Former NY governor praises Israel’s cleantech ingenuity

"Israelis are creative people looking for breakthrough leaps," says Pataki.

February 21, 2010 23:01
2 minute read.
George Pataki.

george pataki 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Former New York governor George Pataki was very excited by the new technologies he saw at the Eilat-Eilot International Renewable Energy Conference last week, he told The Jerusalem Post by phone on Thursday.

Pataki, now with the New York law firm of Chadbourne & Parke where he focuses on environmental projects and next generation cars, was a featured speaker at the conference.

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Pataki said there was “terrific enthusiasm” at the conference. “Unlike in most other countries, but like in the US, Israelis are creative people looking for breakthrough leaps,” not just incremental improvements, he said.

Chadbourne & Parke has recently created a practice area called “next generation cars.” Pataki, who heads the new interdisciplinary division, is one of a growing number of people who are actively working to reduce the US’s dependence on foreign oil. While energy production comes mostly from sources other than foreign oil, transportation is almost exclusively powered by oil.

“The US and Israel have an overreliance on foreign oil. I think the technology, public demand and economic opportunity are finally coming together to produce next generation vehicles,” he told the Post.

“In the US, there’s a confluence of three different elements. First, an overreliance on foreign oil. It is the largest transfer of wealth ever. The US sends a half trillion dollars overseas yearly [to pay for oil].

“Second, environmental issues such as air pollution are becoming much more of a concern. And finally, the geopolitical and strategic issues – the money is going directly or indirectly to unfriendly regimes such as Iran and Venezuela,” Pataki reasoned.

That’s where next generation vehicles come in.

It’s important that governments don’t pick a technology or a system, but rather be open to all different arrangements, he argued.

“My friend T. Boone Pickens [the Dallas-based billionaire head of the BP Capital Management hedge fund] has suggested running heavy vehicles off of natural gas. Then there are all-electric and plug-in hybrid electrics, ethanol, and bio-diesel cars. We’ve gotten to know the Better Place project pretty well and we’re excited about it,” he added.

Pataki was confident that the move toward alternative energies and alternative fuel cars was not a niche market, but would be a worldwide phenomenon.

“Technology will drive change and probably faster than many expect. This is not just for the US or Israel. Each country will have its own model,” he predicted.

Even massive developing countries like China and India will see that it is in their best interest to develop cleanly, he argued.

“China doesn’t want to rely on foreign oil either. Look at the air pollution problems they have as well,” he said.

Not too long from now, alternative energies and technological breakthroughs “won’t just help environmental problems but will become new wealth generating technologies as well,” Pataki envisaged. Many in Israel have begun to turn to cleantech as the next hi-tech type revolution for Israeli export.

Pataki was here with a number of professionals from Chadbourne & Parke’s practice to make contacts, look at technologies and let Israeli companies know about his firm’s new practice area. The practice area assists clients with everything from intellectual property and protection of technology to raising equity and strategic relations between companies, according to Pataki.

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