The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Choosing Energy Policies for the ‘Architecture of Abundance’

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted July 15, 2014

Three keys to a true, all-of-the-above energy policy: increasing access to U.S. energy reserves, implementing sound regulatory policies and creating an environment that fosters investment in energy innovation and development.

Government has an important role to play in all three. While it can’t create an energy revolution like the one occurring in the United States today, it can help sustain and grow it. Unfortunately, government also can hinder it – with limited vision, misplaced priorities and poor policy choices.

Thus, “architecture of energy abundance” remarks by U.S. Rep. Fred Upton at this week’s U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) energy conference are especially timely:

“We’ve got more energy than any other nation, according to EIA, and we produced enough energy in 2013 to meet 84 percent of our country’s demand – a remarkable turnaround from 2005 when we hit a low of just 65 percent. … It’s a new era of energy abundance and we need to build on it for a new era in energy policy. I call it the architecture of abundance. We need to construct a whole range of tools to take advantage of our energy abundance. We need to do better to connect the resources to the people, and we need to do it in a safe and responsible way that protects the environment. It’s about building infrastructure, but it’s even about a lot more.”

Upton was there to talk about the federal role in this new era of energy abundance that has seen the U.S. overtake Saudi Arabia and Russia in oil production in the first quarter of this year – with daily output exceeding 11 million barrels, according to Bank of America Corp. His five policy “pillars” supporting an energy abundance scenario:

  • Modernization of the U.S. energy transmission and distribution system, with targeted changes to federal laws to ensure certainty, predictability and fairness. “In other words, we’ll take politics and obstruction out of siting new energy infrastructure and bring back accountability to pipeline permitting agencies,” he said.
  • Building a diverse electrical generation system.
  • Implementing sound regulatory and permitting policies for energy and manufacturing projects, to ensure that investments are made in this country.
  • Prioritizing energy efficiency legislation, but also updating federal laws that no longer “reflect today’s energy abundance.” His specific example: the Renewable Fuel Standard.
  • Harnessing U.S. energy as a foreign policy instrument.

Upton:

“Let’s face it. Energy is a global commodity, and those that have the energy have the power. We’re seeing this play out in real time with Russia, and we’ve seen that chaos in the Middle East affects us here at home. We have an opportunity to use our energy as a diplomatic tool. We can take care of our domestic needs and have enough energy to let our allies buy it from us rather than being held hostage to unstable regions of the world. And by the way it adds tens, if not hundreds of thousands of jobs.”

Upton presents a vision for federal energy policy that comports with our new energy abundance. The United States has the energy reserves, the technology, the professional know-how and the field experience to fill the role of energy superpower – developing more of the energy we need here at home, benefiting friends abroad and creating greater stability across global energy markets.

This is the essence of energy security – sustainable energy to run our economy, to make individual lives better and our nation more secure. But it requires the right approach by government, the right policy choices. API President and CEO Jack Gerard last month:

“Turn our people loose, let our people compete. We can meet the environmental standards, we can meet the permitting processes, but quit creating artificial delays and chilling effects on this process. … This is an American opportunity, a unique American opportunity. It’s not about Democrats, it’s not about Republicans. We need to get over those messages of the past, the somehow perceived view that these issues are polarizing. … We need as a country to come together under this new opportunity, driven primarily by these technological advances and seize the moment.”

Upton:

“America has a lot to gain if we put the right energy policy in place, that’s for sure: jobs and economic growth, cheaper energy and products for the Middle Class, particularly for the most vulnerable – those that are least able to afford higher energy costs – and a stronger position in the world. … Ingenuity, innovation and technology have unlocked these resources, but we need infrastructure, regulatory structure, certainty and a global vision to take full advantage of it.” 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.