Wednesday, February 14, 2007

NAM Unveils Energy Security For American Competitiveness Plan

Feb 14: The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) unveiled what they say is a comprehensive, forward-looking energy strategy, Energy Security for American Competitiveness, designed to diversify the nation's energy mix and lay a foundation for meeting the nation's energy needs in the future. NAM President John Engler said, "Our economy and way of life are dependent on reliable and affordable energy. We cannot rely on the future to take care of itself -- we must be proactive and we must be vigilant in creating an energy policy to keep America strong and working. Many dream of energy security, but the NAM's strategy lays a solid foundation to make that dream a reality. Nothing short of a robust, aggressive, and comprehensive energy strategy will adequately address our energy security needs."

The NAM energy strategy proposal provides "a blueprint of action items for the Congress" that: Set goals for U.S. energy efficiency; Raises energy intelligence of the American public; Strengthens research and development projects; Streamlines existing statutes and regulations; Increases our nation's electricity generation; and, Diversifies and increases domestic energy supply.

NAM said that according to the Energy Information Administration, U.S. energy production will increase by 27 percent over the next 25 years. However, they said energy consumption is forecast to grow by 34 percent during that time -- leaving the United States more dependent on energy imports and vulnerable to higher energy prices. Engler said, "Higher energy prices hurt manufacturing especially hard because manufacturing is heavily dependent on energy. But it also hurts those with the most to lose -- senior citizens, small businesses, and families. No one can escape the resounding effects of high energy costs -- from the cost of filling up the family vehicle, to rising prices at your local grocery store, to the loss of good paying American jobs, or the rising cost squeeze in family budgets."

Engler said a critical component of increasing energy security is raising the "energy intelligence" of Americans through education, internships, and research programs. The NAM strategy also calls for more research and development into new energy programs and efficiencies.

Some details of the plan call for: establishing a national voluntary goal of decreasing the "energy intensity" of the US economy by 2.5 percent per year – an increase of more than 30% over recent historical averages; expanded use of carbon sequestration technology; promoting the use of FutureGen power plant technology, which removes all pollutants from the burning of coal and captures CO2, allowing for its injection into the sea or ground; a national Energy Efficiency Improvement Loan program providing at least $1.5 billion per year for 4 years split between residential, commercial and industrial activities; promoting Combined Heat and Power (CHP), Distributed Generation (DG) technologies; and enhancing nuclear’s role in our energy future with several program including dealing with the impasses over a permanent nuclear waste repository by authorizing interim storage of spent fuel at existing DOE facilities and other sites.

The Plan also calls for expanding legally accessible production areas into the Arctic Natural Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and offshore, especially onto the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS); promotion of biofuels and other renewable energy sources including waste-to-energy products to increase domestic supplies and fuel diversity; and incorporating the Clear Skies Act of 2005 (S. 131) as introduced by Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) on January 23, 2005 and include an opt-in for manufacturers in a market-oriented, cap-and-trade program.

Engler said, "A healthy economy and a healthy energy policy go hand in hand. When we talk energy, we talk about our economy. We have to be smarter about the choices we make, think beyond the near-term, and invest in our energy future. As Congress struggles with these issues, the NAM provides a clear checklist of what must be done to ensure affordable supplies, future development and greater efficiency. Our nation's energy security will be a deciding factor in the elections of 2008."

Access a release from NAM (click here). Access a 14-page white paper on the plan (click here). Access a fact sheet on the plan (click here). Access links to additional information on the plan (click here). [*Energy]