Energy executives discuss climate change, other issues at roundtable

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 1,016 views 

Left to right: Bill Hanna, Peter Nierengarten, and Katie Niebaum.

Climate change is not a political issue. It’s a fact.

That’s according to Bill Hanna, president, CEO and chairman of Fort Smith-based Hannah Oil & Gas. Hanna was one of three Arkansas executives who gathered recently for a roundtable discussion in the Firmin-Garner Performance Studio at Fayetteville radio station KUAF 91.3 FM.

Joining Hanna to also offer their analysis on the state of the energy industry were Katie Niebaum, executive director of the Arkansas Advanced Energy Association in Little Rock, and Peter Nierengarten, sustainability director for the city of Fayetteville.

“It [climate change] needs to be recognized and responded to,” Hanna said. “And we’re no different. We look at natural gas as an abundant, cheap fuel. It is not the potential for future sustainability. It is, however, in front of us now as a good renewable. Not renewable, but a good resource to be used, and used responsibly.”

The city of Fayetteville is the first in Arkansas and one of about 50 in the U.S. to adopt a 100% clean energy plan. Nierengarten discussed working toward that goal.

“As I talk with my colleagues around the country, they’re doing the same type of work as I have,” he said. “A double-down, if you will, at the municipal level on taking action and making change where they see a gap or a lack of federal leadership on that initiative.”

Niebaum directs an organization that casts a wide net in the alternative energy space, from solar and wind and biofuels, to energy efficiency technologies, storage and electric vehicles.

“From our perspective, we’re looking to encourage initiatives and projects and policies that are going to help remove barriers and expand that advanced energy marketplace so that Arkansans can benefit from what’s growing to be low-cost energy options,” she said.

The three energy executives shared their thoughts on a number of additional topics. You can listen to their full conversation below.