March 1, 2011 - John A. "Skip" Laitner: Economic and Social Analysis Program Director, ACEEE
Skip Laitner is the Director of Economic and Social Analysis for ACEEE. He previously served 10 years as a Senior Economist for Technology Policy for the USEPA, but chose to leave the federal service in June 2006 to focus his research on developing a more robust technology and behavioral characterization of energy efficiency resources for use in energy and climate economic policy models. In 1998 Skip was awarded EPA's Gold Medal for his work with a team of EPA economists to evaluate the impact of different strategies that might assist in the implementation of greenhouse gas emissions reduction policies.
In 2003 the US Combined Heat and Power Association gave him an award to acknowledge his contributions to the policy development of that industry. In 2004 his paper, “How Far Energy Efficiency?” catalyzed new research into the proper characterization of efficiency as a long-term resource.
Author of more than 250 reports, journal articles, and book chapters, Skip has 40 years of involvement in the environmental and energy policy arenas. His expertise includes benefit-cost assessments, behavioral assessments, and the macroeconomic impacts of climate and energy policy scenarios. He’s been invited to provide technical seminars in diverse places as Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Korea, South Africa, and Spain. Skip has a master’s degree in Resource Economics from Antioch University.
A Target on Their Backs: ICT and the Economic Imperative of Energy Efficiency
Observers of U.S. energy policy might think of energy efficiency as a useful tool to manage the growth of our nation’s energy consumption. They might also see it as a cost-effective means to ease our transition into a post-carbon world. And yes, the evidence does support both of these notions. But the U.S. economy now wastes 87 percent of the energy it uses, and regulators tend to focus their efforts on waste management, rather than on avoiding waste in the first place. There is an emerging body of evidence which compels a significantly greater attention to the critical role of energy efficiency in maintaining a productive and a more prosperous economy. The Green Grid, and semiconductor and information and communication technologies (ICT) more broadly, will be among the surprising opportunities that can enable higher levels of productivity – should we choose to invest in those resources.
March 2, 2011 - Robert D. Atkinson: President, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation
Robert Atkinson is the founder and president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a Washington, DC-based technology policy think tank. He is also author of the forthcoming book The Global Race for Innovation Advantage, and Why the U.S. is Falling Behind (Yale, 2011), the book, The Past And Future Of America’s Economy: Long Waves Of Innovation That Power Cycles Of Growth (Edward Elgar, 2005), and the State New Economy Index series. He has an extensive background in technology policy, he has conducted ground-breaking research projects on technology and innovation, is a valued adviser to state and national policy makers, and a popular speaker on innovation policy nationally and internationally.
Before coming to ITIF, Dr. Atkinson was Vice President of the Progressive Policy Institute and Director of PPI’s Technology & New Economy Project. While at PPI he wrote numerous research reports on technology and innovation policy, including on issues such as broadband telecommunications, e-commerce and e-government, privacy, copyright, the R&D tax credit, offshoring, and innovation economics. Previously Dr. Atkinson served as the first Executive Director of the Rhode Island Economic Policy Council, a public-private partnership including as members the Governor, legislative leaders, and corporate and labor leaders. As head of RIEPC, he was responsible for drafting a comprehensive economic strategic development plan for the state, developing a ten-point economic development plan, and working to successfully implement all ten proposals through the legislative and administrative branches. Prior to that he was Project Director at the former Congressional Office of Technology Assessment. While at OTA, he directed The Technological Reshaping of Metropolitan America, a seminal report examining the impact of the information technology revolution on America’s urban areas.
He is a board member or advisory council member of the Internet Education Foundation, NetChoice Coalition, and the University of Oregon Institute for Policy Research and Innovation, and the State Science and Technology Institute. He was appointed chair of the Congressionally-created National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission. He also serves on the advisory panel to Americans for Computer Privacy, a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Electronic Government and the Journal of Internet Policy, a member of the Reason Foundation’s Mobility Project Advisory Board, a member of the Global Innovation Forum Brain Trust, and a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. Dr. Atkinson was appointed by President Clinton to the Commission on Workers, Communities, and Economic Change in the New Economy. He was also a member of the Task Force on National Security in the Information Age, co-chaired by Markle Foundation president Zoe Baird and former Netscape Communications chairman James Barksdale. In 1999, he was featured in Who’s Who in America: Finance and Industry. In 2002, he was awarded the Wharton Infosys Business Transformation Award Silver Medal. In addition, Government Technology Magazine and the Center for Digital Government named him one of the 25 top Doers, Dreamers and Drivers of Information Technology. In 2006, Inc. Magazine listed Atkinson as one of 19 Friends of Small Business in Washington. Ars Technica listed Atkinson as one of 2009’s tech policy People to Watch. Dr. Atkinson has testified before a number of committees in Congress and has appeared in various media outlets including CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, NPR, and NBC Nightly News. He received his Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1989, where he was awarded the distinguished Joseph E. Pogue Fellowship.
Policy Makers are Focused on You, Not the Real Problem
Regulators around the world are taking aim at IT in general, and data centers in particular, in their efforts to regulate reduced energy use and carbon emissions. But at the end of the day, we need more IT and innovation, not less. Rob Atkinson will discuss why policy makers should be concentrating on spurring digital transformation – incentivizing conversion of energy intensive atoms to energy savings bits. And why spurring fundamental clean energy R&D, rather than regulating IT efficiency, is the surer path to the needed low carbon global economy.