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Seven Energy Policies BPC Would Like to See Advanced under Senate Energy Committee Chair Mary Landrieu

By David Rosner

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

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Last month, United States Senator Mary Landrieu (D- LA) became the chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. The committee’s jurisdiction spans the gamut of key issues, including national energy policy, international energy affairs, emergency preparedness, nuclear waste policy, privatization of federal assets and territorial policy among others.

The Bipartisan Policy Center’s (BPC) Energy Project hopes that the committee will include the following items on its agenda this Congress. We see these as opportunities for the committee to capitalize on its new leadership and to forge bipartisan solutions to the nation’s pressing energy problems.

  • Address energy system cybersecurity—Priorities should include encouraging stronger protections for the electric grid; improving coordination between federal, state, and North American counterparts; improving information sharing between government and industry; and ensuring robust protocols for response and recovery in the event of a successful attack.
  • Rethink the country’s geopolitical posture in light of the boom in unconventional oil and natural gas production—U.S. policy has operated under an assumption of energy scarcity for the past three decades. Today, the rules of U.S. diplomacy and energy policy must be rewritten for a future less dependent on foreign oil, with significant implications for the country’s strategic posture and relationships with trading partners and allies alike.
  • Advance energy efficiency measures—We continue to believe that a balanced and bipartisan package of measures that increases U.S. energy supplies and ensures the efficient use of these valuable resources is the key to a more secure and prosperous future. Using energy more efficiently ensures that Americans get more for less. In other words, for a given input of energy, consumers receive more services and industry produces more products.
  • Work to solve the nation’s nuclear waste challenges—Expand the national and regional conversation on nuclear waste and develop policy options that ultimately could lead to an implementable nuclear waste strategy.
  • Support authorizations for federal energy R&D programs—Secure American competitiveness by returning to the doubling path for federal investments as envisioned in the bipartisan America COMPETES Act.
  • Mitigate electric grid siting challenges—Congress should enact a new, targeted backstop siting authority that allows the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to issue a federal permit approving high-voltage, multistate transmission projects under certain conditions.
  • Pursue policies to diversify the U.S. transportation sector—The most direct way to insulate the U.S. economy from oil price shocks is to reduce overall oil demand through efforts that include greater fuel diversity, and improvements to the efficiency of our nation’s transportation sector.

The BPC’s Energy Project looks forward to working with the Senate Energy Committee and Congress on these important energy issues.