Group Releases Open Letter to American People on “New Era for US Energy Security” and Background Paper on US Oil Dependence
Washington, DC – At an event today in Washington, former Senators Trent Lott (R-MS) and Byron Dorgan (D-ND), General Jim Jones (ret.) and Oil Spill Commission Co-chair William K. Reilly announced they will lead the new Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) Energy Project with a focus on key national energy policy issues, including energy security, supply, reliability, cost and sustainability. Senators Lott and Dorgan will be Co-Chairmen of the new project. General Jones, former National Security Advisor to President Obama, will serve as National Security Chair, and Mr. Reilly, a former EPA Administrator under President George H.W. Bush, will serve as Energy and Environment Chair.
The group today also released an Open Letter to the American People and America’s Leaders: A New Era for U.S. Energy Security. In the Open Letter, the leaders noted:
“Recent events in the Middle East, North Africa, Japan, and the Gulf of Mexico have made clear that America today faces new energy challenges. Widespread unrest in the Middle East has precipitated another sharp rise in global oil prices. The East Coast is again closed to offshore oil production, and the nuclear crisis in Japan raises a series of near and longer term questions with global security implications…In our view, these recent events, challenges, and past failures, demand a fundamental reassessment of America’s energy policy goals, decision-making structures, and policies—a reevaluation that places energy security at the very center of energy policy. “
Without question, our economy—in fact our way of life—is highly dependent on access to stable, affordable supplies of energy. In response to the crises of the 1970s, the United States adopted policy changes that cut the oil intensity of the U.S. economy in half and reorganized government priorities and structures to address the new reality. While some energy goals were achieved, many were not. Since that time, energy policy has stumbled, marked by uncertain goals and shifting priorities, an inability to measure the impact of our choices, and a stark lack of accountability across the government. Without a clear strategy to tackle these problems, our economy will continue to be threatened by events over which we have little to no control.
Undefined political terminology colors and distorts our national discourse on energy security. Terms such as “energy independence” and “oil addiction” are frequently used without any clear, defined meaning. Goals such “reducing oil imports from the volatile Middle East” ignore the reality that oil is a global commodity—supply disruptions and price shocks in any part of the world will drive up the price of oil in the U.S. and harm our economy. Such vague terms and undefined goals capture the public’s sense of insecurity but offer little direction in our pursuit of improved security.
In the letter, the group urged Congress and the Administration to:
- Initiate an active and public process to identify a small number of specific, credible, actionable energy security goals, including a gradual but steady reduction in the oil intensity of the U.S. economy to protect against recession;
- Develop detailed, clear, and rigorous metrics to measure our energy and economic security;
- Create accountability within government for ensuring these goals are met.
Also released today by the group was a BPC Staff Background paper, “Energy Security: Goals, Metrics and Accountability”.
The BPC Energy Project Chairmen noted that they will meet with leaders from government, industry and others over the coming weeks to develop a detailed policy agenda focused on near-term legislative opportunities and long-term policy impacts. Areas of initial focus will include domestic oil and natural gas production, an examination of energy subsidies, clean energy financing, power sector emissions and reliability, and efforts to reduce US oil intensity.
The Chairmen announced that the project will add a bipartisan group of 10 to 12 additional members, to be named within weeks, from the highest ranks of industry and energy policy experts. The BPC Energy Project will issue periodic reports on key issues over 2011 and 2012 relevant to near- and long-term policy, to be conducted both by full Project Leadership and by smaller Task Forces and Project members. In December 2012, the group will issue a report on “Energy Opportunities for the President and New Congress.”
“Just as we effectively responded to the challenges of the Cold War, the space race, globalization and terrorism, so too we must unify as a nation in a bipartisan manner around this new era in energy security,” the group said in its letter. “We look forward to working with our government and our nation’s great resource of scientists, engineers, business leaders and indeed all citizens, to rededicate the nation to addressing this critical challenge.”
BPC Staff Background paper: “Energy Security: Goals, Metrics and Accountability”