Bioenergy, Geothermal, Hydropower, Solar, Wind Power

Secretary Bodman Outlines Energy Objectives

Samual Bodman, the U.S. Department of Energy’s new Secretary of Energy, has offered relatively few public remarks on his goals, even though high gas prices and a renewed Congressional push for an energy bill have put energy issues front and center. At a meeting of the International Energy Agency (IEA) earlier this month in Paris, Bodman delivered a speech outlining some of his policy platforms. Not surprisingly, renewable energy received only a scant mention while more controversial “clean coal” and nuclear technologies received a strong emphasis.

The following is the text of Bodman’s remarks: All of us recognize that satisfying our growing energy needs represents a global challenge. I believe we can meet that challenge by working in concert to expand energy diversity, increase efficiency and conservation efforts, enhance and upgrade our energy infrastructure, develop new and existing energy supplies, and promote free and fair commerce. Each of these avenues will require, in varying degrees, substantial capital investment. Let me touch on a few areas that I think we should consider in our discussions today. First, I think it is fair to say that energy security no longer means quite the same thing as it did when the IEA was founded in 1974. Certainly, maintaining a substantial emergency oil reserve remains an important goal. But the investments we make today in our future energy security should look not only to traditional hydrocarbons, but toward a whole range of energy sources, including hydrogen, nuclear, and renewable sources. For investment in any part of the energy sector to be successful over the long term, we must also foster an attractive investment climate that respects the rule of law, honors contracts, and provides regulatory certainty. Let me emphasize that these conditions apply to all of us, and are not just themes with which to lecture the developing world. My own nation is faced with growing demand for electricity and extremely tight oil refining capacity. Neither of these problems is new or unexpected. Yet the United States has not built a new nuclear power plant or a new oil refinery in decades — in large part because new investments have been discouraged by regulatory uncertainty and other barriers. Last week, President Bush announced measures our Administration is taking to address these issues, but there is still much work to be done. Finally, our understanding of how our energy use affects the environment is a subject that has become very prominent and is likely to remain so. Because energy investments tend to be so capital intensive, and new energy projects tend to be so large and long-lasting, we need to think about how our investments today will impact the world decades from now. Developing nations building new infrastructure, as well as industrialized countries which are replacing and upgrading their infrastructure, should think about utilizing the latest technologies with the best environmental performance. In the transportation sector, we can mitigate the side effects of petroleum-based fuel with new clean diesel and hybrid vehicles. We can build electricity grids of the twenty-first century with better technology, such as superconductive wires. And instead of the conventional coal-burning technologies, we can focus on developing and building state-of-art clean coal power generators that emit no pollutants or greenhouse gases. Clean coal technologies, along with nuclear power, have great potential for meeting the global energy demand, particularly among the growing Asian economies. These are a few of the priorities that I see, and that President Bush is pursuing with his energy policy for the United States. Of course, there are many challenges we face, and other viewpoints and suggestions will emerge in our discussions. But I think we would all agree that everyone has an important role to play.