Recently, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released its prescription for U.S. energy policy.
“Facing Our Energy Realities: A Plan to Fuel Our Recovery” is a more balanced document than what I might have expected. Given the Chamber’s ardent undercutting of all efforts to deal with climate change in a thoughtful manner during the last Congress — see, for instance, this Washington Post article from late 2009 profiling how Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) decided to leave the Chamber due to its strident positions — I was prepared to title this post “Chamber of Horrors”, expecting the Chamber to call for continued status quo on energy, only perhaps a little better.
The outline of their recommendations is as follows:
I. Maximize America’s Own Energy Resources: Promote Energy Efficiency. Produce More Domestic Energy. Improve Access to Federal Lands. Allow Development of New Resources.
II. Make New and Clean Energy Technologies More Affordable: Commit to Innovation. Demonstrate New Technologies.
III. Eliminate Regulatory Barriers Derailing Energy Projects: Create A Predictable Regulatory Environment. Streamline, Not Weaken, Environmental Reviews. Prioritize Siting and Permitting of Interstate Transmission.
IV. Do Not Put America’s Existing Energy Sources Out of Business: Ensure Adequate Supplies of Energy for a Smooth Transition.
V. Encourage Free and Fair Trade of Energy Technologies and Resources Globally: Promote Free Trade. Eliminate Trade Barriers. End Discriminatory Content and Trade Policies.
To be sure, the primary message of the Chamber in this pamphlet is “more”: especially, more production of fossil fuel based energy from domestic sources. And, to be sure, this stance is being greatly enabled by the recent promise of a surge in natural gas available by producing from heretofore uneconomic shale plays due to advancements in new drilling/extraction technologies.
I have nothing against producing more natural gas domestically, particularly if it can be economically used to displace more environmentally-damaging coal-based energy or strategically-damaging petroleum-based energy. However, we can’t put all our eggs in the natural gas basket — if for no other reason than we’ll end up painted in a corner someday from over-reliance on gas, just as we’re painted in a corner now from over-reliance on coal and oil.
I’m glad to see that the Chamber has made some room and recognition available for energy efficiency and renewables (e.g., by supporting the suggestion of a Clean Energy Bank) in its public platforms, but the Chamber is clearly full of gas.