A major energy association in the United States says that a national energy strategy should invest in alternative energy sources that can realistically expect to have a significant impact in meeting U.S. energy needs over the next 20 to 30 years.
WASHINGTON, DC – The United States Energy Association (USEA) recommends that a policy enhance energy supplies; encourage energy efficiency and affordable prices; stimulate global energy trade and development; promote energy technology development and long-range R&D initiatives; balance energy use and environmental concerns; and unify the energy policy process. Its report, ‘Toward a National Energy Strategy,’ claims its recommendations will assure that consumers can benefit from an increased supply of affordable energy resources that are available in a ready, reliable and environmentally responsible manner. “Such an energy policy must meet several challenges, including overly burdensome environmental regulations that prevent access to new energy sources; the adverse national security implications of rising oil imports; an energy delivery infrastructure that is aging and increasingly overwhelmed by growing demand; a regulatory process that is often unfair and counter-productive; and a lack of foresight in developing new, more efficient energy technologies and alternative energy sources,” says USEA’s Richard Lawson. “Economic efficiency, energy security, energy technology and regulation and incentives are the four core principles we believe a sound national energy strategy should be anchored by,” adds Barry Worthington, executive director of the group. He says that, in many markets, increased demand outstrips reliable supplies. Environmental regulations have grown increasingly costly and complex, and consumers often express confusion at the array of energy choices now available, he explains. In addition, energy companies confront both greater competition and increasing regulatory uncertainty can heavily penalize those companies that expand production to meet the increased energy demands of a growing population and economy. Energy groups that prepared the report include the American Gas Association, American Petroleum Institute, American Public Power Association, Edison Electric Institute, Electric Power Research Institute, National Mining Association, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, and Nuclear Energy Institute. The federal government must open more land to oil and gas drilling, improve the electricity grid and ease environmental regulations to fuel the U.S. economy with a steady source of energy, says the report. To increase domestic energy supplies, environmental policies should be relaxed to give oil companies drilling access to more federal lands and the groups endorse drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a proposal backed by the Bush administration. The report warns that government should not depend on a single energy source but promote a diverse energy portfolio made up of fossil fuels, nuclear and renewable sources. “The members of the United States Energy Association are united in our belief that the time has come to develop a national energy strategy that meets these challenges and also tackles head on the many other critical energy choices we must make,” it states. “We have outlined a strategy that will increase the supply of affordable energy and deliver it to the American consumer in a safe, reliable and environmentally responsible manner.” “The nation should encourage energy supply expansion with policies that fully recognize no single source can meet our growing energy needs,” says the first recommendation. “Tax reform should be enacted to spur capital investment in reliable, affordable and environmentally effective energy technologies and supporting infrastructure,” reads another. Governmental policies should promote energy efficiency, and there should be free and competitive markets regarding pricing, technology deployment, energy efficiency, and selection of fuels and energy suppliers. U.S. leadership in energy development, services and technology should be promoted on a global basis, and “investment in energy technology research and development should focus on energy sources that can realistically expect to have a significant impact in meeting U.S. energy needs over the next 20 to 30 years.” Government-sponsored education programs should emphasize the importance of energy infrastructure and energy sources as essential to continued economic security and development, and government programs intended to advance environmental technologies should measure environmental performance and be available to any energy source that achieves environmental goals rather than favoring selective fuels or technologies, say other recommendations. USEA is the U.S. member committee of the World Energy Council.