America’s Updated Energy Strategy

by John Brian Shannon

President Obama visited the Argonne National Laboratory today in Argonne, Illinois, to give a major speech on the future of American energy. A new, USD $2 billion dollar program called the energy security trust was announced which gives focus to the administration’s plans for more renewable energy and proposes lower subsidies for fossil fuels.

Much of the resulting policy statement is based upon information supplied to the administration by the nonpartisan, Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) which represents senior business and former military leaders on both ends of the American political spectrum.

Here are the main points of the energy security trust – more detailed information is available by clicking here and here. And you can read the transcript of the President’s speech today in Argonne, Illinois, as compiled by the Chicago Sun-Times here.

By 2020, the President and Energy Secretary Steven Chu want the US;

  • To double the present level of U.S. renewable electricity generation
  • To double American energy productivity (by 2030)
  • To cut energy waste in the U.S. by half over the next twenty years
  • To invest in technology promoting energy efficiency & reduced waste
  • To cut net oil imports in half by the end of the decade
  • To enable safer production & cleaner electricity from natural gas
  • To promote safe & responsible oil and natural gas development
  • To assist the Nation’s truck fleets to adopt natural gas & alternative fuels
  • To improve energy efficiency through the Better Buildings Challenge program
  • To help U.S. states cut energy waste, improve efficiency & modernize grids
  • To streamline Interior Department regulations for faster project permitting
  • To work with the G20 & other fora to phase-out fossil fuel subsidies worldwide
  • To work with the IEA & others to strengthen energy security
  • To promote energy efficiency & development & deployment of clean energy via Clean Energy Ministerial & other international fora
  • To promote safe & secure nuclear power in nations pursuing nuclear energy
  • To design a responsible nuclear waste strategy for the U.S.

As the President continues to pursue his ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy, it should be noted that significant progress has been made. As President Obama stated in his speech today,

“We produce more oil than we have in 15 years. We import less oil than we have in 20 years. We’ve doubled the amount of renewable energy that we generate from sources like wind and solar. We have tens of thousands of good jobs to show for it.

We’re producing more natural gas than we ever have before with hundreds of thousands of good jobs to show for it. We supported the first new nuclear power plant in America since the 1970’s. And we’re sending less carbon pollution into the environment than we have in nearly 20 years. So we’re making real progress across the board.” – President Barack Obama

All of this is adding up to huge changes in the American energy sector and for the producers, consumers and investors of energy, the energy map in 2020 will bear scant resemblance to our present-day energy model. And that means that seven years from now, the air in and around large U.S. cities will be the cleaner for it.

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Port Hope Nuclear Waste:10-Year Cleanup Of Radioactive Material To Cost $1.28 Billion | MY COMMENT

Port Hope Nuclear Waste:10-Year Cleanup Of Radioactive Material To Cost $1.28 Billion — The Canadian Press
January 14, 2012

MY COMMENT — Full marks to the Conservati­ve government on announcing this clean-up project.

Yes, it should have been started years ago, but at least it is about to be done now.

A word about nuclear. It is hugely expensive to build, cheap to operate and produces cheap power for decades – and then there is the spent fuel rods – some of which must be securely stored for 20,000 years. Also, there is the risk radioactiv­e leaks, of the type we see at this site, or large scale contam as occurred in Fukushima, Japan.

Which is why Japan has shut down a majority of it’s 54 nuclear reactors and has just signed a huge oil deal with the Saudi’s. Japan expects to triple petroleum imports (compared to 2010 levels) to make up the difference while all those reactors sit idle.

Germany likewise, is getting out of nuclear. They planned to do it in less than 20 years. After inspecting their reactors, they say they will complete that process sooner.

If only solar and wind (and other sustainabl­es) had the same level of government subsidizat­ion as nuclear. Nuclear stock-hold­ers could simply switch their investment­s over to green energy stocks and make the same, or more, return on their investment­.

In the U.S. decommissi­oned nuclear plants are now having wind-turbi­nes and solar arrays installed, even as the clean-up continues. Hanford, Washington will take decades to remediate, but sustainabl­e energy is being installed on that site as we speak.

We could do the same.