Amid uncompromising politics, balance has special appeal

Oct. 31, 2016
When compromise stands no chance, balance gains appeal as a measure of policy.

When compromise stands no chance, balance gains appeal as a measure of policy.

Balance undergirds a thoughtful "energy policy strategy for the next president" published this month by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS).

The strategy makes recommendations in seven broad categories: modernizing and expanding the electricity system, assuring stability of oil and gas supplies, improving emergency response to supply disruptions, modernizing energy transportation, improving infrastructure permitting, protecting critical infrastructure, and encouraging constructive engagement on energy and the environment.

Within those areas, the three authors elaborate US energy interests insightfully within a broad international context. They have the background:

• David L. Goldwyn, chairman of the Atlantic Council's Energy Advisory Group, handled international energy affairs in the State Department while Hillary Clinton was secretary and was assistant secretary of energy in the administration of Bill Clinton.

• Robert McNally, nonresident senior fellow at Columbia University's Center on Global Energy Policy, worked in international energy and economics in the administration of George W. Bush.

• Elizabeth Rosenberg, senior fellow and director of the Energy, Economics, and Security Program at CNAS, was senior advisor to the Department of the Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

Two items the authors include among eight "fundamental realities" of the US energy system deserve special notice.

In one, the authors assert, "Oil and gas will remain the dominant fuel source to power the global economy." In the other, they declare, "Climate change cannot be ignored, and national leaders must directly address this topic through a focus on research, development, and deployment of new energy technologies."

From those propositions, reasonable people with divergent opinions might fashion constructive discussion about climate and energy.

To the extent any discussion happens at all, however, climate change--to quote the major-party presidential candidates--is either "an urgent threat" to be mitigated by nationalizing the energy system or "a hoax" meriting no response.

The balanced approach of Goldwyn, McNally, and Rosenberg makes more sense. Alas, unbalanced absolutism makes better political theater.

About the Author

Bob Tippee | Editor

Bob Tippee has been chief editor of Oil & Gas Journal since January 1999 and a member of the Journal staff since October 1977. Before joining the magazine, he worked as a reporter at the Tulsa World and served for four years as an officer in the US Air Force. A native of St. Louis, he holds a degree in journalism from the University of Tulsa.