Move over climate and energy wonks; this is shaping up to be a triple-feature week of the geeks. President Obama and Apple (s AAPL) chief Steve Jobs met and discussed, among other things, energy independence and technology, according to a White House spokesman. Bill Gates poured $700,000 into the fight against Proposition 23 in California, legislation that would suspend the state’s landmark climate law. And today, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu is heading to the Googleplex for a talk about renewable energy and innovation. What’s that you say? We’re in the home stretch of contentious midterm elections? No way.
According to a statement from White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Obama and Jobs “discussed American competitiveness and education” during their 45-minute meeting on Thursday, which was not on the President’s schedule (he was in the Bay Area as part of a West Coast campaign swing that included events at the homes of greentech venture capitalist Steve Westly and Google VP Marissa Mayer). “They then talked about energy independence and ways to increase job creation.”
As for Bill Gates contributing to the “No on 23” campaign, he’s the latest tech heavyweight to come out against a ballot measure that’s heavily backed by Texas-based oil companies Valero (s VLO) and Tesoro (s tso). In August, venture capitalist Vinod Khosla commented that if Prop. 23 passes, it “will kill the market and the single largest source of job creation in California in the last two years.”
Innovation started in California, and the next ten Googles of greentech will be created there, Khosla said, because the market is there. If California’s market is destroyed, other states, as well as China and other countries will have a competitive edge — and those next ten Googles will be born in those markets, he said. Applied Materials (s AMAT) CEO and Chairman Mike Splinter wrote in a recent post here on Earth2Tech that, “Prop 23 would pull the rug out from this explosive growth and our effort to reduce our addiction to fossil fuels.”
The Department of Energy’s announcement about Chu’s visit to Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. this morning says he will be discussing Obama administration’s “vision for a clean and renewable economy,” in a chat with Google employees. He’s also slated to go through a series of briefings with Google researchers on the company’s “innovative ventures in the energy sector.”
When Chu visited the Googleplex around this time last year, he announced $151 million in ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects-Energy) grants for early stage greentech, and had an interesting “fireside chat” with Google CEO Eric Schmidt about carbon capture technology. So check back here for our reporting from today’s event.
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