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Richardson stresses innovation at energy conference keynote

Published: Monday, March 4, 2013

Updated: Monday, March 4, 2013 02:03


Zhuangchen Zhou / The Tufts Daily

Bill Richardson discussed the need for innovation in energy policy as the second keynote speaker at this weekend’s Tufts Energy Conference.


Former United States Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson (A ’70, F ’71) emphasized the importance of renewable energy use in environmental policy during his Saturday keynote address at the eighth annual Tufts Energy Conference.

Richardson, a former New Mexico governor and Tufts alumnus spoke about the need for science in Congressional climate change discussions.

In his speech, Richardson highlighted the need for innovation in solving international energy problems. 

While he said he is optimistic about the United States’ future, the lack of integration between science and public policy has caused problems in Washington, D.C.

“Somehow the science of climate change is not happening,” Richardson said. Although the Obama administration has prioritized solving climate change in its agenda, Richardson said not enough has occurred within Congress to benefit the environment.

Richardson said the federal, not state, government, needs to be the body that leads this realm of policy. State-by-state laws that regulate energy are not enough to solve the problem, he said.

Since 1983 when he started serving as a Congressman for 14 years, the country has chosen coal as its favorite energy source to use regardless of the circumstances, Richardson said.

Rather than monopolize coal, Richardson said the government should implement an “all of the above” approach where the country uses alternative forms of power in addition to, not instead of, those currently in use.

In addition to his discussion about energy policy, Richardson shared a few tips for students interested in pursuing a political career. 

Likability and trustworthiness are the two reasons why candidates are elected, Richardson said.

“Losing sometimes is the way to win,” Richardson said.

Richardson also encouraged students frustrated with problems, like those regarding energy and the environment, to run for political office.

“Our body politic needs an infusion of new people,” he said. “We’re at a critical juncture in our body politic. Think about running yourself.”

After the speech, Richardson took questions from several members of the audience, who asked him about his opinions of Tufts Divest for Our Future and Keystone XL Pipeline.

Two students engaged Richardson in dialogue about the Divest platform, which asks that Tufts end investment in fossil fuel companies. 

Though at first he did not support the idea, Richardson said he would look over the students’ ideas if they sent him an argument with “facts, options and alternatives.”

“I want each one of you think deep: ‘What can I do to promote public policy?’” Richardson said.

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