Deloitte: US needs 50-year energy strategy

A national energy council should be established in the US to develop a 50-year energy strategy, according to economist Joseph Stanislaw.

Paula Dittrick
Senior Staff Writer

HOUSTON, Dec. 16 -- A national energy council should be established in the US to develop a 50-year energy strategy, with the council developing benchmarks to monitor progress and making regular public reports, said economist Joseph Stanislaw.

In a proposal released Dec. 10 by Deloitte LLP at its annual energy conference, Stanislaw said the US must change the way it uses energy if the nation's citizens are to avoid being buffeted in the future by rising and falling energy costs.

"With the historic election of Barack Obama to president, our nation enjoys new opportunities to confront monumental challenges, especially the convergence of energy, climate change, and security," said Stanislaw.

The chief executive offer of JA Stanislaw Group and independent senior advisor to Deloitte, Stanislaw emphasized the difficulty of making and implementing energy choices.

During previous oil price shocks, presidents have pledged to develop an energy strategy to lessen US dependence on imported oil. Yet, US oil imports have continued to increase.

Stanislaw noted that if the US car fleet had the same average fuel economy as European cars, then the US would import about 3 million b/d less oil, making it less dependent upon oil-producing countries such as Venezuela.

Balancing energy, environment
The Deloitte conference included a panel discussion on the future of US energy policy that included among its panelists Guy F. Caruso, senior adviser for the Center for Strategic & International Studies.

Caruso said the upcoming Obama administration will be called upon to balance economic recovery with energy policy and environmental policy.

"These policy changes could have long-term impact," Caruso said. "Projected impacts of climate change and carbon constraints are potential game changers."

Other panelists were Michelle Michot Foss, University of Texas chief energy economist; and Vicky A. Bailey, president of Anderson Stratton International LLC energy management consultants.

Regarding the status of the global oil market, Caruso listed four key indicators to watch during 2009-12: oil demand in emerging economies, investments in productive capacity, investments in refining capacity, and financial investments in oil futures.

Caruso formerly worked for Paris-based International Energy Agency and for US Energy Information Administration. CSIS serves as a strategic planning partner for the government by conducting research and analysis and developing policy initiatives.

Bailey suggested that after Obama takes office, he might want to do some things quickly that do not involve getting into climate change policy, which is expected to involve lengthy discussions and congressional debate.

A former commissioner on the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Bailey suggested government might look at helping stimulate jobs in energy. She also advocated an educational focus on engineering and science.

Stanislaw agreed, suggesting educators identify skills that schools can teach to promote a workforce to usher in what he called "a new era of energy and environmental progress—these include more traditional skills, which can be supplied by workers like electricians and welders as well as more advanced engineering skills."

Foss said the Obama administration needs a framework for its first 100 days to filter issues.

"I don't think climate is the right one. Maybe it should be energy investment," Foss said. She also said the public dialogue so far on climate change has not necessarily served the public well, and she advocated more discussion on the issue.

"In earth science, we look at carbon dioxide as a marker or an indicator but not as a cause," Foss said.

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