Below is a guest-post submitted by Frank Stewart, President and COO of the American Association of Blacks in Energy…
Getting Energy Policy Right To Boost Our Prosperity
Supporting a vital economy is one of the ongoing challenges that Americans face. This week, 300 energy professionals are meeting in Jersey City to meet that challenge in a forward thinking way that promotes a diversity of energy sources to boost our domestic prosperity. Meeting that challenge requires that we recognize there is inherent risk involved in all forms of energy development, and we need reasonable operating standards along with incentives that promote best safety practices.
Unfortunately some of our political leadership appears to be holding the American economy hostage to their own ideological agendas leading to a degree of policy uncertainty that inhibits investment in both the energy development that we need for the future and the energy infrastructure that we need for our present. Such efforts stifle the economic hopes and threaten the financial viability of hard working families from coast to coast, especially those from low-income or minority communities who spend a larger percentage of their income for energy services.
Clean, affordable energy is crucial to establishing a more competitive economy and creating new business opportunities. While traditional forms of energy will continue to make up the largest part of our national energy portfolio for decades to come, we must look to technologies that can reduce our carbon footprint. One form of energy that must continue to have a place in our portfolio is nuclear energy. New Jersey, itself, is home to three nuclear power plants that have, for years and years, provided electricity to millions of families throughout the state. The benefits of nuclear are plentiful; nuclear can provide base-load power that, like wind and solar energy, does not emit carbon dioxide.
Another very versatile, very abundant, very affordable opportunity for America lies under our feet—clean burning natural gas. Both Republicans and Democrats at both the federal and the state levels have encouraged responsible natural gas development, and most Americans also seem to agree that we are not doing enough to tap into our domestic resources. Natural gas is increasingly important as the latest projections have indicated that America’s gas reserves can power our factories and homes, our cars and trucks for more than100 years. Development in the Northeast alone would add hundreds of billions of dollars in total value to the economy and thousands and thousands of jobs to those areas of the nation that need them.
Yet while government and industry continue developing the path toward future cooperation and collaboration, Americans are being besieged by higher gasoline prices and persistently high levels of unemployment. The fact of the matter is that hydraulic fracturing and deep water drilling can be done safely and with minimal risk to the environment. We can all agree that there must be high standards for the development of all of our natural resources. And while the burden of proof must fall to the energy industry, government can set the standard, provide the oversight, and still facilitate energy production. We as a nation have the capacity to harness the power of our creativity, ingenuity, and dynamism to, not only keep the lights on, but build a more sustainable, equitable, and prosperous society.
What we need from our public and private sector leaders, leaders from government, the energy industry and the investment community is a commitment to constructive conversation on the issues at hand and a greater appreciation of the impact that they will have on all American families. By crafting sound policies and encouraging the careful development of all of our energy options, we can meet our potential and keep American the envy of the world.