It’s Time For a National Energy Policy

This week I am attending the Nemacolin Energy Institute’s 3rd Annual Shale Energy Conference.  NEI is a non-profit organization of which I am pleased to be a founding Board member.  The goal of NEI is to focus attention on and catalyze the creation of a comprehensive national energy policy for our nation.  This conference focuses on the role shale energy can play in helping move our nation toward energy independence.

At this conference we deployed a pre-publication version of a white paper entitled “It’s Time For a National Energy Policy”.  .  Once the final version is available, I will provide a link so you can download a copy to read.

For now, here is a quote from the paper that gives a sense for what it is all about –

“fortunately, with many energy options available, our energy and economic future could be bright, if energy policy permits it, and we don’t fumble the energy ball.  A coherent national energy policy could light the pathway to that future.”

Like the previous two years, this year’s Conference is leaving me optimistic about our future and the opportunity we have to secure our nation through energy independence.  The speakers in today’s sessions were candid and provocative.  I really got a sense of cohesion between the public and private sector speakers on the need for responsible development of our nation’s energy resources.  There was a realistic discussion on the magnitude of the challenge, but a commitment to work together to achieve the goal.

The afternoon sessions kicked off with presentations by the Honorable Scott Nally (Director, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency) and the Honorable Randy Huffman (Cabinet Secretary, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection).  Both top lined the challenges faced in regulating a complex industry and emphasized the need for cross Agency communication and collaboration.  Anticipate, pre-plan and communicate are three keys for success.  There needs to be a constant focus on identifying what is and what is not working and to eliminate the problems.  They also encouraged the industry to invest in more public education because an informed public is necessary to realize the full business potential of the industry.  Chevron’s commercial was mentioned as one example of what the industry needs to do more of.  I made it a point to check out the commercial and if you haven’t seen it yet, it is worth the time to view.

With intelligent, caring and committed regulators like Scott and Randy, I am very confident appropriate regulations to protect the public and not impede responsible development of our energy resources will be put in place.

John Somerhalder II (Chairman, President & CEO of AGL Resources Inc.) and Gary Sypolt (CEO, Dominion Energy) spoke about the outlook for energy sector.  They both agreed with independent consultants who predict that by 2020, the market for natural gas could be nearly 30 Tcf.  They suggested we may be reaching a critical tipping point on the use of natural gas in the transportation industry.  Buses, garbage trucks and tractor trailers have a high potential for conversion to natural gas.  The fleet models used by these modes of transportation are perfect to support the use of natural gas without a major infrastructure overhaul.

The PIRA Energy Group publication entitled “The Road to US Energy Independence: The Shale Revolution and It’s Implications For North America’s Energy Markets” promises to be a great read. More and more reports like the USAToday article are suggesting energy independence for America is a real possibility.  And, I for one, am excited about the vision.

Professor Terry Engleder (Professor of Geosciences at Penn State University) shared facts about fracking and the potential for ground water contamination.  He emphasized the importance of prudent regulations and private/public collaboration to ensure responsible development.  I was very impressed with Terry’s focus on data to guide decision making and the need for objectivity.

This was followed by a panel discussion of academic thought leaders – Dr. Jeffery Daniels (Director of Surface Energy Resource Center at The Ohio State University), Dr. Michael Arthur (Professor, Co-Director, Marcellus Center for Outreach at Penn State University), Dr. Timothy Carr (Marshall Miller Professor of Geology, west Virginia University), Dr. Henry Foley (Vice President for Research, Penn State University), and Dr. W. Michael Griffin (Associate Research Professor, Engineering and Public Policy/Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University).  The panel talked about the opportunity for increased collaboration in research between the industry and academia, and between academic institutions.  they also spoke to the need for collaboration to ensure an adequate supply of skilled labor to fuel the growth of the shale energy industry.

The day ended with a talk by The Honorable Jim Cawley (Lieutenant Governor, Pennsylvania) who discussed the number of jobs created by the shale energy industry, as well as the increase in prosperity and improvement in national security.  He was followed by  Dr. Ronald Sega (Vice President and Enterprise Executive, The Office of Energy & Environment, The Ohio State University), a former astronaut and American hero who spoke about the need to take a systems approach to the responsible development of the shale energy industry.

The day was full of important and inspiring information.  Hopefully I have been able to give you a flavor of the valuable information shared.

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