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Politics, World Economics Amp UWs 2008 Consumer Issues Conference

September 15, 2008
Woman smiling
New York Times Reporter Felicity Barringer.

Energy and telecommunication issues will be the focus of the 2008 Consumer Issues Conference Sept. 25-26 at the University of Wyoming.

More information about the conference is at There are more than 14 presentations within four breakout sessions related to energy and telecommunication issues Thursday, Sept. 25, and a day of energy-related tours Friday,Sept. 26. Telecommunications issues include cable television, cell phone markets and "do not call" lists, says conference organizer Dee Pridgen, professor and associate dean of the UW College of Law.

"The shooting up of gas prices over the summer and projected increase in cost for natural gas for heating this winter have made these topics even more relevant than we realized when planning a year ago," says Pridgen.

"Although there have been a number of energy conferences recently, this one is unique in that it takes the consumer perspective and provides opportunities for attendees from various perspectives -- consumers, researchers, policymakers and business -- to discuss alternatives to addressing the challenges we are facing," says Virginia Vincenti, professor of family and consumer sciences in the College of Agriculture and a conference organizer.

"What would a green economy look like?" is the topic of keynote speaker Felicity Barringer, a reporter for The New York Times. Barringer was appointed national correspondent for the environment for The New York Times in September 2003. Previously, she had been United Nations bureau chief since February 2003 and a media reporter at The New York Times since April 1998.

Planners don't foresee a topic of their conference -- high gasoline prices -- reducing the numbers attending. Vincenti pointed out the conference Web site also offers a means of coordinating vehicle travel through the Ride Board.

For activities after the first day , attendees are invited to consider attending a discussion with novelist and human rights activist Salman Rushdie, author of "Satanic Verses." He will speak and answer audience questions in the UW College of Arts and Sciences auditorium at 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 25. This free event is sponsored by the UW Department of English.

A choice of energy tours is available Friday. They include a tour of the UW Indoor Practice Facility to view its sustainable features including south-facing orientation and solar panels; a tour of the Happy Jack Wind Farm and a tour inside one of the turbines; a hybrid straw bale home that uses solar panels with radiant floor heat, bamboo floors, captured rainwater and snowmelt systems; and participation in a residential home energy audit in Laramie.

Separate registration is required for the tours, which include lunch and transportation.

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