GRAND RAPIDS—President Gerald R. Ford's son, Steve Ford, will be in Grand Rapids on Tuesday to help his father's former energy czar kick off the "Gerald R. Ford Energy Lecture Series" at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.
Frank G. Zarb, President Ford's Assistant to the President for Energy Affairs, will speak at a 7:30 p.m. public event, which is presented by the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation and the Varnum law firm.
During his presidency, Ford signed legislation that established the framework for a national energy policy and alternative energy research. Triggered by the aftermath of the 1973 oil embargo, the importance for the United States to develop a national energy policy became clear to President Ford. He selected Zarb to serve as his energy adviser and Zarb later became known as the "Energy Czar."
"Looking back on the development or U.S. energy policy, President Ford clearly started the alternative-energy ball rolling," said Bruce Goodman, alternative energy practice group leader at Varnum. "His response to the oil embargo and gasoline crisis led him to a prescient focus on renewable and sustainable energy. We are now benefiting from what he put in motion."
Under Zarb's counsel and Ford's leadership, the Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA) was established and was followed by a series of ambitious acts, including the Solar Heating and Cooling Act of 1974, the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974 and the 1975 Energy Policy and Conservation Act.
"Shortly after Dad's death, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, in an op-ed entitled 'The First Energy President,' praised the energy initiatives of Dad's Administration," said Susan Ford Bales, Gerald R. Ford's daughter. "Friedman concluded that those initiatives and their blueprint for America's energy independence were 'way ahead of their time.' The visionary architect of those policies was Frank Zarb, Dad's 'Energy Czar'."
After serving in the Ford Administration, Zarb filled various roles under the Reagan, Bush and Clinton administrations. He's also held numerous economic and public service positions, including Chairman and CEO of the NASD, Chairman and CEO of NASDAQ Stock Market Inc., and Chairman of tje Long Island Power Authority. Currently Zarb is a Senior Adviser with Hellman & Friedman LLC, a non-Executive Chairman of Promontory Financial Group and is an Executive in Residence at Columbia University.
"In addition to being one of Dad's most trusted advisers, Frank's numerous accomplishments in the private sector and his public policy work since his service in the Ford Administration are extraordinary," Bales said. "Frank remains one of the foremost experts on energy policy. His most recent insights and policy proposals are as significant today as those he developed for Dad nearly four decades ago."
Alternative energy development and energy issues have resurfaced as a major national and international issues. The Gerald R. Ford Energy Lecture Series will address where America is 34 years later by providing various historical and current perspectives on U.S. alternative energy policies.
Admission will be free and open to the public, but due to limited seating guests are requested to RSVP to the Foundation by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (616) 254-0393.