May 24, 2007 3:05 PM PDT

Eyeing green tech, Rice tours Silicon Valley

PALO ALTO, CALIF.--U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with about two dozen technology leaders here Thursday in her adopted home town, but not before checking out Silicon Valley's hottest symbol of green-tech luxury, the Tesla Roadster.

Rice, who was a Stanford University political science professor and provost until 1999, was here on a two-day tour of Silicon Valley with Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer. Their visit included stops at Hewlett-Packard Labs and NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, and a luncheon with government trade officials and technology executives such as Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff and early Google investor Ram Shiram.

Rice said her visit was designed to help understand what's happening in the most exciting area of the country for technology innovation, with an eye toward maintaining America's global competitiveness.

"We've also been very interested in new technologies for the new green revolution," Rice said during a roundtable luncheon at the Four Seasons Hotel. Such technologies will eventually help "wean ourselves from hydrocarbons...and help us be good stewards of the environment," she said.

Her comments come at a time when the Bush administration is trying to bolster its image in support of the environment and related standards. The Supreme Court dealt the administration a blow last month by ruling the Environmental Protection Agency must consider regulating greenhouse gases in auto emissions under the Clean Air Act.

According to a representative from TechNet, the bipartisan tech policy group that organized and sponsored Rice's visit, the U.S. State Department requested the meeting and tour.

Rice's trip was billed as a "home visit," or what is essentially a coordinated diplomatic meeting with a trip to her old stomping grounds. Last year, for example, Rice traveled to her birth city of Birmingham, Ala., with U.K. Foreign Minister Jack Straw.

Rice met with a wide swath of tech executives and government officials to discuss how to work together on innovation. In a private luncheon, Rice talked with National Semiconductor CEO Brian Halla, Cisco Chief John Chambers, and venture capitalists Geoff Yang from Redpoint, Floyd Kvamme from Kleiner Perkins and Mark Zanoli of JP Morgan. Also at the roundtable was U.S. Trade Ambassador David Gross, who negotiates trade treaties for China.

"It's heartening to be here," she said in a brief speech, in a place "fueled not just by great ideas but also a willingness of the private industry to invest in new technologies."

Before the afternoon luncheon, Rice visited HP labs and Moffett Field to preview the $92,000 Tesla Roadster, an all-electric sports car expected to ship at the end of 2007. The Roadster, already presold to Silicon Valley luminaries like Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, can drive as far 200 miles on one charge.

"Condi and I enjoyed the sports car very much, even though we weren't able to drive it," Downer said.

It's technology like the Roadster, he added, that will get people excited about reducing their environmental footprint.

"Consumers are increasingly interested in clean air and reducing CO2 emissions. And if these environmental problems are going to be solved, it will be sold by technology," Downer said.

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6 comments

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Doesn't she have a real job?
We're at war in two countries, on the brink with a third, and our top-ranking diplomat is on a walk about through Silicon Valley?

On second though, please, please, stay in the valley, Condi. You'll screw up fewer things there.
Posted by Aeirlys (16 comments )
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Did she go check out the Ferragamos at Stanford Mall?
As SecState, she was too busy shoe-shopping in New York to
coordinate foreign aid in the aftermath of Katrina; just figured
she'd enjoy being back in her old stomping grounds at Stanford.
Posted by Hep Cat (440 comments )
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And from what I hear...
She was pretty much detested by everyone, everywhere she went.

She used to be a respected member of Stanford's faculty. I wonder
why no one likes her now?
Posted by Hep Cat (440 comments )
Link Flag
What Happened To Those Stiletto Boots?
Remeber when Condo first became Secretary and she wore those dominatrix boots? The press loved it and heralded it as a sign of a new "tough" leader. Of course, this whole thing was carefully orchestrated by the sizzle-not-steak Admin. NOTHING that this Admin does is accidental.
Posted by Stating (869 comments )
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With An Oil Tanker Named For Her...
It is so disengenuous for this school marm *** Secretary to be spouting diatribe about "weaning" off foreign oil when she has an oil tanker named in her honor. What will "wean" Americans off oil is $5 a gallon gasoline, and no jobs to pay for it because they have lost their jobs to China and the illegals. If you want to destroy a country, this woman and her boss have done a stellar job. I give her an A+.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2001/05/05/MN223743.DTL&#38;type=printable" target="_newWindow">http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2001/05/05/MN223743.DTL&#38;type=printable</a>
Leaving a wave of controversy in its wake, one of the most visible reminders of the Bush administration's ties to big oil - the 129,000-ton Chevron tanker Condoleezza Rice - has quietly been renamed, Chevron officials acknowledged yesterday.

"We made the change to eliminate the unnecessary attention caused by the vessel's original name," said Chevron spokesman Fred Gorell.
Posted by Stating (869 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It was disappointing to see
the GM (Saturn - EV) removed from the market. Perhaps the source of electricity always matters. RECONSIDER ALL DESIGNS !!
Posted by yehslaura (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
 

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