Small Town Takes on Mining Giant

The governing council of Blaine Township, Pennsylvania, decided that they will not allow coal mining giant, Consol Energy, to come in and destroy the township’s farms and streams by doing underground longwall mining, a technique now banned in Germany, where it was invented.

The tool they’re using to fight Consol Energy is something called “democracy.” They have the quaint idea that they can prohibit a mining technology that would destroy their town. But — as the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v FEC illustrates — there are very few government entities of any kind left in our country that have the power to stand up successfully to large corporations.

Indeed, Blaine (represented by CELDF) has now been sued by Consol, and the case is working its way through the courts.

Rural, small-town America is the frontline battleground for the most important political struggle now taking place in our country, the struggle for local-control, local democracy. This is where the promise of the Founders will survive or perish once and for all. This is the common ground where liberals and conservatives can all meet and join hands.

Does this sound extreme?

Watch this 10-minute movie (below) by Jeremy Kagan (director of The Big Fix and Natty Gann, among other successful films) and decide for yourself.

This movie was shown at the Wild and Scenic Film Festival Workshop, “The Revolution for Local Control.”

Countdown to Library Decision Day: Public or Private Hands?

by Friends of the Truckee Library

The Current Situation:

In early February 2010, Nevada County will make a decision about the future of our library. A short time ago, the County established three committees to recommend the best management model for Nevada County libraries in the current fiscal downturn:

  • Citizens’ Oversight Committee (COC)
  • Ad Hoc Committee
  • County Administration Committee
  • After considering multiple budget options, the County presented the COC with three options for review on January 13:

  • Option A – A County management model based on a Truckee Friends of the Library proposal.
  • Option B – A County management model that closes two library branches.
  • Option C – A contractor operated model submitted by LSSI, a private for-profit corporation based in  Maryland.
  • The COC unanimously recommended Option A which:

  • Keeps the library in public hands.
  • Keeps all of the County library branches open with high service levels.
  • Maintains the professional quality of library staffing and programming.
  • Keeps the library system operating with a positive fund balance for the next 5 years.
  • Maintains full accountability and transparency to the public – something a private corporation is not required to do.
  • When the second committee, the Ad Hoc, met on January 20, County Administrators had added a fourth Option D, which keeps the libraries under public control, but cuts programs and staff – specifically Children’s Librarians — in order to keep more money in a reserve account.

    The Ad-Hoc committee voted for keeping the Library under County management, and against any private outsourcing.

    They were split between Options A and D. The major difference between the two is this: Option A keeps all professional staff while maintaining a positive fund balance; Option D cuts professional librarians by more than half – including all children’s librarians. Cutting children’s librarians goes against the language of Measure C (overwhelmingly approved by voters) which expressly states that the tax revenues will be used for ” Increased Children’s and Young Adults’ Programs.”

    Option A, which the Friends developed with County staff, has been endorsed by both the Eastern and Western County Friends of the Library. Nevada County citizens have clearly expressed their opposition to outsourcing and their strong support for keeping all library branches open and run by professional staff.

    What You Can Do:

    • Support Option A – the option proposed by the Truckee Friends of the Library. It keeps the library and your tax money in public hands; maintains the quality and   professionalism of the libraries and keeps the library operating with a positive fund balance for the next five years.  In addition, Option A preserves our children’s librarians and our high caliber children’s programming.
    • Call or email the five County Supervisors (listed below), including Ted Owens, our local Supervisor.  Urge them to support keeping our libraries public with the Option A budget model that maintains the levels of staff and services.

      Nate Beeson (District 1) Email Phone: 530-265-1480

      Ed Scofield (District 2) Email Phone: 530-265-1480

      John Spencer (District 3) Email Phone: 530-265-1480

      Hank Weston (District 4) Email Phone: 530-265-1480

      Ted Owens (District 5) Email Phone: 530-265-1480

    • Send this information to your friends and associates. Urge them to support Option A. Your tax money and our beloved community library are at stake.

    Thank you!

    Truckee Friends of the Library

    Whose Rights?

    Published on Friday, January 22, 2010 by YES! Magazine

    A new Supreme Court decision promotes corporate rights at the expense of the rights of citizens. What happens when the legal structure itself stands in the way of democracy?

    by Thomas Linzey, Mari Margil

    Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission—giving corporations the ability to spend money directly to influence federal elections under the Constitution’s First Amendment—was inevitable. It represents a logical expansion of corporate constitutional “rights”—which include the rights of persons which have been judicially conferred upon corporations. “Personhood” rights mean that corporations possess First Amendment rights to free speech, along with a litany of other rights that are secured to persons under the federal Bill of Rights.

    The expansion of corporate rights and privileges under the law has been deliberate, beginning nearly two hundred years ago with the Dartmouth decision in which the Supreme Court ruled that private corporations had rights that municipal corporations—governments composed of “we the people”—did not.

    For the past two centuries, new court decisions have only expanded corporate rights and privileges.  For those who think that the way to stem this tide is to find the perfect lawsuit, stop looking. It doesn’t exist, for there is no magic bullet.

    Rather, in order to reverse decisions like Citizens Unitedthe whole concept of corporate “rights”—and the way they interfere with the exercise of rights by people, communities, and nature—must be examined. And, it’s not simply that corporations have “personhood” rights. It goes well beyond that.

    Today’s structure of law gives corporations a spectrum of legal and constitutional rights which they routinely wield against people, communities, and nature. Corporations have more rights, for example, than the communities in which they seek to do business. They can and do use those rights to lobby Congress, impact elections, and to decide for us what we eat, whether mountaintops are blown off or not, whether there are fish in the oceans, and on and on. Their constitutional and other legal rights, together with their wealth, guarantee that they can define the debates that lead to the adoption of new laws—and often write the laws themselves.

    Thus the context for understanding today’s decision is that we have a minority set of corporate interests, empowered by government to wield their rights against a majority. It is the history of this nation. The abolitionists, the suffragists, and the civil rights movement all built movements of people in order to drive rights (for slaves, for women, for African Americans) into law—which necessarily meant eliminating rights for a minority, such as the slaveholder. In the end, it is our constitutional structure of law that purposefully places the rights of property and commerce over the rights of people, communities, and nature. History shows that strong peoples’ movements can make change by changing the legal structure itself.

    In some ways, the Citizens United ruling is merely part of a predetermined destiny set by a 1700s constitutional structure that placed greater priority on the rights of property and commerce than on the rights of people and nature. Reversing Citizens United means reversing that constitutional legacy.

    Today, to those who recognize that we do not have democracy when corporations located thousands of miles away are making decisions about our communities instead of us, who recognize that we cannot have sustainability so long as corporations are able to decide how clean our air and water can be, who recognize that we’ll never have truehealth care reform so long as corporations have greater access to our elected representatives than the people who voted for them—to those people, today’s decision should be understood as just another brick in the wall, another step down a path that will only continue unless and until a real movement for the rights of people, communities, and nature is built. That is the work we are doing. We hope you will join us.

    This article is licensed under a Creative Commons License

    Thomas Linzey and Mari Margil wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. Thomas is executive director, cofounder, and chief legal counsel and Mari is associate director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), a public interest law firm that has worked with municipalities to question whether corporate “rights” can coexist with the democratic rights of communities to local self-government. Through the adoption of local, binding laws, these communities are pioneering a new structure of law which does not recognize the rights and privileges of corporations.

    Interested?
    Spokane Considers Community Bill of Rights :: Thousands of people voted to protect nine basic rights, ranging from the right of the environment to exist and flourish to the rights of residents to have a locally based economy and to determine the future of their neighborhoods.


    Corporate Personhood Must Be Challenged

    by Jane Anne Morris

    (Editor’s note: The author wrote this article late in 2009 in anticipation of exactly the decision handed down yesterday by the Supreme Court in the case of Citizens United v FEC, a decision that some are calling the “mirror-image” of the Dred Scott decision of 1857. She has written extensively about the Supreme Court in her most recent book, “Gaveling Down the Rabble,” and is currently working on a new article about it that, she tells me, is an “indirect criticism of this case, but not a direct analysis.”)

    When the “Hillary Clinton film” case is decided, headlines should declare, “Supreme Court affirms corporate personhood.” Instead, most media will call it a free speech decision. “First Amendment rights” will play the Trojan horse hauling corporate freight.

    By first putting human beings and corporations into one basket labeled “things that have constitutional rights,” and then arguing about what “free speech” means, the Supreme Court has pitted the likes of the American Civil Liberties Union against advocates of campaign finance reform.

    In one corner, arguing against limits on “speech,” we find Citizens United Inc. (the right-wing, nonprofit corporation that produced the Hillary film), supported by the ACLU. In the opposite corner, arguing FOR limits on “speech,” the Federal Election Commission and an assortment of groups supporting campaign finance laws.

    Must we limit speech in order to have free and fair elections? Or must we accept corporation-dominated political debate in order to preserve free speech?

    This false dilemma disappears if we reject corporate personhood – the idea that corporations have constitutional rights. Limiting corporate “speech” is not a constitutional infringement if corporations are not “persons” under the Constitution.

    Corporate personhood encourages people to forget that every corporation is literally created by legislatures. Corporations of all kinds receive grants of power and privilege from the state; that’s why they incorporate. In the Citizens United Inc. case, the Clements amicus brief (on the FEC side) asks, “If the people’s elected representatives create legal structures for economic, charitable or other purposes, are they barred from preventing misuse of those structures for non-permitted purposes, such as political activity?”

    Admitting the legal fiction of the corporation into the “rights” club has further consequences. With human beings and corporations joined at the hip in the body of constitutional law, the fruit of each people’s victory in strengthening or claiming a constitutional right is plucked up by corporate lawyers and used to defend corporations against the governments that created them.

    That has been happening since the late 19th century, when the Supreme Court awarded the granddaddy of all corporate constitutional rights (equal protection and due process under the 14th Amendment) to railroad corporations.

    In a famous Supreme Court dissent (1938), Justice Hugo Black ridiculed the justices’ grant of corporate personhood, and recounted the real function of the 14th Amendment during the first half-century after its adoption. Hint: It had little to do with protecting the rights of African-Americans, women or Native Americans.

    Among Supreme Court cases about the 1868 amendment, Black wrote, “Less than one-half of 1 percent invoked it in protection of the Negro race, and more than 50 percent asked that its benefits be extended to corporations.” With corporations on the personhood wagon, rights that we think are protecting human beings are instead protecting corporations against the government.

    In the current case, the biggest hope for some and fear for others is that the court will overrule Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, a 1990 case that preserved a scrap of state power to regulate corporate “political speech.” The widely touted “victory” was that the Supreme Court allowed Michigan to prohibit one kind of nonprofit corporation from using its monies for certain kinds of political speech.

    Meanwhile, the Austin case accepts that money equals speech (following the Supreme Court’s 1976 Valeo decision), that corporations can spend treasury funds on initiatives and referendums, and that political action committees are legal and constitutional. But there’s more. Austin affirms that corporations are “persons” with constitutional rights, and that they have First Amendment rights, and equal protection rights.

    Despite the hype and flutter around it, Citizens United Inc. v. FEC is not the big showdown about campaign finance reform. Whether the Supreme Court upholds the FEC and the Michigan law, or favors Citizens United Inc. and overrules Austin, corporate personhood will have won again.

    Just as the single-payer option has been suppressed in the national health care debate, corporate personhood is all but ignored in discussions of campaign finance reform. Perhaps if “corporate personhood” made it into more headlines, we could shoo it out of the Trojan horse where it has obfuscated free speech and equal rights issues for too long.

    Corporate anthropologist and Madison, Wisconsin resident Jane Anne Morris’ recent book, Gaveling Down the Rabble: How ‘Free Trade’ Is Stealing Our Democracy” (Apex Press, 2008) is cited in an amicus brief filed in support of the Federal Election Commission in this case.

    Library Ad Hoc Committee Endorses Non-LSSI Options

    The Library Ad Hoc Committee met yesterday morning in the Empire Room of the Rood Center, and after almost two hours of deliberation voted to endorse two of the public options, finding that either would be a viable solution to the library’s financial problem. The two options are numbers 1 (aka “A”) and 4 (aka “D”) as described in this memo from Mary Ross, Chief Fiscal and Administrative Officer in the county IGS department.

    Here’s a summary of option A, excerpted from the memo:

    Option A has been developed to address the objectives of the Truckee Friends’ proposal. It retains a high level of professional staffing as compared to the Scenario #2 presented earlier, and keeps the Penn Valley and Bear River stations open. Some highlights of this option are:

    a. The Helling and Truckee Libraries are open 37 hours per week, and the Grass Valley Library is open 35 hours. Operating hours at Penn Valley (20 hours) and Bear River (14) remain as currently scheduled.

    b. In order to maintain this level of service, one Librarian position is eliminated, and the other Librarian positions are reduced to 30 or 35 hours per week, except for the two Children’s Librarians, which are reduced to 20 hours per week.

    c. Literacy Program staff are retained at a level that corresponds with the restricted funding expected to be available for that program.

    Here’s a description of option D, excerpted from the memo:

    NOTE: Option D was not presented to the Citizens Oversight Committee at their January 13 meeting. It has been developed by staff in order to present a County-run option that more closely approaches the level of budget impact represented by the LSSI contracting option (C). Highlights of Option D are:

    a. The Helling and Truckee Libraries are open 37 hours per week and the Grass Valley Library is open 35 hours per week. The Penn Valley and Bear River stations remain open, with hours at the Penn Valley station reduced to 16 per week.

    b. Librarian positions are reduced to a level where there is one Librarian per branch, including the County Librarian, who would directly manage the Helling Branch.

    c. Literacy Program staff are retained at a level that corresponds with the restricted funding expected to be available for that program.

    Committee members present were Reinette Senum, Lisa Swarthout, Jim Meshwart, Mike McDaniel and — by video — Richard Anderson of Truckee.

    There appeared to be least a dozen members of the general public — including Madelyn Helling —  in attendance in the Empire Room, and an additional number at the Truckee side.

    After a brief review by county staff of the options under consideration, five members of the public spoke.

    Joann O’Brien of the Truckee Friends of the Library spoke in support of option  A, which her group was largely instrumental in creating.

    Peter Van Zant also spoke in support of option A, pointing out that it keeps staff and stays in budget. He also reminded the committee that  a consensus “is not required by the Board of Supervisors.”

    Pam McAdoo of Truckee was concerned that with the staff’s late addition of option D, the “ground rules had shifted.”

    Deb Abbadie, also supporting option A, made a special plea to preserve all elements of the childrens’ program. She likewise expressed concern that the process had been “skewed” by the introduction of option D.

    Frank Bloksberg spoke about the legal problem the county is likely to encounter if it enters into a contract with LSSI.

    Several committee members — particularly Reinette Senum — expressed concerns about the risks of contracting with LSSI, especially as we enter even more unpredictable economic times. She said that the “economic tsunami has not even hit us yet.” “With LSSI,” she said, “we give up more than we get.”

    There was a general feeling that keeping “direct county oversight” is a less risky course of action.

    Richard Anderson in Truckee spoke about how keeping county control gives us more “operational flexibility.” LSSI has given us “too few details,” he said.

    The committee recommended option A and D, with the proviso that staffing levels should in either case be left to the the county librarian.

    Local Pro-LSSI Website: No There … There!

    I ran across this seemingly local pro-LSSI website this morning:

    There’s apparently no actual person who’s willing to be publicly associated with this pro-outsourcing website, despite the fact that many persons in our community have been willing to put themselves out there publicly in opposition to outsourcing. (See my posting on Deb Abbadie this morning).

    The “Who We Are” subpage on this savenevadacountylibraries.info website includes the following comment [emphasis mine]:

    Citizens Coalition to Save Nevada County Public Libraries is an ad-hoc committee of business owners, community leaders, educators, labor leaders and parents who are concerned about our library system and preserving the highest standards of professional public service. We believe that a spirited dialogue should occur within our community concerning the Nevada County Library System void of false accusations, distortions of facts, special interest agendas, and complete disregard for civility in the public arena.

    Despite the reproach about false accusations in that statement, there is also this comment elsewhere on the site [emphasis again mine]:

    This letter to the editor appeared in The Union on December 22, 2009 in response to Jill Sonnenberg’s letter from December 2nd. Thank you to Carole Gibson for highlighting the self-centered nature at the root of the anti-outsourcing crowd.

    And yet the letter to The Union that follows, written by Carole Gibson of Nevada City and published on December 23rd, contains no credible assertion about the generally “self-centered nature at the root of the anti-outsourcing crowd.”

    That in itself is a truly a bizarre (and false!) accusation. The opposition to outsourcing appears to be widespread in our community, and if it can be “faulted” for anything, it would probably be for an abundance of idealism, rather than self-centredness!

    Accusing your philosophical opponent (who’s also in a real sense your neighbor) of bad faith is not what I’d call the practice of civility.

    There’s nothing wrong with a local group in support of outsourcing, and nothing surprising about it either.

    But why do they feel it’s necessary to hide?

    Beyond the question of who created it, the most noteworthy thing about this “info” website is that there is very little actual info in it.

    The “News Clips” subpage contains a total of four clippings, two from out-of-state.

    The “Setting the Record Straight” subpage reads like an LSSI promotional flyer.

    Check it out here. See for yourself if there’s any there … there.

    Deb Abbadie Speaks Out on Library Outsourcing

    I’ve seen former county reference librarian Deb Abbadie everywhere on the library issue: speaking to the Board of Supervisors last fall, quoted in Union articles, speaking to the 7:30 AM rally at the Rood Center in December, and this morning with an “Other Voices” column in The Union.

    She’s one of the most knowledgeable people out there fighting to preserve the quality and the public nature of our library system.

    Here’s an excerpt from her column this morning:

    Is there really a crisis that warrants changing management of the library, or can the proposals put forth by the county librarian resolve this problem. Also, the library system is not broke, it still has the same resources available, with a temporary reduction in revenue.

    Further, our library does not fit the profile of library systems that have chosen to contract with LSSI. LSSI has a monopoly in the area of public library management, and yet they currently hold contracts with only 13 public library systems out of the 9,214 in the United States. Most government entities do not recommend entering into a contract when there is no competition.

    LSSI, as a for-profit business, will have different philosophical, economic and political perspectives. What might be the impacts and influences on the management of our public library?

    Let’s not weaken the underpinnings of the Nevada County Library. As a public library, it should remain a public institution, accountable to the community it serves.

    New Option for Library Ad Hoc Committee to Consider

    The Library Ad Hoc Committee — in its 8 AM meeting tomorrow — will be asked by county staff to consider an option not presented to the Citizens’ Oversight Committee when it met on January 13th.

    This option — yet another public, non-LSSI option — did not exist on the 13th, but was introduced in a staff memo written on the 15th, and is referred to as “Option D” in the following copy of the staff memo.

    Some participants in the process are concerned about whether this late introduction of a new option, after the COC has finalized its recommendation, has created an imbalance in the process.

    I’m not sure how to feel about this. It might make sense to allow the COC time to reconsider its recommendation in light of this additional option.

    Tomorrow’s meeting should be interesting.

    Another Environmental Film Festival

    This small article caught my eye today: “Environmental Films Beyond Polar Bears.” It’s from the January 17th issue of The Chronicle Review, a publication of The Chronicle of Higher Education. The article describes the Tales From Planet Earth Film Festival at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, which took place in November.

    Excerpt from the article:

    Some 50 films shown over three days featured the work of professional filmmakers, as well as that of students enrolled in a course in environmental filmmaking.

    “We took students with no experience, who were doing work in environmental science, journalism, and humanities, and in two months taught them how to create effective stories in film,” says Gregg Mitman, the festival’s curator and interim director of the Nelson Institute.

    Mitman, who is also a historian of science at Madison, became interested in environmental films while writing Reel Nature: America’s Romance With Wildlife on Film (Harvard University Press, 1999). The festival defines environmental issues broadly, to include where people live, work, and play, he says. “We’re not just talking about polar bears as an endangered species, but things right here in our neighborhood, such as food equity and access, and issues of public health.”

    The Festival website has an assortment of trailers. Here’s a little two-minute trailer that tells a sweet, wild love-story about two red-tailed hawks:

    Getting Them Home from Nelson Institute @ UW-Madison on Vimeo.

    Financing Our Cleantech Future

    by Joel Makower

    My longtime friend and colleague Bill Green changed jobs recently. That’s not normally newsworthy — friends and colleagues do that all the time. But if you’re concerned about the future of clean technology — in particular, how we’re going to fund the massive scale-up of renewable energy, clean water, and other infrastructural changes needed to build a clean economy — Green’s career move warrants more than just passing interest.

    Green is a seasoned environmental entrepreneur, with more than 20 years of management and investment experience. He has led five companies, including Ecolink, one of the first firms to produce alternatives to ozone layer-depleting chemicals, and the Strategic Chemical Management Group, an environmental management company. For seven years, he was in venture capital, a co-founder of VantagePoint Venture Partners’ CleanTech practice, among the largest cleantech VCs, with more than $1 billion dedicated to the sector. (In 2003, Green invited me to join VantagePoint’s Cleantech Advisory Council, where I still serve.)

    Last week, Green announced that he was joining Macquarie Capital Funds as a senior managing director. If you’re like me, you probably didn’t know much about this company, part of The Macquarie Group, a massive Australia-based global investor and manager of infrastructure, real estate, and other businesses. The Funds division manages more than US$116 billion in assets around the world, much of it large infrastructure projects.

    Why is this particular job change worth singling out? Green’s evolution from environmental entrepreneur to venture capitalist to a senior director of one of the world’s foremost investment banks mirrors the trajectory of the cleantech movement itself. What began in the 1980s and 1990s with a handful of scientists, engineers, and idealistic entrepreneurs, funded by a small circle of friends, came to life during the 2000s with the infusion of tens of billions in venture capital, private equity, and corporate and government investments. That gave rise to the thousands of growing companies that today are manufacturing everything from solar cells to electric cars — and all of the batteries, fuels, engines, controllers, software, and other components that make these things work.

    Now, as a new decade begins, it’s time to take things to the next level: ramping up proven technologies at massive scale.

    That’s where Green and Macquarie come in. They are at the leading edge of large investment banks that have the financial firepower to unleash mature technologies globally, financing the wind farms, solar fields, and energy storage facilities that will be needed to bring renewables to scale.

    Bill Green describes this evolution in terms of a “corporate lifecycle.”

    “At a highest level you’ve got an entrepreneur who comes up with an idea that is transformative in its promise and can attract venture capital,” Green explained recently. “The entrepreneur builds a team and develops a product and gets to a place where they are pre-commercial, so they have a product that works by whatever definition the category requires, and they’ve built one of them. They then face the challenge of building their first commercial deployment. Once there is an example of a fully commercial deployment, they can think about replicating at commercial scale — what in the semiconductor industry is called ‘copy exact’: Build a factory, build another one somewhere else, build a third somewhere else.”

    That first commercial deployment is the most difficult to get funded. Once it’s proven itself — that it can perform reliably and generate a predictable cash flow — it is more or less a matter of “copy exact,” stamping them out from place to place. This is a role for project financing — as distinguished from company financing — and is the realm of investment bankers.

    Deploying even one commercial-scale plant can require more capital than most people imagine. Consider BrightSource Energy, which builds and operates large-scale solar thermal plants, in which massive arrays of mirrors beam sunlight to a central tower, boiling water to create steam to run a generator. BrightSource (which happens to be funded by VantagePoint, along with Morgan Stanley, BP, Chevron, Google, and others) has contracts to build several of these plants, at $2 billion to $3 billion a pop. And then there are wind farms. Building one will set you back anywhere from $150 million to $1 billion or more. So, too, a biofuels refinery. Real money, as they say.

    Big as those price tags are, cleantech projects are relatively small compared to other infrastructure projects — airports, bridges, toll roads, and the like — making them less appealing to large banks that prefer large projects. Moreover, a lot of investment bankers haven’t yet developed expertise in renewables. “Renewables is still a sector that is largely the province of a small group of people who have devoted many years to understanding the sector, who have grown up in the sector in various ways,” says Green. “And the sector has yet to fully mature to the point where every institution has developed the capabilities to invest in it. So, many bankers have taken a view that says, ‘If this is not my specialty, I would rather back the larger transaction.’ That leaves a tremendous opportunity for those of us who both understand and elect to focus on this subsector.”

    Green and Macquarie view the cleantech sector as ripe for their style of banking. “There’s still a gap between Silicon Valley and Wall Street when it comes to understanding the complete capital-formation value chain from venture capital through to equity and debt,” says Green. Put another way, the VCs and the bankers haven’t yet become a well-oiled machine in handing off venture-funded companies to those who can take their technologies and products to scale — the way, say, a new microprocessor chip can go from R&D to commercial development, with manufacturing plants deployed around the world in relatively short order.

    As he sets now out to find and fund proven commercial technologies, Green says he will focus on wind farms, utility-scale solar, utility-scale solar thermal, and geothermal energy. Beyond that, he says, “I’m interested in finding the opportunities that are a bit less obvious but that come in the form of more traditional infrastructure.” Transmission, for example. “We believe that there may be opportunities for Macquarie in the emerging conversation around how renewable energy is moved from point of generation to point of use. This has been a real puzzle piece that’s starting to get more attention, but I think it’s still underserved from the standpoint of capital development.” Wastewater purification and landfill waste-to-energy technologies are two more interesting infrastructure opportunities, he says.

    Of course, it’s not just the financial opportunity that interests Green as he starts this next phase of his career. “I am so excited to be able to point to steel in the ground and tell my son that our company participated in bringing that wind farm or that solar field into existence. I deeply enjoyed the years that I spent in conceptual conversation around bringing to life things that were only the dream of an entrepreneur at the time I first saw them. Now, I’m ready to see these things deployed at scale all over the place, and this is the absolute best platform that I could imagine to make that happen.”

    It will be interesting to watch. As the financial heft of national governments hit their limits, we’ll need the big financial machines — which funded the Internet, cellular networks, highways, bridges, water systems, and mass transit systems — to make clean technology part of the global fabric. Macquarie isn’t the first investment bank to jump into cleantech, but it has made clear that it wants to be at the front of the pack.

    As if to underscore his excitement for his new role, Green leaves me with a few parting words not typically associated with the dry world of large-scale finance: “It’s really cool,” he says. “Really cool.”

    Joel Makower is Executive Editor of GreenBiz.com and chairman of Greener World Media, Inc.

    This article originally ran on GreenBiz.com. Reprinted with permission.

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