Washington’s Newest Think Tank Focuses on Green Power

Matthew Stepp is executive director of the Center for Clean Energy Innovation, part of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. February 2014
National Journal
Mike Magner
March 2, 2014, 9:07 a.m.

As a met­eor­o­logy stu­dent at a Pennsylvania col­lege, Mat­thew Stepp didn’t as­pire to be a TV weather­man but he loved the re­search on the forces of nature. “I was al­ways a sci­ence nerd,” he said.

He went on to earn a mas­ter’s de­gree in sci­ence, tech­no­logy, and pub­lic policy at the Rochester In­sti­tute of Tech­no­logy, and just five years after gradu­ation, Stepp, 29, has be­come the lead­er of Wash­ing­ton’s new­est think tank, the Cen­ter for Clean En­ergy In­nov­a­tion.

Housed at the In­form­a­tion Tech­no­logy and In­nov­a­tion Found­a­tion, the cen­ter is unique among re­search or­gan­iz­a­tions in the cap­it­al. “We’re the only one dir­ectly fo­cused on en­ergy-in­nov­a­tion policy,” Stepp said.

The goal is to ad­dress cli­mate change by ad­voc­at­ing for gov­ern­ment policies that en­cour­age de­vel­op­ment of low-car­bon tech­no­lo­gies. In do­ing so, the cen­ter will be “tech­no­logy-neut­ral,” Stepp said, mean­ing it will look for ways to gen­er­ally pro­mote in­nov­a­tion in the en­ergy world.

“We want to see the same kind of tech­no­logy de­vel­op­ment for clean en­ergy as we saw with frack­ing,” he said, re­fer­ring to the ad­vance­ments in drilling tech­niques that led to the cur­rent U.S. oil and gas boom.

Among the sub­jects the cen­ter will ad­dress are Amer­ic­an re­search and de­vel­op­ment pro­grams, tax policy, trade is­sues, sci­ence and math edu­ca­tion, and ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing. It plans to put out its first re­port in late March or early April of­fer­ing poli­cy­makers an agenda for ac­tion on clean-en­ergy de­vel­op­ment, Stepp said.

Stepp, a Phil­adelphia nat­ive, fin­ished his mas­ter’s in 2009 and landed a fel­low­ship at the Na­tion­al Academy of Sci­ences as­sist­ing the Trans­port­a­tion Re­search Board. He later moved to the Break­through In­sti­tute, where he worked on green-en­ergy is­sues, be­fore mov­ing to the In­form­a­tion Tech­no­logy and In­nov­a­tion Found­a­tion in 2010 as an en­ergy policy ana­lyst.

What We're Following See More »
DONATING TO FOOD BANKS
Government Buying $20 Million in Cheese
3 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Thanks to competition from Europe, America's cheese stockpiles are at a 30-year high. Enter the U.S. government, which announced it's buying 11 million pounds of the stuff (about $20 million). The cheese will be donated to food banks.

Source:
BRIEFER THAN TRUMP’S?
Clinton to Receive Classified Briefing on Saturday
5 hours ago
THE DETAILS
FHFA RULES APPLY
Judge: Freddie Mac Doesn’t Have to Open Its Books
7 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Freddie Mac shareholders cannot force the mortgage finance company to allow them to inspect its records, a federal court ruled Tuesday." A shareholder had asked the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to allow him to inspect its books and records, as Virginia law allows him to do. "The court held that Freddie shareholders no longer possess a right to inspect the company’s records because those rights had been transferred to the Federal Housing Finance Agency when the company entered into conservatorship in 2008."

Source:
MANY BEING TRADED ON BLACK MARKET
Pentagon Can’t Account for 750k Guns Provided to Iraq, Afghanistan
7 hours ago
THE DETAILS

The Pentagon has "provided more than 1.45 million firearms to various security forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, including more than 978,000 assault rifles, 266,000 pistols and almost 112,000 machine guns." Trouble is, it can only account for about 700,000 of those guns. The rest are part of a vast arms trading network in the Middle East. "Taken together, the weapons were part of a vast and sometimes minimally supervised flow of arms from a superpower to armies and militias often compromised by poor training, desertion, corruption and patterns of human rights abuses."

Source:
SINCE JANUARY
Baltimore Is Spying on Its Residents from the Air
10 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

"Since the beginning of the year, the Baltimore Police Department" has been using a Cessna airplane armed with sophisticated camera equipment "to investigate all sorts of crimes, from property thefts to shootings." The public hasn't been notified about the system, funded by a private citizen.

Source:
×