Jay Inslee Bracken Hendricks

Foreword by President Bill Clinton

ISLANDPRESS / Washington • Covelo • London

Copyright © 2008

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Inslee, Jay.

Apollo's fire : igniting America's clean-energy economy / Jay Inslee, Bracken Hendricks. p. cm.

Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN-13: 978-1-59726-175-3 (hardcover : alk. paper) 1. Energy policy—United States. 2. Renewable energy sources— United States. 3. Global warming. I. Hendricks, Bracken. II. Title. HD9502.U521536 2007 333.790973—dc22


British Cataloguing-in-Publication Data available Printed on recycled, acid-free paper

Manufactured in the United States of America

This book is dedicated to my mom and dad —-Jay Inslee

And to my wife, Alice, and my children, Galen and Clea Rose —Bracken Hendricks


Foreword by President Bill Clinton xi The First Apollo Project xv

Charter 1: a New Apollo Project for Energy 1

Global Warming Comes to the White House—Or Doesn't 23 Ten Energy Enlightenments 27

CHARTER 2: reinventing the CAR 36

Becoming Mahatma 63

Charter 3: Waking Up to the New Solar Dawn 66

When Energy Markets Go Wrong: Surviving Enron 89

CHARTER 4: energy efficiency: The distributed power of Democracy 93

Green-Collar Jobs: From the South Bronx to Oakland 109

CHARTER 5: reenergizing our communities, one project at a Time 113

"We Don't Need Oil" 143

Chapter 6: Homegrown Energy 147

Wind Energy: False Starts on the Road to Success 175 Chapter 7: Sailing in a Sea of Energy 178

A Mind Opened about Mined Coal 193

Chapter b: Can Coal or Nuclear Be Part of the Solution? 195

The Apollo Alliance: New Coalitions for Change 223 Chapter 9: What's It Going to Take? 227

A Tale of Two Presidents 255

Chapter 1 □: An American Energy Policy 258

Placing Our Bets on a New Apollo Project 299

Lessons of the Mimosa Tree 309

Stories from the Field 313

Epilogue: Launching Apollo 331

Acknowledgments 335

Notes 339

Index 3 69


As I sat down and read the preamble to Congressman Jay Inslee and Bracken Hendricks's new book, Apollo's Fire: Igniting America's Clean-Energy Economy, I immediately noticed something. The energy in their words is tangible as they recount President John F. Kennedy's 1961 announcement of his plan, by decade's end, to land an American man on the moon.

Just a sentence or two brought me right back to that day, when I was fifteen. Like the rest of America, I was mesmerized by President Kennedy's ambition and entranced by the novelty and urgency of the Space Race. Our potential was so great that it was nearly impossible to digest, and though times were uncertain, the threat of the Cold War was tempered by the promise and, yes, the energy of the American pioneer spirit, surging ever forward into uncharted territory, always innovating along the way. Our pragmatism and our optimism, our diligence and our sense of duty are the ideals that serve as the nation's cornerstone, beginning with the Puritan "errand into the wilderness" and enduring today, into the new millennium, as we face new and insistent challenges.

If there is just one thing we can glean from days gone by, it is that history is full of themes that repeat themselves, often in the most ironic of ways. Energy—in a variety of ways, ranging from its detrimental effects on the environment to the quest for clean alternative forms, and finally, to its role as the driving force behind innovation—is one of America's recurring themes, and also one of the most pressing.

If the great conflict of the later twentieth century was the Cold War, that of the early twenty-first is, ironically, the battle against warmth— specifically, global warming, its causes and its effects on the planet. In their book, Congressman Inslee and Bracken Hendricks eloquently assess climate change writ large, and the many underlying issues associated with it, as the greatest threat to our nation and our world's security and sustainability. Perhaps most interesting of all, both the root cause of and the solution to the problem boil down to one word: energy.

The studies, the headlines, the television reports, and the films are disturbing. Conventional energy sources, when burned, produce greenhouse gas emissions, thus raising temperatures, melting icecaps, creating severe weather patterns, and otherwise threatening to upset the delicate balance of the planet's equilibrium. Our patterns of consumption and disposable culture of convenience make the problem worse. We're increasingly dependent on foreign oil, which is not only a finite resource, but also one that is concentrated in a region embroiled in conflict and bloodshed. We've developed the technologies for alternative clean-energy sources and production and energy efficiency, but lag in output. Meanwhile, we have an economy with an ever declining manufacturing sector and a growing trade deficit. At face value, the future looks bleak, and to many, even apocalyptic.

Yet, while Inslee and Hendricks discuss the grim reality of what can—and will—happen to our planet if we choose to ignore the problem of climate change, Apollo's Fire is anything but a doomsday account. Rather, it is hopeful and exciting, engaging the reader as it recounts America's history of leadership and ingenuity. Though the climate crisis is daunting, it affords Americans yet another tremendous opportunity to show the rest of the world what we are made of. If we act now, it's not too late.

To anyone who says that Congress does not have a plan for combating climate change, Representative Jay Inslee has not only an answer, but a field guide for our future—and a comprehensive one at that.

Inslee and Hendricks identify the stakes, the goals, and the rewards of a clean-energy revolution. They name the diverse players, the cutting-edge technologies, and the stunning implications for America's economic growth, both domestically and in emerging markets abroad. Implementing new energy technologies will create a huge number of good jobs in America—in venture capital, in research and development, and in manufacturing and other skilled labor—as well as a means to reduce our international trade deficit. The only way we can raise incomes and living standards is to create good jobs for the economy of the future. We can't afford not to, and the beauty of it all is that we have unlimited resources in clean energy and improved efficiency ready for harvest.

Inslee and Hendricks's vision is true to America's competitive spirit, but it is capitalism with conscience. It is innovation for the improvement of humanity. It is science as stewardship. This is our errand into the wilderness, and it is our obligation to our children and to the global community. Apollo's Fire calls us to our destiny. As it was our destiny to land the first man on the moon, it is our destiny now to lead the world toward clean energy and to supply it with the new technologies to achieve that goal. We have a unique opportunity to unite America, urban and rural, coastal and midwestern, red and blue, under the banner of a truly unifying national effort. We can start right now.

President Bill Clinton

The First Apollo Project

We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills. . . .

—President John F. Kennedy

On the evening of May 25, 1961, a man walked into the United States House of Representatives bound to set his country on its longest journey ever. They swarmed about him like bees in a congressional hive as he made his way down the choked center aisle. They all wanted a piece of his glamour, his charm, and his youth. President John F. Kennedy had come to deliver a special address to Congress.

Presidents did not do this very often. An American commander in chief entering the chamber just after the sergeant at arms has announced, "Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States," always sends a thrill through the thousand people gathered for this uniquely American event, but this time it was an electric current several thousand watts more intense than usual. The congressmen and senators pushed toward him like teenyboppers at the Elvis concerts then sweeping the globe.

After years of national malaise, Kennedy had lit up the country with a charm and youthful spirit that brought Camelot to the shores of the Potomac. The country felt an optimism and sense of possibility it had

Xlll not experienced since before World War II and the Great Depression. He embodied the nation's creative energy boiling just below the surface and waiting for a leader to bring it forth.

As the president wound his way toward the speaker's rostrum, he no doubt had put out of his mind his titanic failure just two months before, when he had given the go-ahead for the Bay of Pigs attack on Cuba, then watched as the attack collapsed. What he was about to do would permit no self-doubt.

As he handed copies of his address to Vice President Lyndon Johnson and Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn, he knew he had to give the country a sense of unwavering confidence in the possibilities of a grand journey. That requirement was made all the more urgent by the fact that the country had no idea what he was going to say. He knew it would be a bolt out of the blue.

Ten minutes into his speech, he gave the United States a mission of exploration unequaled since Thomas Jefferson sent the Corps of Discovery, led by Lewis and Clark, across the American continent: "I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth."1

Thus, the Apollo Project began.

Those twenty-nine words changed America, the world of technology, and the moon. Only a few footprints were made on the moon, but they left a huge impression on America. Perhaps no other utterance in human history has resulted in such a stunning scientific advance in such a short period of time by such a large group of people. One can be impressed with other declarations, such as Archimedes's "Eureka!," but he was just one man in a bathtub. Kennedy rallied a whole nation to a singular cause whose completion could only be the product of the synchronized labors of literally millions of people.

At that moment Kennedy's boldness bordered on recklessness. As he stepped across the threshold of the race to the moon, America was in a distant second place to the Soviet Union.Yuri Gagarin had become the first man in space by making several full orbits in April 1961. America could respond only by rushing a small "spam in a can," a one-man shot for fifteen minutes, into the edges of the frontier. The Russian missiles were several times as powerful as NASA's. Kennedy knew the Soviets would soon achieve the feat of putting multiple men in one capsule orbiting the earth. America had not yet even invented Tang.

But Kennedy knew three fundamental things about the American people. First, he knew that Americans were the most prolific tinkerers, builders, and innovators the world had ever seen. The creators of the light bulb, the airplane, and the automobile shared a nationality. This was no accident. Americans are immigrants who have come from every corner of the earth, drawn by democracy and opportunity. We are bound together by a common culture of pragmatism and innovation, driven by determination and ingenuity, a commitment to results, and an innate optimism that we can achieve them, regardless of the odds. Kennedy knew that throwing a technical challenge to Americans is like throwing a dog a bone. Others may have been concerned that our rockets were weak, our life support systems unproven, and the missile engines needed to fire the second stages of the mission untested. But Kennedy knew that if he provided the first stage of the mission, the inspiration, the American people would supply the second stage, the technology.

Second, Kennedy knew that Americans are inherently competitive. George Patton was right: Americans love a winner. Now Kennedy was setting up the grandest race of all time, to the moon. The Russians served as the foil in this competition, pushing Americans to bend every ounce of creative technological force to the purpose of beating them. Kennedy knew that once such a national contest was begun, Americans would run like racehorses, chomping at the bit to get out of the gate.

Third, Kennedy knew that the American people would rally around the cause of national security, as just decades before they had rallied in response to World War II. With Russian satellites flying overhead, and now manned missions circling the globe, America was at risk of Russia dominating space. He did not want the emptiness of space to be filled with Russian weaponry. He knew that a race to the moon would immediately become a proxy for a race for military supremacy in space. Here, in the Sputnik moment, fear was the driver, not hope.

Those three stallions of motivation were put into harness and allowed Kennedy to rouse the nation's interest and innovation. Talk to an aircraft engineer who came of age in the early 1960s, and you will find that he was motivated to go into aeronautics by the blaze of excitement surrounding the moon project. Ask a congressman why he voted to give Kennedy virtually every dollar he requested for the space program, and he will tell you it was self-preservation. America adopted the Mercury 7 astronauts and insisted on seeing them fly.

The pace of invention Kennedy inspired was breathtaking. In 1961 engineers had rudimentary, back-of-the-envelope sketches outlining five different ways to get to the moon, none of them involving rockets

President John F. Kennedy at Cape Canaveral, attending a Saturn briefing by Dr. Wernher Von Braun. (NASA/John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.)

then in America's arsenal. On July 16, 1969, they launched the Saturn V rocket, a three-stage titan only one foot shorter than St. Paul's Cathedral in London, that had been tested only five times. We strapped three fighter pilots to the top of it and lit the candle for the first lunar landing of Apollo 11. In 1961 no human had even approached trying to dock one satellite to another. But just eight years later we docked an American lunar orbiter with a capsule containing the first two humans on the moon. Only fourteen years before Kennedy's address, Chuck Yeager had used nitrogen to power his "Glamorous Glennis" to first break the sound barrier. Not long after, Neil Armstrong and his crew used hydrogen to run a fuel cell to power their Apollo spacecraft as she sailed to the moon.

Seven months after his address to Congress, in a speech at Rice University, Kennedy captured the significance of the challenge in this way: "The space effort itself, while still in its infancy, has already created a great number of new companies, and tens of thousands of new jobs. Space and related industries are generating new demands in investment and skilled personnel, and this city and this state, and this region, will share greatly in this growth."2 The nation grew rich not just technologically or strategically but economically, with contracts let in every state. Large companies like Lockheed and Boeing led the way, and small fabrication shops and tiny software developers grew as well.

That was just the beginning, of course. Despite the glamour of the technological developments in the original Apollo, they were really just the seeds of fundamental advances made in a host of scientific and technological fields. The entire computing power of the Apollo spacecraft is now nested in your cell phone. Those computing advances surely accelerated that day allowing companies such as Microsoft and Google to revolutionize the world. Anyone who gets a new hip or knee now can be thankful for the materials handling and fabrication developments in the exotic composites used in reaching the moon. Someday, when we install a solar panel or a stationary fuel cell in our home, it will be because of strides made in providing the electricity for the space program. Our daily lives, from the Internet to medical care to our ability to call our teenagers on their mobile phones, are attributable to Kennedy's vision and Americans' response.

Apollo also proved the importance of backing vision with policy and investment. Meeting the challenge meant making a commitment to expanding the capabilities of the nation in both industrial might and intellectual prowess. Like the expansion of the railways before it, whose growth was accelerated by Lincoln's policies, Apollo could not get to the moon without vigorous governmental action.

So Kennedy gave his people the most important service a leader can provide. He gave them a goal. He provided trusted leadership in rallying to that goal. He recognized the innate but dormant qualities of his countrymen. He offered them a compelling vision for putting those qualities to work. He then mobilized the resources to see the job through.

Today America is ready for that same kind of leadership. We face challenges every bit as daunting as we did in the days of Apollo, including security concerns. This time the threat is from Middle Eastern oil instead of Russian ICBMs. This time we are in an economic race for the jobs of the next century. What's more, we now face the greatest challenge ever faced by all of humankind at the same time—global warming.

Success will not involve instant gratification. Our forthcoming clean-energy revolution, like the original Apollo Project, will not be easy. It will not be instantaneous or without risk. Kennedy knew how to face such major challenges—with action. "All this," he said, "will not be finished in the first hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first thousand days, nor in the life of this administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin."3

Chapter 1

A New Apollo Project for Energy

Where there is no vision, the people perish.

No one ever climbed a mountain they believed could not be climbed. No one ever started a business they believed would fail. And no nation ever undertook a major initiative it believed was destined for dust. When Kennedy said America was going to the moon, he did not believe we would fall short. So too, America will not commit itself to tackle the challenge of global warming or break free from the clutches of Middle Eastern oil until we have confidence that we can build a clean-energy future that will be brighter than the world we are living in today.

Why has America not risen to the challenges of climate change and oil dependence to date?

The problem is not inadequate information or insufficient scientific talent. It is not even the relentless obstructionism of vested interests, though we can't underestimate the tenacity and cleverness of the oil and automotive industries and the politicians indebted to them. Rather, the problem is an overabundance of fear. Fear that we cannot solve the problem. Fear that we cannot change the course we are on.

People have a finely developed ability to ignore problems—like the inevitability of our own death—that we believe we can do nothing about. Yet today, we do not have the luxury of ignorance. Our shift to a deep and abiding hope must be grounded in our ability to guide the forces of change for human betterment, informed by the dangers we face but guided by a belief in our own innovative potential.

As we shall see in the pages of this book, the spirit of innovation is alive today. It is alive at the labs of the Nanosolar Company in California, where a new type of solar cell may bring the world cheap electricity from the sun. It is alive in the wheat fields of Idaho, where the first commercial cellulosic ethanol plant in the world could be built. It is alive at the home of Mike and Meg Town in Washington State, which generates more energy than it consumes. In all fifty states of this union, individual Americans and their companies and communities are ready for the liftoff of a second Apollo project. Now we just need to engage the full scope of our national resources to that end.

Kennedy's original Apollo Project invested $18 billion per year (in 2005 dollars).1 The federal government's budget for energy is now just over $3 billion. Kennedy got us to the moon. The current energy budget will not get us anywhere but to the next high-priced gas station. To put this miserly $3 billion budget into perspective, the federal government spent $6 billion last year building a truck to withstand improvised explosive device (IED) detonations in Iraq. This budget is eclipsed by that of just one company, the Microsoft Corporation, which invests twice that sum, or $7 billion a year, in research.2 Just one new biological drug can cost a pharmaceutical company $1 billion to develop and bring to market. Even more astounding, according to the Economist magazine, the U.S. power-generating business, arguably the world's largest polluter, spent a smaller percentage of its revenue on research and development than the U.S. pet food industry did. Clearly, our priorities are in the wrong place.3

We don't need an incremental increase. We need the equivalent of a new space program. As with the original Apollo Project, much of the capital will flow from the private sector, but it will take federal invest ment and policy to move that capital toward new technologies that solve these problems.

It is not just money we need. Kennedy did much more than just write a budget. He wrote a new vision statement for the country. He created a national consensus that we were going to do whatever it took to reach that national goal. When young minds of a scientific bent asked "what they could do for their country," their answer was frequently to go into the space program. Our national leadership must now rekindle that sense of national purpose.

Fortunately, we have leaders today who can articulate the vision of a better future. We are about to meet some Americans who have already set out on that path. This book has been written as a map for the journey. It examines in turn each of the technologies in which we must invest to reach our goal, as well as pioneers of the new energy economy who are leading the way. While these inventors and activists can provide the engines of a new energy economy, it must ultimately be the people and our political leaders who set the course. If we choose wisely, when we reach our destination, we will have transformed the face of our nation. In so doing, we will have addressed the three legs of the new Apollo mission: attack global warming, reestablish our national security, and revitalize our manufacturing economy.

But while Kennedy had a decade to perform his feat, we may have far less time.

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