Mikulski co-sponsors bill to aid 'green technology'


WASHINGTON -- "Green technology" is the economic wave o the future, says Maryland Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, and it's a wave the United States can't afford to miss.

A bill introduced yesterday by Ms. Mikulski, Sen. Max Baucus of Montana and Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, all Democrats, would help transform the United States from a service-based economy to one centered on "environmental technologies," Ms. Mikulski said at a news conference.

Environmental technology is broadly defined as any product that helps clean up pollution, or that is cleaner or more energy-efficient than a traditional product -- such as an electric car or an energy-saving light bulb.

Several enviro-tech companies exhibited their wares at the news conference, including Energy Concepts Co. of Annapolis, which makes solar-powered ice makers for use in developing countries. Engineer Carl Erickson said Energy Concepts could provide refrigeration for billions of people if it could get funding to build more demonstration models, which cost $15,000 each.

"I support this legislation . . . for the simple reason that it creates jobs today and jobs tomorrow," Ms. Mikulski said. "I want the United States to be the Jolly Green Giant of the 21st century."

The global market for environmental technologies, currently $200 billion annually, is expected to reach $300 billion by 2000, the senators said. Maryland is home to about 490 businesses that deal with environmental issues or product development, according to Ms. Mikulski's office.

Under the National Environmental Technology Act, the federal government would help coordinate, finance and market -- both nationally and internationally -- emerging environmental technologies. In some cases the Environmental Protection Agency would form partnerships with private companies.

The bill calls for a new White House office to coordinate a national enviro-tech development strategy among the 10 federal agencies that spend $4 billion annually on green technology.

The bill also would establish a National Environmental Technologies Institute at the EPA, which would form partnerships with private companies to develop "critical technologies."

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