Blog U.S. Transportation Chief Visits Seattle

Seattle isn’t always the first stop for U.S. Cabinet officials. But if U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters‘ visit today is any indication, when the issue is transportation, Seattle is a natural top of agenda locale.
With the help of Cascadia Center and others, Secretary Peters swept into town on Friday for a series of meetings with business and policy leaders. The Cascadia Center, with its growing leadership in the alternative energy and plug-in hybrid, electric vehicle space, played a critical role in the visit by coordinating several meetings for the United States’ 15th transportation chief.
Today’s closed meetings and work sessions focused on the question of transportation technology, innovation, finance and the Northwest’s leadership role in finding solutions to regional and nationwide transportation challenges. Phoenix Motorcars, an electric car company based in California, brought one of its prototypes to Seattle for Secretary Peters and others to see.
Cascadia Center has long argued that the U.S. reliance on foreign oil is not sustainable. As former CIA director James Woolsey has said, it’s an addiction that funds both sides of the war on terrorism. Based on our research and analysis, the most sensible way to move beyond oil is to use clean electricity to power vehicles.
We’d like to see the Northwest lead in the adoption of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. It’s the best way to: achieve greater energy independence, cut greenhouse gases and help reduce our trade deficit. It’s clear to us that a Northwest pilot project that showed the successful adoption of PHEVs by commercial and government fleets as well as consumers could set a workable, realistic example for other regions and the country.
We’re working with the state and U.S. transportation departments on proposals that would test how to recharge PHEVs at park and ride lots. (The illustration to the right is one vision.) And we’re also collaborating to encourage transit use and to introduce congestion pricing to replace lost gas tax revenues when gas consumption declines with the move to alternative fuels and electricity.
Today’s visit by Secretary Peters is evidence that the nation’s leaders are willing to look to the Northwest for ideas and examples of how to confront transportation challenges now and down the road. We believe the region’s political and business leaders are up to the challenge.