Energy reform panel’s members no slouches
R.T. Moolick’s letter to the editor of March 17, “Don’t put your faith in dreamers,” calls the proponents of the National Energy Policy Initiative “ding-a-lings.” You be the judge.Those proponents, whose biographies are posted at http://www.nepinitiative.org, include:-Current or former senior executives from the oil, gas, electricity, car, financial, fuel-cell, and renewable energy industries-The heads of two of the top energy-industry strategic consulting firms-Two former advisors to the president and one of their deputies-Two former deputy secretaries of Energy-A former director of the CIA-Five former subcabinet members from the departments of Energy, State, Defense, Commerce, and EPA-Two former senior staff economists from the President’s Council of Economic Advisors-A former Congressional Energy & Power Subcommittee chair and his staff director-A former chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission-Two former members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission-Former chairs or members of three state utility commissions-A former president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners-Senior policy and technical professors from Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, Berkeley, and Cambridge UniversitiesThe participants who presented the NEP Initiative’s findings on Capitol Hill last Thursday were Bill Nitze, deputy assistant Secretary of State in the Reagan and Bush administrations after 14 years at Mobil, and Reid Detchon, who was President George H.W. Bush’s speechwriter, led his Energy Transition Team, and served as his principal deputy assistant Secretary of Energy.Of the 22 authors and 33 initial endorsers of the NEP Initiative’s report, 16 are or were senior executives in the energy industries. This bipartisan group’s deep experience in business and government commands respect.Moolick’s claim that the NEP Initiative aims to eliminate SUVs is as fanciful as his claim that fuel-efficient vehicles must be sluggish and unsafe. For example, Hypercar, Inc., headquartered in Basalt, has gained worldwide recognition for developing an uncompromised, high-performance, competitive-cost, midsized SUV that gets the equivalent of 99 mpg.That quintupled efficiency, which could ultimately save the world as much oil as OPEC sells, is partly due to an ultralight but ultrastrong carbon-fiber structure. Industry-standard simulations show that such a vehicle could hit a wall at 35 mph without damaging the passenger compartment, or meet federal occupant-protection standards for a 30-mph wall crash when colliding head-on with a steel car twice its weight, each going 30 mph. That compares favorably with the safety of virtually any car on the road today.As for nuclear power, the NEP Initiative’s expert group included three leading authorities on it and an officer of a utility that uses it.The group’s consensus was that nuclear power’s “cost, potential vulnerability to radiation releases, and uncertainty about long-term waste management raise serious questions about its future use …. We recommend … [that future] nuclear power plants should be licensed only if they substantially reduce the environmental, safety, security and proliferation risks of the current plants … [and] should meet the same market tests that other supply and demand options for providing energy services are required to meet.”The Integral Fast Reactor concept Mr. Moolick favors would find those conditions particularly challenging – which may be why Congress stopped funding it in 1994.Mr. Moolick’s claim that the NEP Initiative group met with U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., is false. The Post Independent’s report that the NEP Initiative was somehow related to a political party or legislative bill was also erroneous. Any such linkage has been scrupulously avoided.Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., and U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., joined in welcoming the NEP Initiative’s findings, but no serving public official participated in, advised, or influenced the expert group. Neither did anyone from an advocacy group, nor the NEP Initiative’s foundation funders. It was organized by two independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organizations. Its report is credible both because of the distinguished bipartisan experts who wrote and endorsed it and because of their inclusive, open, transparent, and bipartisan process. All details and papers are posted on the Web.The NEP Initiative is receiving broad acclaim from Americans, of all political persuasions, who share its vision of an energy system that “will not run out, cannot be cut off, supports a vibrant economy and safeguards our health and environment.”The report shows how to meet our nation’s security, economic, and environmental needs simultaneously and without compromise.This approach is neither liberal nor conservative, dogmatic nor divisive; rather, it is national, integrative, balanced, market-oriented, science-based, innovative, pragmatic, profitable, and uniting.The NEP Initiative’s timely contribution is to reveal, beneath today’s polarized energy debate, a large middle ground on which a sound energy policy can be built. It suggests that America focus first on doing what most people agree about, so that the things they don’t agree about will become largely unnecessary. Mr. Moolick’s letter illustrates why that consensus-based approach would be good for our country – full of passionate people who seek by varied routes to reach shared goals.Amory B. Lovins is the chief executive officer for the Rocky Mountain Institute in Old Snowmass, found online at http://www.rmi.org.
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