Business Will Lead on Climate Action

On the final day of March, nearly 50 people from across the greater Sacramento region joined the Cleaner Air Partnership quarterly luncheon to hear about why business will lead on climate action. Given the change in administration at the federal level, a great deal of uncertainty with federal policy exists. As many leaders with expertise in clean economy related fields have pointed out, there’s no stopping the business proposition for clean energy. Climate action is important for the environment, but it’s also important for the economy as well as our health.

Over the past several years, California’s growing economy has demonstrated that environmental stewardship and economic growth can go hand in hand. The state’s climate action policies provide an important market signal to innovative businesses and entrepreneurs, fueling investment in technologies and ventures to support the emerging clean energy economy. Many policies and investments that support climate action deliver important benefits for our region’s air quality and for improving community resilience.

Peter Tateishi, President and CEO of the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce, and a core member of the Cleaner Air Partnership, shared with the group how the strong collaborative spirit in Sacramento sets a unique example for Washington D.C. about how groups with differing perspectives can come together to work toward a common solution. Peter highlighted the need for ensuring our communities and our region’s businesses are resilient to climate impacts. He noted that we are experiencing extremes right now – flooding, catastrophic fires, etc. “We need businesses to be the first to come back online – business resiliency is extremely important,” he said. “We can’t stop natural disaster, but we can minimize the events.”

Chief Strategist for Sierra Energy, Rob White, talked about why his organization supports low-carbon policies and investments in a low-carbon economy. “Emissions from waste handling and landfill are one of the biggest reasons for poor air quality,” Rob noted. Sierra Energy has a solution for this problem with their FastOx gasification technology. After everything is removed from the waste stream that can be reused, recycled or repurposed, the rest can be processed by FastOx. Municipal solid waste (or MSW), medical, biomass, and industrial wastes are heated up to 4000 degrees Fahrenheit. Ninety-percent (90%) of the output is synthetic gas, and the rest transformed into liquid metals or inert stone. The synthetic gas can be used to generate electricity, for transportation fuels, or converted to hydrogen and other useful chemicals. The process results in zero emissions. The liquid metals output by the system can be reused, as can the rock-like product which can be repurposed for use in roads and as other building materials. In partnership with the U.S. Army and others, Sierra Energy is building a commercial-scale demonstration project at US Army Garrison-Fort Hunter Liggett in Monterey County. The site is readying for commissioning in spring 2017 with full operations expected summer 2017.

Thomas Hall, Executive Director with CleanStart in Sacramento, and Kathleen Ave, Climate Program Manager at SMUD and Chair of the Capital Region Climate Readiness Collaborative, were also speakers at the CAP quarterly luncheon on March 31st. Thomas shared how CleanStart is working to support clean tech entrepreneurs in the Sacramento region, and pointed out that clean technology is about helping businesses reduce resource use and costs. These reductions in cost and resource use are not only beneficial for businesses, but also for society as a whole. Kathleen talked about the projected impacts of climate change in our region and the business imperatives for action. As Chair of the Capital Region Climate Readiness Collaborative, Kathleen noted how CRC is working to help businesses prepare for these impacts.

The event was held at the offices of Downey Brand LLP in Sacramento. Managing Partner and Valley Vision board member, Scott Shapiro, welcomed the group and commented in his opening remarks that the collaborative nature of the Cleaner Air Partnership is reflective of the way we operate in Sacramento. Francisco Castillo, Director of Public Affairs for Union Pacific, offered closing remarks, and shared his perspective on why Union Pacific supports and participates in the Cleaner Air Partnership.


Tammy Cronin is a Valley Vision Project Leader working in the clean air, broadband and clean economy portfolios.

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