Governor Gary Herbert of Utah and Chinese Governor Luo of Qinghai Province commemorated the beginning of their EcoPartnership, as a part of an hour-long ceremony at the Golden Meeting Room at the Utah State Capitol on July 13, 2011. I was delighted to attend the ceremonies with Rhonda Binda, who serves on the EcoPartnership Secretariat, and Jefferson Science Fellow Jay Gore, two members of my office who have worked closely with Griff Thompson and Eric Maltzer from the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES), under the leadership of Assistant Secretary Kerri-Ann Jones, in selecting the latest round of EcoPartnerships.
One remarkable feature of the Utah-Qinghai EcoPartnership is a shared enthusiasm for the more efficient use of conventional fuels, as well as a planned transition to renewable energy. Another remarkable feature is that the two governors have leveraged the State Department's recognition of this partnership to forge a Sister State agreement as well as an MOU for educational cooperation between Utah Valley University (UVU) and Qinghai Normal University. Governor Herbert declared that this was just the beginning of many more partnerships between government, business, education, and philanthropic institutions in the two states.
The EcoPartnership, also called the "Utah-Qinghai Industrial Technology Alliance," creates a framework for joint innovation in green technology and provides a platform for businesses, academic and research institutes, and governments in Utah and Qinghai to exchange technology, expertise, ideas, and culture. From this partnership, a joint research laboratory will be created; discussions regarding the respect for and protection of intellectual property for Utah technologies are already underway. In addition, discussions regarding investment of Chinese capital in Utah's energy industry are progressing rapidly.
Just two months ago on May 10, 2011, Secretary Clinton welcomed the launch of six new EcoPartnerships in the Department of State's Treaty Room in Washington, D.C., with guest of honor Xie Zhenhua, the Chinese Vice Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission. Secretary Clinton spoke about the "…need to harness the unique skills of both of our cities, our states, our universities, our private companies, [and] our civil societies to find solutions to common problems. That is especially true when it comes to clean energy, energy security, environmental stability, and climate change. Both of our countries have companies that are developing new and exciting technologies, universities that are doing groundbreaking research and local governments that have unique perspectives on the community environmental issues they face which can have a global impact."
The Utah-Qinghai Industrial Technology Alliance became the first of at least six new EcoPartnerships planning their formal launch this autumn. The season promises to be an exciting new phase of state and local government cooperation.