to take advantage of deserts and these huge open areas with wind resources. We probably have the best wind resources in the world.

E: Do you think with a new president, we'll see major renewable energy legislation passed?

RF: I believe no matter which president is elected, that it'll be better than what we have.

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