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Blog Cascadia Center’s “Beyond Oil” Conference: A Wrap-Up

Shai Agassi

A crowd of 500 key influencers from the private sector, government, academia and the media filled Microsoft’s large meeting facility in Redmond for the Sept. 4-5 conference organized by Discovery Institute’s Cascadia Center, “Beyond Oil: Transforming Transportation.” Gripping presentations by former CIA Director James Woolsey, electric car systems entrepreneur Shai Agassi of Better Place, and Microsoft’s sustainability guru Rob Bernard — plus groundbreaking vehicles on display, dozens of other great speakers and several high-level technical workshops – built a heady buzz and energized networking.

Among the take-aways

  • U.S. national security is badly compromised by our dependence on foreign oil — we need to develop an even greater sense of urgency around breaking the habit.
  • Electricity and the second-generation bio-fuels now under development will have the ability to revolutionize transportation. Renewable energy sources must be fostered to make sure clean electric transportation can become a reality nationwide. Even so, electric engines represent an immediate improvement in tailpipe emissions.
  • Cleaner, greener vehicles will still need infrastructure. A new transportation funding paradigm for roadway, bridge and transit projects is emerging, as the gas tax falls into permanent decline. More of the slack will be taken up, over time, through tolling revenue from variably-priced high occupancy and toll (HOT) lanes. These are free to multi-passenger vehicles and transit, and available to solo drivers for a cost, which varies according to real-time congestion.
  • As vehicle engine technology advances, so will traffic navigational tools and alternative transport strategies. Among large employers, Microsoft leads the way with innovations including its WiFi-equipped “Connector” commuter bus and van service for employees. The company’s “LiveMaps” technology illustrates how real-time road data can be transmitted to help choose optimal commuting windows. Meanwhile, a host of other technology companies are working on initiatives which before too long will allow every new car to become a moving computer, transmitting and receiving roadway data to manage the challenge of metro region mobility.

To drill down further, check out the speaker PowerPoints, all of which are linked to on this page.
“Beyond Oil” drew media coverage from a wide variety of outlets including major metro daily newspapers, talk radio, public affairs TV, industry journals, newspaper blogs and independent blogs. The conference also served as a focus for several Cascadia op-eds, in the Puget Sound Business Journal and Everett Herald. Links follow, and will be updated as additional pieces appear.

“Beyond Oil” Media Coverage, During And After The Event

Last updated 9/19/08.

“Beyond Oil” Pre-event Coverage

Bruce Agnew

Director, Cascadia Center
Since 2017, Bruce has served as Director of the ACES NW Network based in Seattle and Bellevue, Washington. The Network is dedicated to the acceleration of ACES (Autonomous-Connected-Electric-Shared) technology in Northwest transportation for the movement of people and goods. ACES is co-chaired by Tom Alberg, Co-Founder and managing partner of Madrona Venture Group in Seattle and Bryan Mistele, CEO/Co-Founder of INRIX global technology in Kirkland. In 2022, Bruce became the director of the newly created Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER) Regional Infrastructure Accelerator. Initial funding for the Accelerator has come from the Build America Bureau of the USDOT. PNWER is a statutory public/private nonprofit created in 1991 by the U.S. states of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, and Washington and the Canadian provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan and the territories of the Northwest Territories and the Yukon. PNWER has 16 cross-border working groups for common economic and environmental initiatives.