This summer’s complacency about energy could lead to another California-style energy crisis

CONTACT: B.J. Almond
(713) 348-6770


CONTACT: Lisa Shields

Council on Foreign Relations
(212) 434-9888


Energy Task Force report from Rice University and Council on
Foreign Relations updates findings

The easing of energy
prices this summer has diverted national attention away from the need for a
comprehensive national energy policy — and the consequences of this neglect
could lead to a future energy crisis similar to the one California experienced
this winter. Thus concludes a new report released today by two of America’s
leading energy experts, Edward L. Morse of Hess Trading Company LLC and Amy
Myers Jaffe of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy of Rice

Though acknowledging
that the energy sector is no longer in the critical condition it was in earlier
this year — when the Baker Institute and the Council on Foreign Relations
released the report of an Independent Task Force on Energy that Morse and Jaffe
headed — his new report warns that it would be wrong for the public or
policymakers to assume that the energy crisis has been solved, or that it was
fabricated all along.

Without a national
energy policy, the new report states, “energy shortages and temporary
dislocations can easily reemerge for any one of a number of reasons: from the
resumption of accelerated economic growth, to international political
developments, to the weather, to even an accident.” The report adds, “It would
be unwise to assume — barring intervention — that the world has seen its last
California-style blackout.”

Echoing their original
independent task force report of earlier this year, Morse and Jaffe remind
policymakers that developing a national energy policy will involve hard choices.
The United States will continue to face the threat of energy shortages, the new
report states, “if we fail to respond to the strategic challenge of merging a
concrete plan for sustainable energy supply with environmental protection and
national security.”

Morse and Jaffe give the
Bush administration credit for trying to adopt a comprehensive national energy
policy, but urge the administration, and Vice President Cheney’s energy task
force in particular, to refine their energy proposals. In today’s new report,
Morse and Jaffe recommend:

1) Developing a stronger
lead for U.S. diplomacy in the international environmental arena, and as a
trade-off to enhanced exploration and production of hydrocarbons in the short
term, offering a serious longer-term commitment to the development, deployment,
and promotion of cleaner energy sources;
2) Implementing, together with
Congress, a more-effective and broader use of demand-management strategies and
technologies so as to reduce the country’s reliance on oil;
3) Implementing,
also together with Congress, a more-effective program to open a broader area of
federal lands for exploration and production of hydrocarbons, especially in the
lower 48 states;
4) Integrating into energy policy substantial efforts to
foster the development, deployment, and promotion of cleaner energy sources,
including renewable energy, but also covering new alternative energy
technologies, nuclear energy, and clean coal technologies;
5) Reviewing the
adequacy of current levels of strategic stockpiles, mechanisms for financing
their expansion, definitions of an emergency that would justify triggering use
of strategic reserves, and arrangements for coordinating stock draws on an
equitable basis.

In reviewing events in
Washington since the release of the Baker Institute-Council on Foreign Relations
Independent Task Force Report earlier this year, this new report states that the
public debate over the Bush Administration’s proposal to open some 2,000 acres
of the Alaska Wildlife Refuge “is diverting attention from other highly
prospective areas that could be opened for fruitful exploration and drilling

Morse and Jaffe are
available for interviews on their new report, as they will be throughout the
fall when Congress considers the energy proposals from the Bush administration
and others.


Rice University is consistently ranked one of America’s
best teaching and research universities. It is distinguished by its: size-2,700
undergraduates and 1,500 graduate students; selectivity-10 applicants for each
place in the freshman class; resources-an undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio
of 5-to-1, and the fourth largest endowment per student among private American
universities; residential college system, which builds communities that are both
close-knit and diverse; and collaborative culture, which crosses disciplines,
integrates teaching and research, and intermingles undergraduate and graduate
work. Rice’s wooded campus is located in the nation’s fourth largest city and on
America’s South Coast.

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