Development of 'green technology' is sought Md. company founder backs Mikulski bill for new agency

July 22, 1992|By Carol Emert | Carol Emert,States News Service

WASHINGTON -- A solar-powered icemaker made by Energy Concepts Co. of Annapolis is the only feasible way for many people in developing countries to have refrigeration, according to the company's founder, Donald Erickson. But developing and marketing the product has been stymied by the lumbering U.S. government bureaucracy, Mr. Erickson told a Senate committee yesterday.

Arguing that the country was missing out on an enormous world market for emerging environmental technologies, Mr. Erickson was testifying on behalf of a bill introduced by Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., that would establish a new federal agency to coordinate and fund the research, development and marketing of environmentally sound technologies and products.

"While we win the [Nobel science] prizes, other countries win the markets," Ms. Mikulski told the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee.

"It is in this field [environmental technology] that the next economic superpowers will emerge."

Sen. John Glenn, D-Ohio, chairman of the committee, agreed that "technology can do for our environment what it did for our national defense." Currently, so-called green technology programs are poorly coordinated and driven by agency regulations rather than market demands, he said.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the market for environmental technologies -- those that attempt to meet the world's food, energy, and other needs in a cleaner, more efficient way -- will increase 50 percent by 2000.

That would mean the world market would expand from a current $200 billion to $300 billion by 2000 and the number of Americans currently employed in such fields would increase to 1.2 million from 800,000 today, Ms. Mikulski said.

Witnesses at the hearing were united in the view that the U.S. was missing the boat in developing such technologies, while the governments of Germany and Japan have taken active roles in marketing and research and development and have pledged billions of dollars to their environmental technology sectors.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., a member of the committee, said that 70 percent of pollution-control equipment used in the United States, for example, is imported from overseas.

Much of it was invented in the United States but made in Japan because "the Japanese government supports new technology," he said.

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