August 23, 2019
Web Feature

Innovation, Trade, and Bipartisanship Highlight Association of Washington Business Summit

Bringing together federal elected officials, business leaders and educators

U.S. Congressman Dan Newhouse pictured at the AWB Federal Affairs Summit held at PNNL

U.S. Representative Dan Newhouse provided the opening remarks at the AWB Federal Affairs Summit held at PNNL's Discovery Hall in Richland, Wash. on August 20.

Andrea Starr, PNNL

Bringing together federal elected officials, business leaders, educators, and PNNL representatives, the Association of Washington Business (AWB) held its 2019 Federal Affairs Summit in Richland on August 19 and 20. Hosted at PNNL in partnership with AWB, the third-annual event featured collaborative dialog on trade, innovation, energy, infrastructure, and other issues key to economic prosperity in Washington.

Sandra Haynes, chancellor of Washington State University (WSU), kicked off the summit with an evening reception at the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates WSU Wine Science Center. She welcomed visitors and spoke about exciting educational programs at the university, support for the wine industry and other sciences, and research conducted in partnership with PNNL.

The summit’s main program got under way the next morning at PNNL’s Discovery Hall with opening remarks from the summit’s emcee, Kris Johnson, president and CEO of AWB. He introduced Steven Ashby, PNNL laboratory director, who kicked off the day’s conversation by welcoming more than 150 participants representing diverse economic interests from across the state.

Ashby introduced Washington’s own Senator Maria Cantwell, who opened by recognizing PNNL’s impact on the region and the lab’s role as a “juggernaut of important research…a leader in national security, cybersecurity, and addressing personal security issues in this digital age.” The senator spoke further about her support for Congress to extend funding for the Export-Import Bank of the United States so that business owners and agricultural leaders of all sizes can access needed credit to run their businesses.

Cantwell also addressed the statewide need for affordable housing and fielded questions about her efforts to mitigate the impact of tariffs on the state’s agricultural economy and retail industries. She pledged to continue her fight to support all issues of importance to Washington State when Congress reconvenes in the nation’s capital next month.

Later that morning in a panel discussion on the future of energy supply and demand, panelists discussed the importance of nuclear, solar, wind, and hydro—along with gas and coal—to address the energy demands of the region.

Just before lunch, U.S. Representatives Dan Newhouse (4th District) and Derek Kilmer (6th District) joined together to lead an important discussion on bipartisanship.

“We are in the midst of massively disruptive economic and lifestyle change,” said Kilmer. “Issues and challenges facing society today, such as international trade and agriculture, job creation, and business growth, are not simple and are polarizing in a media environment that demands simplistic and easy to ‘bumper sticker’ explanations.” The Washington State delegation, which represented both political parties, pledged a willingness to address issues in a bipartisan manner, and to the benefit of all Washingtonians.

Under Secretary of Energy Mark Menezes gave the lunchtime keynote speech. Recognizing that PNNL is one of 17 very prestigious taxpayer-funded national labs, Menezes pledged political support for the labs’ missions and noted the gravity of PNNL’s responsibility. “PNNL is a driving force in developing cybersecurity solutions and anticipating threats to protect [energy grid] vulnerabilities.” He noted that this year wind will replace hydro as the leading source of renewable energy across the nation and that renewable energy supplies 76 percent of all energy demand.

After lunch, a panel discussion on the impact of federal policy on the agricultural industry highlighted the uncertainty that comes with changing trade policy and the concerns around tariffs, particularly in Washington’s agricultural industries.

U.S. Representative Suzan DelBene (1st District) then spoke about her work serving on the House Ways and Means Committee and as a vice chair of the New Democrat Coalition. She covered a range of topics including privacy security, the digital economy, farm bill funding, and immigration reform.

Rounding out the afternoon, Debbie Bone-Harris of Franklin Public Utility District discussed waterways as a power source, a transit corridor, and a natural resource with fellow panelists Derek Sandison from the Washington Department of Agriculture and Kiel Weaver from the U.S. Department of the Interior. The final panel, moderated by Lee Cheatham, PNNL’s director of technology deployment and outreach, addressed the future of innovation with panel participants from Cabitex, Cadwell Labs, and UniEnergy.

The summit ended with a reception in the Discovery Hall lobby.

Published: August 23, 2019