Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Bipartisan Policy Center Makes 50+ Energy Policy Recommendations

Feb 27: The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) unveiled a report at the National Press Club  -- America's Energy Resurgence: Sustaining Success, Confronting Challenges -- which includes over 50 energy policy recommendations developed by its Strategic Energy Policy Initiative, which is co-chaired by former Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS), General James Jones USMC (Ret.) and former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator William Reilly. Together, they led a diverse group of key stakeholders, including high-level industry executives, scientists, economists, environmental advocates, labor leaders and former government and elected officials through a lengthy, deliberative process.

    The group notes that the nation is undergoing an energy resurgence -- both in energy production and energy efficiency -- many energy challenges remain that demand high-level bipartisan attention. Over the last year and a half the group has been deliberating on policy options to diversify energy production, improve energy productivity through cost-effective energy efficiency, accelerate innovation and technology improvements, and improve energy policy governance and accountability. The consensus-based recommendations are aimed at all relevant policymakers -- state governments, Congress, Executive Branch agencies and local utilities.

    Former EPA Administrator Reilly said, "Our country faces great challenges in ensuring safe, reliable, affordable energy to power our economy and meet the needs of our citizens. At the same time, we have tremendous opportunities to improve the way we secure energy supplies and how we use them in transportation, buildings, and commerce. We need to exploit those opportunities and we need to ensure that energy policy is well integrated with environmental policy. Both are essential for the country's long-term well being." Former Sen. Dorgan said, "Our country is in a very different position in terms of energy supply than it was just a few years ago, and my home state's economy is flourishing as a result. We must use this era of energy abundance as the ideal time for driving a diversity of policies that can serve as a buffer in more difficult times."

    BPC President Jason Grumet said, "This report is proof that people with strong differences can develop a consensus plan to advance national energy policy. While Congress is not in a particularly collaborative mood, energy policy has often been a source of bipartisan agreement. Recent achievements in production, efficiency, and advanced technologies create an opportunity for Congress to legislate from a position of national strength. These detailed recommendations are designed to provide impetus for a serious legislative effort."

    The report indicates that the U.S. energy system should provide "affordable, secure, and reliable supplies of energy and strive for continuous improvement in environmental performance." The report outlines four overriding objectives to achieve the recommendations including: 1. Pursue a diverse portfolio of energy resources; 2. Improve the energy productivity of the economy; 3. Accelerate innovation and technology improvements across the energy sector; and 4. Improve energy policy governance and accountability.
    Under the diverse portfolio, the report calls for: • Expanding production of domestic oil and gas resources while improving the environmental performance of shale oil and gas development; • Supporting investments in carbon capture and storage demonstration projects; • Addressing barriers to maintaining a strong nuclear energy sector; • Encouraging renewable energy production and consumption through streamlined siting on federal lands, extended tax incentives, and increased Department of Defense (DOD) procurement; • Supporting alternative transportation fuels through local, state, and federal infrastructure investments and DOD procurement; • Evaluating training needs for a skilled and technical energy workforce and facilitating multi-stakeholder energy-sector training programs; • Avoiding restrictions on international trade of energy, in keeping with the nation's traditional commitment to free trade; and • Reviewing the full range of energy tax expenditures and developing a reasonable phase-out plan for those tax expenditures that constitute subsides for mature fuels and technologies.
    In the policy and governance area, the report recommends: Developing a high-level National Energy Strategy, through a new National Energy Security Council, and conducting a companion Quadrennial Energy Review; and Pairing the Strategy with a well-coordinated implementation plan that can respond to often unpredictable economic, political, and technological conditions and regularly tracking and reporting progress.
    In a lengthy blog posting, Frances Beinecke, President of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) said the report "misses the mark in a number of significant ways. It fails to address the urgent need for policies to combat climate change and proposes a significant expansion of fossil fuel extraction in the United States." NRDC's Ralph Cavanagh, was a member of the BPC Energy Board that produced the report, but Beinecke indicates that, "Board members serve in their personal capacity, not as representatives of their companies or organizations. And as noted in the report's introduction, signing the report does not indicate agreement with all of the report's recommendations." She said both Cavanaugh and NRDC disagree with the report's conclusions and recommendations on "dirty energy development."
    NRDC said the report is off-base in its "embrace of vastly expanded oil and gas production"; failure to discuss "the toll oil and gas development takes on our shared public lands"; a "skewed approach to offshore drilling"; and its allegation that seismic exploration mitigation measures for Atlantic drilling are "too expensive and potentially impossible to conduct." But, NRDC indicates that "the report does provide a strong plan for how to expand America's cleanest and safest energy resources: efficiency and renewables."
    NRDC also emphasizes that, ". . .perhaps most interesting, given recent political fights, the report also calls for extending the renewable energy production tax credit (now set to expire in 2013) through the end of 2016, while calling for a phase-out of all federal tax subsidies for mature energy technologies (including longtime fossil fuel beneficiaries). That's an important twin policy goal that will advance our growing clean energy sector." NRDC concludes that while it "does not consider this report, as a whole, to be a blueprint for how our nation can curb carbon emissions and build a stronger, more sustainable energy future, we welcome the strides made in reaching a bipartisan consensus on efficiency, renewables, and other innovations. It's those clean energy proposals that we can and will support."
     Other members on the BPC Energy Board included high-ranking representative from: Marathon Oil Corporation; Exxon Mobil Corporation; Honeywell International, Inc.; Booz Allen Hamilton; Anadarko Petroleum Corporation; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; Exelon Corporation; Arkansas Public Service Commission; Sandia National Laboratories; DuPont; American Council on Renewable Energy; BNSF Railway Company; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Southern Company Services, Inc.; and Analysis Group (and Former Assistant Secretary for Policy, U.S. Department of Energy).

    Access a release from the BPC (click here). Access a report overview and link to the complete 188-page report and a 5-page summary (click here). Access a video of the report release event at the National Press Club (click here). Access the Strategic Energy Policy Initiative website for additional information (click here). Access the complete NRDC blog posting (click here). [#Energy]

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