U.S. Needs an Energy Council to Analyze Issues

A new report, “Perspectives on Energy Policy: Security, Economics, and the Environment,” says that the United States should create a high-level independent council to analyze and communicate critical issues to energy policymakers and the public.

The result of a workshop convened by Sandia National Laboratories and the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Sustainability Solutions Institute (SSI) in March, the report represents the thinking of 27 leaders in academia, government and the private sector.

The report also recommends that policymakers focus their attention on outcomes and values rather than on mandating specific technical solutions.

“At no time in our nation’s history have the challenges associated with securing America’s energy future been so paramount and the need to develop systems solutions so critical if we are to find effective solutions to address the energy–climate nexus,” said Les Shephard, Sandia’s vice president for energy, security and defense technologies. “To assure this future, we must find more effective approaches to fully couple the energy policy community with the science and technology community to provide informed policy decisions that will benefit the global community. This report is one small but important step in moving in this direction.”

Other recommendations for action noted in the report:

  • Develop educational curricula that address energy and sustainability, suitable for all levels, that will accelerate the development of next-generation technologies and workforce;
  • Develop tangible messages to engage the broader public to think about their energy choices and help citizens make informed decisions; and
  • Conduct an assessment of the nation’s energy security status, comparable to those already executed for environmental and economic security.

The high-level council recommended in the report would be patterned after the Council on Foreign Relations and provide an in¬dependent venue for addressing energy policy op¬tions that help deepen the nation’s understand¬ing of how security, economics, and environmental considerations interact in developing energy policy decisions.

In addition to the workshop organizers, participants represented a variety of organizations, including the automotive industry, distinguished universities, national laboratories, and “think tanks.” The event brought together leaders from diverse backgrounds to identify promising areas for energy policy, based on understanding the issues, assumptions, and priorities from three intersecting perspectives of energy policy: security, economics, and the environment.

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