Terry McAuliffe, Virginia’s former gubernatorial Democratic candidate, visited VCU on Tuesday to discuss new developments in his green car company, as well the economy, new jobs and sustainability.
McAuliffe’s main focus was on improving the economy, which he said could be done by creating more jobs. His goal is to purchase the International Paper Company’s old building, located in Franklin County, and convert it into a bio mass facility.
“It’s sad; 1,100 jobs overnight were laid off when they closed the plant down,” McAuliffe said. “What’s happening is that we’re not using as much paper anymore … A lot of these jobs are being lost as we’re shutting down paper mills … Hopefully, we’ll be able to create a green city, where we’ll be able to create a lot more green technology jobs.”
McAuliffe also told students about his trip to Saudi Arabia. After hearing that the country planned on spending tens of billions of dollars in wind and solar power, which puzzled him, considering Saudi Arabia is a major source of oil for the world, he went over to investigate what was behind their investment.
He said the economic advisors there told him, “When we use oil that we take out of the ground in Saudi Arabia and use it internally here in our country, it costs us $2.47 a barrel. We get to sell it to (the United States) for $80 a barrel. We don’t want to use (oil) here; we want to sell it to you.” McAuliffe said that it was important to him for the United States to also invest in wind, solar and other alternative energy sources in order for the country to stop depending on other countries for energy, thus creating more jobs and helping the environment.
According to ontheissues.org, the Republican Party is supportive of exploring green energy production, but thinks the United States should focus more readily on using domestic oil, including reserves in Alaska. The web site also says the government should “expand the tax credit for renewable energy sources.” Another Republican web site, gop.com, similarly says, “We support an ‘all of the above’ approach that encourages the production of nuclear power, clean coal, natural gas, solar, wind, geothermal, hydropower, as well as off-shore drilling in an environmentally responsible way.”
VCU’s role in the green technologies, according to McAuliffe, is having students pursue an education in the types of fields that will further the development of sustainability, especially in math and science.
Gonzalo Aida, a senior political science major, supported McAuliffe’s green initiatives. “VCU is such a good campus. It’s already making a great effort in going green and being more sustainable. On campus we have the green vehicles, and we have so many other green initiatives. I think VCU will be one of the universities in the Commonwealth that will be on the forefront of this green movement,” Aida said.
Katie Rivara, a senior elementary education major, said she thinks it’s more important for VCU to invest in the green technologies that McAuliffe spoke of. “I think we need to implement a green energy (on campus). Without incentives, people aren’t going to invest in green energy.” She said the university could serve as a leader in the Richmond community.
McAuliffe plans to continue to invest in green technology and grow his Green Tech Automotive company, in hopes of creating as many new jobs as possible. He said while he doesn’t know for sure, another candidacy for the gubernatorial race is a possibility for his future.