The "Un-debate" on Energy and Sustainability
September 15, 2016
Energy and sustainability policies are taking on a prominence, and divisiveness, that has become all the more amplified during the current election cycle. In today’s increasingly polarized political sphere, NYU Washington, DC welcomed leaders from various points-of-view, including representatives from the Democrat, Republican, Green and Libertarian parties, for an “un-debate” on clean energy and sustainability. This multi-partisan panel examined key environmental challenges and identified commonalities between the parties, that could provide national policymakers a path forward on these important issues.
This dialogue was organized in collaboration with Leaders in Energy and Potential Energy DC.
Meet the Panel
Charles Hernick, Republican Nominee for US House of Representatives
Charles Hernick is the Republican Nominee for US House of Representatives at Virginia's 8th Congressional District.
Charles is an international environmental consultant. He addresses high-profile issues affecting natural resources and economic development by informing policy changes, improving program implementation, and managing projects effectively. He is an expert in identifying cost-effective ways to mitigate and adapt to climate change, applying ecosystem service concepts to decision-making, and complying with USAID’s environmental impact assessment process—as demonstrated through numerous trainings, invited lectures, and advisory roles he has taken on these subjects. He has worked in countries across Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa.
Chris Rackens, Democratic Energy and Environmental Policy Advisor
Chris Rackens is a Democratic Energy and Environmental Policy Advisor. He currently serves as Executive Director at Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition (SEEC). Previously, he was a Legislative Assistant, Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ), responsible for work related to member's position as Ranking Member of House Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. He graduated from Virginia Tech with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Legal Studies.
Arvin Vohra, Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate in Maryland
Arvin Vohra is the Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate in Maryland.
Before starting his own educational business, he studied Mathematics and Economics at Brown University, and then worked as an actuary. After seeing the negative effects of government on business, education, and more, Arvin spent more and more time working for the causes of liberty.
He currently spends his time working as Vice Chair for the Libertarian National Committee, host of the Libertarians Working For You radio show, and vocal advocate for defunding and downsizing government programs that limit the freedoms of the American people.
Tim Willard, Co-Chair for the Montgomery County Green Party
Tim Willard serves as Co-Chair for the Montgomery County Green Party. Tim has lived in Montgomery County for thirty years. Tim and his wife have three children. He worked for 26 years at the National Archives.
Meet the Moderator
Jan Brinch provides energy research and analysis, program design and management, and outreach and engagement for public, private, trade, and non-profit organizations on clean and emerging energy technologies and policies across all end-use sectors.
Ms. Brinch has designed, convened, and facilitated stakeholder workshops, forums, peer reviews, training seminars, and technology roadmapping meetings on many energy topics. Among them have been climate change and extreme weather interactions, corporate purchasing of renewable energy, combined heat and power (CHP), distributed generation technologies and systems, energy efficiency technologies for residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional facilities, renewable technologies and systems such as solar/photovoltaics, biofuels, wind systems, and hydrogen fueled vehicles and refueling infrastructure, electricity transmission and distribution, and smart grid inter-operability and deployment.
Jan is currently engaged as the Director of the Eastern Interconnection States' Planning Council (EISPC), a collaboration among 39 states and the City of New Orleans. EISPC is an historic endeavor initially funded by an award from the United States Department of Energy (DOE) pursuant to a provision of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). It is comprised of public utility commissions, Governors' offices, energy offices, and other key government representatives.
This collaboration has fostered coordinated and collaborative support to regional and interconnection-level analyses and planning undertaken by federal, regional, and state planning entities. This Initiative is unparalleled in its scope, in the application of state-of-the-art planning tools, expertise, and long-term public policy ramifications.