Google’s Schmidt would bring climate activism to Obama admin

Patrick Howley Political Reporter
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Google CEO and reported Obama Cabinet prospect Eric Schmidt is also a climate-change activist that has advocated for the complete termination of the oil, natural gas, and coal industries, records reveal, and once predicted that Washington, D.C. will soon be completely underwater. His past statements may shed some light on what to expect from his possible future in the Obama administration.

Schmidt is a leading candidate to join President Obama’s Cabinet in Obama’s second term, the Washington Examiner reported this week. Schmidt is reportedly being considered for either the Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of Commerce, or Secretary of Business positions.

“Nobody’s better positioned for a Cabinet job, if he wants one,” a Democratic strategist told the Examiner.

But Schmidt’s past statements on climate change and his ideas for the future of the energy industry could raise concerns during his potential confirmation process.

Schmidt outlined many of his ideas during a presentation at a November 2008 Natural Resources Defense Council event called “Partnership for the Earth: Strategies and Solutions for Energy Security,” held at Google NYC.

Schmidt discussed proposals to build “very, very sophisticated” solar transmission systems in the Western United States, which he said “are currently on a fast track to occur in ten years.”

“We don’t have ten years, guys,” Schmidt said. “Look at the math of climate change. If you want to be in a hurry, look at the compounding. Look at the math. We don’t have time.” (16:03-16:48 of Video 1)

Schmidt proposed replacing the U.S. natural gas and coal industries in their entirety and replacing them with green energy alternatives.

“Is there a way to take all the fossil fuels that are currently being used – roughly seventy percent of the electric power being used in the United States – and replace it?” Schmidt asked the audience.

“Remember, these plants die. They have to be replaced and so forth. There’s new demand. So with some assumption, including holding energy consumption per citizen constant — which has been true in California since 1973 and not true in many other states — we’re able to take the money that’s saved from that single idea and plow that into the construction of solar, wind, and enhanced geothermal.” (9:15-10:03 of Video 1)


Schmidt also suggested that new car efficiency standards could be used to take revenge against the oil industry.

“Wouldn’t it be nice to cause the demand for petroleum to drop dramatically, after everything that’s happened to us and been done to us?” Schmidt asked. “Let’s get back at this. Okay? I remember.” (12:40-12:55 of Video 1)

Schmidt also predicted that Obama’s stimulus package would be able to help realize his ambitious ideas.

“Thank goodness there’s a whole bunch of cash about to happen. And I’m not talking about the bank bailout. I’m talking about the stimulus package. And President-elect Obama, thank goodness, has talked about that, ‘If you’re going to have a stimulus package, you might as well invest in roads, bridges, schools, broadband, and energy efficiency and these kinds of things. Perfect.” (13:00 – 13:27 of Video 1)

Schmidt, an unofficial advisor to both Obama presidential campaigns and a member of the Obama transition team in 2009, has long engaged in environmental activism and related philanthropy.

Schmidt raised the possibility that the nation’s capital might be underwater within this century during a January 2008 presentation at the NASA 50th Anniversary Lecture Series in Washington, D.C.

“It turns out that there’s a lot of debate about global warming,” Schmidt said as he unveiled a computerized projection of Washington, D.C. under water. “I’m a little worried about the Smithsonian. And I want you to look at the NASA headquarters. It’s a little bit of a problem. I think it has an underground parking garage,” Schmidt joked. “You’re in big trouble.”

“There is an article yesterday that says that there is a possibility of this scenario occurring by the year 2100,” Schmidt added. (12:00-12:45 of Video 2)

The Schmidt Family Foundation, founded by Schmidt and his wife Wendy, aims to affect change by “investing in a pattern of economic development that includes green, sustainable environmental practices and design.”

“we support public education around issues of energy and the environment and promote public understanding of the science of climate change,” according to the foundation’s website.

Wendy Schmidt is also a trustee of several environmental groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council and Climate Central, which aims to “Communicate the science and effects of climate change to the public and decision-makers.”