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Trent Lott and Byron Dorgan: Energy policy shifts needed to respond to changing landscape

The Hill

Monday, July 27, 2015

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The Energy Policy Act (EPACT) of 2005, was adopted by the Congress 10 years ago with overwhelming bipartisan support. While we are both proud of having played some role in that successful effort, we also recognize how much the world has changed in the last decade and that many of the core assumptions Congress relied upon in passing this legislation are outdated. It is time for Congress to roll up its sleeves and take a new look at our nation’s transformed energy system. We applaud Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) for rising to this challenge and crafting legislation that responds to the profound changes that have occurred in our nation’s energy landscape.

Through a combination of technological achievements that have increased our energy production and reduced our energy use, our nation has been catapulted from energy weakness and scarcity to a posture of growing security and abundance. While we were debating the 2005 legislation, the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicted that the United States would experience a substantial increase in coal consumption, a continued reduction in domestic crude oil production, and increasing imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG). As it turns out, these assumptions were only off by 180 degrees. Today, we are experiencing a substantial decline in U.S. coal, and LNG terminals designed to import foreign product are being reengineered to export surplus U.S. natural gas.

While the outlook is bright, substantial challenges remain: monthly energy bills still pose an unacceptable economic burden for many households and businesses; the oil and gas boom has created new environmental challenges; the electric grid is aging, vulnerable and ill-equipped to fully integrate renewable and distributed energy sources; public research and development (R&D) in energy is inadequate and must be overhauled to maintain our nation’s competitive edge as a global innovator; and energy market volatility and energy cyber security remain largely unaddressed.

KEYWORDS: LNG EXPORTS, SENATE ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE, ARPA-E, LISA MURKOWSKI, LIQUEFIED NATURAL GAS, BPC OP-EDS, MARIA CANTWELL, ENERGY POLICY ACT OF 2005