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

Original Article

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

We Have The Tools To Cut Oil Dependence, It’s Assembly That’s Required,” Steve Marshall & Bruce Agnew, Puget Sound Business Journal, 9/22/08.

Powering The Carbon-free Grid: Sun, Wind, Water, Waves, Atoms And Conservation,” TVW (Washington state’s public affairs TV channel), 9/17/08. Panelists are: Jim Walker, American Wind Energy Assn.; Paul Genoa, Nuclear Energy Institute; Kevin Bannister, Oregon Wave Energy Trust; Rich Lauckhart, Ventyx Energy Advisors; Jim Piro, Portland General Electric.

Transforming Transportation Globally,’ Shai Agassi, Better Place (Sept. 5 luncheon keynote address), TVW, 9/16/08. Introduction by Tom Alberg, Madrona Venture Group.

Only Intervention Of Electric Car Can Break Oil Addiction,” David Seago, Tacoma News Tribune, 9/14/08.

Making A Bold Case For Moving Our Economy Beyond Oil,” Glenn R. Pascall, Puget Sound Business Journal, 9/12/08.

Future Of Transportation, Funding and Climate Change,” TVW, 9/12/08. Slade Gorton, National Transportation Policy Project; Paul Brubaker, USDOT’s Research & Innovative Technology Administration; David Kaplan, V2Green; WSDOT Sec. Paula Hammond; Bill Rogers, Idaho National Laboratory; Neil Schuster, American Assn. of Motor Vehicles Administrators. Preceded by a presentation from Admiral Dennis Blair, Securing America’s Future Energy.

Updating The Big Rigs For A Greener Tomorrow,” Don Cayo, Vancouver Sun, 9/11/08.

Rob Bernard Video: “The Road Ahead,” TVW, 9/11/08. Microsoft’s chief environmental strategist talks transportation, technology and environment. Preceded by Don Foley’s update on national “X Prize” car rally, King County Executive Ron Sims, and welcoming remarks from Discovery Institute’s President Bruce Chapman.

Electric Cars, Biofuels Compete For Attention At Cascadia Conference,” EV World, 9/10/08.

Plug-in Cars Give Owners A Real Jolt Of Satisfaction,” Debera Carlton Harrell, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 9/9/08.

James Woolsey Video: “The Case For Change”, TVW, 9/9/08. Former CIA Director Woolsey solo, with introduction from U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert; then joined by Chelsea Sexton, K.C. Golden; and followed by Peter Jackson.

The Zen Of ZENN: Clean Driving,” David Seago, Inside The Editorial Page blog, Tacoma News Tribune, 9/8/09.

Beyond Oil: Energy Rush TV At Microsoft,” Energy Rush TV blog, 9/8/09.

Biofuel Musses Up Electric Car Fest,” Angel Gonzalez, Seattle Times, 9/7/09.

“The American Politics Behind Rising Gas Prices,” Don Cayo, Vancouver Sun, 9/6/08.

Former CIA Boss Says Americans Are Funding The Bad Guys,” Don Cayo, Globalization – For Better Or Worse blog, Vancouver Sun, 9/6/08.

Beyond Oil,” Eric Berman, Random Political Commentary blog, 9/6/08.

American Business Driving A New Car Culture,” Don Cayo, Vancouver Sun, 9/5/08.

Report From The Trenches: ‘Beyond Oil’ Conference In Redmond, Wash.,” Gordon Feller (CEO, Urban Age Institute), in Green Car Advisor,, 9/5/08.

Can The Developing World Dodge The Rich World’s Mistakes?,” Don Cayo, Globalization – For Better Or Worse blog, Vancouver Sun, 9/5/08.

CEOs: Surprise Backers Of Cap-and-Trade; Obama, McCain Like Electric Cars,” Aaron Corvin, Washington CEO blog, 9/5/08.

Thank God For HOV Lanes,” David Seago, Inside The Editorial Page blog, Tacoma News Tribune, 9/5/08.

Expert: Peak Oil Is Real, Electrifying Transportation Is The Answer,” Aaron Corvin, Washington CEO blog, 9/4/08.

Beyond Oil,” David Seago, Inside The Editorial Page blog, Tacoma News Tribune, 9/4/08.

“Beyond Oil” Pre-event Coverage

“‘Beyond Oil: Transforming Transportation’ Conference In Redmond,” Green Motorist, 9/3/08.

Transportation Solutions To America’s Oil Addiction Focus Of Conference,” Energy Daily, 9/3/03.

Transportation Solutions To America’s Oil Addiction Focus Of Conference,”, 9/3/08.

Oil-free Snohomish County? It’s No Longer A Pipe Dream,” Steve Marshall & Bruce Agnew, Everett Herald, 9/2/08.

Transportation: A Better Grid,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorial, 9/2/08.

Northwest Could Be A Leader In Electric Transport Systems,” Steve Marshall & Bruce Agnew, Puget Sound Business Journal, 9/1/08.

Big Post-oil Conference To Have Electric Cars, Bigwig Speakers,” Jared Paben, Bellingham Herald, 8/26/08.

Dave Ross Show, KIRO-AM 710 Seattle, 8/22/08. (Guests: Steve Marshall, Anne Korin, Chelsea Sexton).

Trucks – From Delivery Vans To Big Rigs – Need To Get Efficient Too,” Steve Marshall & Bruce Agnew, Puget Sound Business Journal, 8/18/08.

Turbulence In Air Travel: What High Fuel Costs Mean To Boeing,” Steve Marshall & Bruce Agnew, 8/4/08.

Cascadia Center thanks its “Beyond Oil” co-sponsors: Idaho National Laboratory; Microsoft; U.S. Department of Transportation; Washington State Department of Transportation; Puget Sound Clean Air Agency; and Pemco Insurance.

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.