Energy Policy: What’s Next? (4/5/11)
Energy Policy: What’s Next?
T.J. Glauthier, Former Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy
James Sweeney, Director, Precourt Energy Efficiency Center, Stanford
Tony Knowles, Chair, National Energy Policy Institute; Former Governor, Alaska
The United States does not have a national energy policy. In this panel convened by Climate One three experts long involved in the US energy debate conspire to shape their own. The plan: steadily increasing the cost of gasoline at the pump, replace diesel with liquefied natural gas for heavy trucking, harvest cost-effective energy efficiency opportunities, and boost the production of shale gas.“These are not new issues,” says former Alaska Governor Tony Knowles. “Unfortunately, I think Tom Friedman said it best: ‘Our national energy policy is more the sum total of our best lobbyists, rather than our best wisdom.’”
Politics, not science or economics, has shaped our energy policy, Knowles says. A proposal recently put forward by the California Secure Transportation Energy Partnership, where Stanford University’s Jim Sweeney is a member, would add a penny per month to the state’s gas tax for 10 years. Tony Knowles cited a similar proposal recommended by the National Energy Policy Institute, which would increase the federal gas tax by $0.08 per gallon each year for 20 years with the goal of reducing oil consumption by 1.5 million barrels per day. Knowles and T.J. Glauthier, a former Deputy Secretary at the US Department of Energy, advocate for retrofitting the country’s heavy trucking fleet to run on domestic liquefied natural gas (LNG). “We’ve got truck stops all over the country. If we spent some money helping build out the natural gas refueling parts of those truck stops, and provide some help to trucking companies for the conversions, there’s a huge benefit,” says Glauthier. Jim Sweeney, Director of Stanford’s Precourt Energy Efficiency Center, emphasizes the abundant opportunity that exists for consumers to save money with energy efficiency improvements. We just have to get the incentives right. “People talk about those as the ‘low-hanging fruit.’ Unfortunately, some of that fruit has been low-hanging for decades now and hasn’t been picked, which means there’s a reason,” he says. Knowles and Glauthier also recommend that shale gas be a part of the energy mix. “It’s great for the American public, it’s great for the energy sector, to have natural gas supplies that are much larger, and they’re all domestic,” says Glauthier.
This program was recorded in front of a live audience at the Commonwealth Club of California, San Francisco on April 5th, 2011