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PIEC draws national experts, focuses on 'green' energy

Robert Socolow

Princeton professor and author Robert Socolow, co-creator of the "Stabilization Wedge Game," gave keynote remarks during PIEC. He has done recent work on high carbon emitters, carbon capture and storage, and biofuels. (Photo by Vincent Massaro)

By Alyssa Cameron (3L)

The University of Florida Levin College of Law hosted the 17th annual Public Interest Environmental Conference Feb. 24-26. This year's conference was themed "It's Not Easy Being Green: Our Energy Future." The conference focused on renewable and non-renewable sources of energy, how that energy is distributed, and its relationship to economic development, environmental protection and social justice.

Although energy affects everyone's daily activities, from driving a car to turning on lights, "we often don't consider the broader consequences of our daily activities," Conference Co-Chair Carli Koshal said.

Panelists included a broad range of perspectives including representatives of government agencies, public interest organizations and industry, as well as internationally known scholars. Panels addressed energy sectors including solar, wind, biofuels, nuclear and fossil fuels as well as the overlying land use, transportation, and environmental justice issues.

"The era of cheap energy is coming to an end," warned J. Peter Byrne, professor and director of the Center for Energy and Climate Policy at the University of Delaware, at the conference's opening plenary. Byrne, a shareholder recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, addressed "U.S. Energy Obesity" and described ways society can reduce energy consumption.

The student-run conference continues to draw people from across the country, even in its 17th year. University of Florida Law Professor Alyson Flournoy credits the continued success to the conference's reputation of having an interesting, broad agenda featuring a diverse group of speakers.

"Including speakers from government, NGOs, universities, and industry helps to broaden people's perspectives," Flournoy said.