By appointing James Jones as his national security adviser, President Barack Obama today signaled that energy will be a high priority in his administration.
Jones, a general from the U.S. Marine Corps and formerly a supreme allied commander in Europe, is also the CEO of the Institute of the 21st Century, a group developed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to promote energy development and conservation. The organization sent Obama a letter and a report in November urging him to adopt a strong energy policy.
"For over 40 years, the United States has had an inadequate, contradictory and shortsighted approach with our regard to our energy future," the report stated. "Energy is a national security issue and an international security issue of the highest order. Global demand will increase by more than 50 percent between now and 2030 – and perhaps by as much as 30 percent here in the United States. We must develop new, affordable, diverse and clean sources of energy that will underpin our nation's economy and keep us strong both and home and abroad."
The report in many ways echoes the positions staked out by Obama during the campaign. Namely, that developing new forms of energy will lead to jobs and economic recovery as well as strengthen our bargaining power on the world stage.
And, like Obama, the organization puts some of its strongest emphasis on energy efficiency, which should be like music to those in the green building and lighting industries. Aggressively improving energy efficiency is listed first in the 13 policy "pillars" in its report and number two is reducing the enviromental impact of energy consumption.
By contrast, transforming the transportation sector clocks in a number nine, below investing more in nuclear and clean coal technologies.
Some of the report's reccommendations for efficiency include increasing the annual budget for the Department of Energy's Building Program – which gives out research grants – from $110 million to $250 million and increasing the budget for a similar program to increase industrial efficiency from $65 million to $175 million. The report also says the U.S. should reduce the period for recovering investments in smart grid and transmission line investments from 20 to ten years.
The report also reccommends that the DOE be given the power to encourage or set green building codes. Running buildings consume 39 percent of the energy in the U.S. and construction gobbles up another 12 percent. Transporation only accounts for around 26 percent.
In alternative energy, the group advises that the solar, wind, geothermal and other renewable energy research programs see a bump from $250 million to $450 million.
But not everything the organization proposes will jibe with some Obama supporters. The report also reccommends lifting the moratorium on oil drilling in select areas in the outer continental shelf and building a natural gas pipeline across Alaska. The group, though, also advises on giving the U.S. a 37.5 percent royalty from production from new leases in the outer continental shelf.
It also proposes recycling nuclear waste so it can be reused as fuel. France, among other large nuclear power consumers, recycles nuclear materials. The U.S. historically has not because of the potential for using recycling materials for the production of weapons.