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Ten years hence

Energy Security

April 4, 2008

On April 4, 2008, (retired) General James L. Jones, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber Institute for 21 st Century Energy, presented, "Energy Security," which contained the following excerpts:

  • "National security" refers to a much broader array of concerns than issues relating to the military or intelligence agencies. Today, it also includes energy concerns, security of our infrastructure and challenges related to the asymmetrical nature of the world.
  • Our goal is not to be "energy independent" in relation to the rest of the world. First of all, that is probably not possible; second, it sends a message of isolationism, which is not a good idea.
  • NGOs and academic institutions will play an increasingly important role in energy security; therefore national security is no longer restricted to a relatively small group of government and military agencies.
  • By 2030, the world's appetite for energy will double present levels, especially given the industrial rise of China, India and other developing countries. The United States' demand for energy will rise by about 30 percent.
  • We must be pro-active, not reactive, to world events. Certainly the military is a component of that. The proper use of force is first and foremost to prevent conflict, and then only as a last resort when diplomacy fails.
  • The solution to our energy problem is rooted in three things: diversity of energy sources, efficiency to reduce demand and technology to deliver better energy options. There is no single "silver bullet" answer. Most of the significant ideas will take anywhere from one to 15 years to implement.
  • The United States has an abundant supply of coal, which unfortunately is not an environmentally friendly fuel. The technology to capture carbon so that coal use is environmentally acceptable is probably 10 years away. But coal is important to our energy future.
  • The bloom is probably off the rose for corn-based ethanol. Because of subsidies, it has given people the distorted sense that is can provide a long-term solution. Cellulosic ethanol is probably more viable.
  • Governments increasingly are considering energy sources in strategic terms, not tactical, which is unfortunate. Many politicians worry more about getting re-elected than finding long-term solutions.
  • As a responsible nation, it is incumbent upon us to share energy technology with the developing world in order to bring them along at the same pace our economy is moving.

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