Transportation Leaders Gather To Discuss Solutions to America's Addiction to Oil

Two days in Seattle won't solve the nation's addiction to foreign oil but might be enough to give national leaders the ideas needed for an eventual cure. That's what Seattle-based Cascadia Center of Discovery Institute has in mind for its conference on September 4-5 on Microsoft's campus in Redmond, Wash., "Beyond Oil: Transforming Transportation." Cascadia Center is encouraging the development of demonstration projects to show how technology and policy can merge to help the country move beyond oil in transportation.

Cascadia Center has pushed the idea that one of the best solutions for reducing dependence on foreign oil and cutting greenhouse gas emissions is the acceleration and integration of flexible fuel, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). The issue has now moved from concept to reality.

"Most major automakers have announced they'll produce PHEVs in the next two years," says Bruce Agnew, Cascadia's director. "Next, the public and private sectors should work together as both new technologies and political will converge to set the stage for a transportation transformation."

In the fifth year of its conference series, co-hosted with Microsoft, Idaho National Laboratory, the U.S. Department of Transportation and others, Cascadia is joined by the top thinkers on vehicle technology, foreign oil dependence and the environment. Shai Agassi, founder of Project Better Place, will give Friday's keynote address. Mr. Agassi and the Israeli government have agreed to test concepts for moving the entire country away from oil in transportation through wide-scale implementation of electric cars. Former CIA director James Woolsey will discuss the national security implications of foreign oil dependence, while Andy Frank -- father of the plug-in hybrid -- will discuss how to move from oil to electricity in transportation.

"The United States should take a cue from Shai Agassi, who is proving that government and the private sector can come together to rapidly and smartly address what is a universal, collective addiction to oil," says Agnew. "The numbers are sobering. We import over 60 percent of and have a transportation system that is 97 percent dependent on oil. We can overcome this addiction. Getting everyone to the table is the right first step."

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