From: Sustainable Energy Coalition
Published October 25, 2004 06:24 PM

23 Business and Environmental Groups Urge President Bush to Reduce Oil and Gas Dependency


SUSTAINABLE ENERGY COALITION
1612 "K" Street, N.W.; #202-A
Washington, DC 20006
202-293-2898, ext.201; fax: 202-293-5857
kbossong@hotmail.com


News Release


23 Business and Environmental Groups Urge President Bush to Reduce Oil and Gas Dependency and Lower High Oil Prices by Rapidly Expanding Use of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency


For Release: Monday, October 25, 2004


Contact: Ken Bossong 202-293-2898, ext.201


WASHINGTON DC — In a letter sent to the White House today, 23 business, environmental, and energy policy organizations called upon President Bush to "reconsider the nation's energy policies in light of oil prices now surpassing $50/barrel and natural gas prices at 40-year highs [and to] instituted an energy policy that moves the nation away from dangerous over-reliance on petroleum."


The organizations, all member groups of the Sustainable Energy Coalition, wrote that "the nation's short-term goal should be to begin reducing overall consumption of oil. Its mid-term goal should be to further reduce demand for domestic sources of oil and dramatically curtail, if not eliminate, most oil imports. Its long-term goal should be to discontinue its use of oil for all but a few high-priority purposes (e.g., its use in chemicals and medicines)."


"A [comprehensive] commitment to energy efficiency improvements offers the near-term promise of substantial reductions in oil [and natural gas] use and the potential of eliminating not only oil imports but also oil use altogether in the longer term. ... Oil and natural gas consumption not displaced by cost-effective energy efficiency measures can be further curbed through expanded use of cleaner, renewable energy technologies to offset oil-based electricity, liquid fuels, and feedstocks."


Among the policy options they outlined, the groups urged a doubling of fuel efficiency for automobiles over the next 20 years coupled with a commitment to meet 25% of remaining transportation fuel needs with biofuels. They also argued that oil and natural gas used for space heating could be slashed from 10-50% over the next two decades and likewise curbed in industrial and electrical generation uses.


Moreover, "solar thermal systems and geothermal heat-pumps as well as direct geothermal heating technologies coupled with the cross-section of renewable electric technologies could displace much of the oil and natural gas consumed in residential and smaller commercial space heating. ... What little oil used for electricity that cannot be displaced through energy efficiency measures can be eliminated through expanded use of biomass, geothermal, hydroelectric, solar, and wind technologies achieved through a national Renewable Portfolio/Energy Standard of 20% or higher by 2020."


"Taken together, a mix of informed federal, state, and local policies to fully tap cost-effective and technically available energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies could cut oil and natural gas consumption by at least a third and perhaps by as much as half or more over the next 20-25 years."


The full text of the letter and the list of signers follows.


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The Sustainable Energy Coalition is a coalition of nearly 100 national and state business, environmental, consumer, and energy policy organizations that collectively represent several thousand companies and community-based groups. Founded in 1992, the Sustainable Energy Coalition works to promote increased use of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.


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SUSTAINABLE ENERGY COALITION
1612 "K" Street, N.W.; #202-A
Washington, DC 20006
202-293-2898, ext.201; fax: 202-293-5857
October 25, 2004



President George Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Bush:
The 23 undersigned business, environmental, consumer, and energy policy organizations are writing to urge you, the members of your Administration, and the members of the U.S. Congress to reconsider the nation's energy policies in light of oil prices now surpassing $50/barrel and natural gas prices at 40-year highs.


The current record-breaking world oil and natural gas prices are the result of many different factors including continuing instability in key oil-producing regions (e.g., Nigeria, Iraq, Venezuela), storm damage in the Gulf of Mexico, the exploding growth in the economies in China and elsewhere, and declining supplies from lower-cost wells.


While it's uncertain whether or not oil prices will remain at the $50/barrel level or higher, it is probable that the future average price of oil and natural gas will stay significantly above that of the past two or three decades and will continue to increase in the future.


Moreover, if current U.S. energy policies favoring heavy and generally inefficient oil and natural gas consumption continue, the U.S. will continue to import an ever-growing share of its petroleum - a share now already at 57% - and natural gas in the form of LNG.


Such policies are unwise and ultimately unsustainable.


Dependence on high-priced oil will serve to stimulate inflation, increase the cost of most goods, reduce the buying power of American citizens, cost American jobs, and make U.S. businesses less competitive. Moreover, now costing over $150 billion annually - the highest level in history, oil imports already are the single biggest component in the nation's trade deficit. Further increases in oil and natural gas prices will only worsen the U.S. trade imbalance.


Continued and growing dependence on oil imports, particularly from politically unstable regions, is a direct threat to the nation's energy security and serves to skew American foreign policy, as well as increase military costs to protect sources of oil and natural gas supplies.


Finally, extensive consumption of oil and natural gas poses a wide array of environmental problems including oil spills that contaminate water supplies and endanger wildlife, smog and air pollution, and a worsening of global climate change.


The option of attempting to curb oil and natural gas prices as well as imports through increased domestic drilling and production is not a solution, at least not a long-term solution. U.S. oil and gas reserves are limited and dwindling, and those domestic reserves remaining are generally in deeper and/or more expensive wells, or are located in environmentally sensitive regions. It does not make good sense to exploit a finite resource like U.S. petroleum and natural gas reserves for wasteful consumption in energy-inefficient cars, homes, and factories. It is particularly foolhardy in light of the availability of far better alternatives.


It is well past the time, when the United States should have instituted an energy policy that moves the nation away from dangerous over-reliance on petroleum.


The nation's short-term goal should be to begin reducing overall consumption of oil. Its mid-term goal should be to further reduce demand for domestic sources of oil and dramatically curtail, if not eliminate, most oil imports. Its long-term goal should be to discontinue its use of oil for all but a few high-priority purposes (e.g., its use in chemicals and medicines).


While such goals have been proposed on and off in the past, beginning with former President Nixon's "Project Independence" program in 1974, and then not met, they remain technically and economically feasible. The only thing lacking is political will and leadership.

Energy Efficiency Options:
A thorough-going commitment to energy efficiency improvements offers the near-term promise of substantial reductions in oil use and the potential of eliminating not only oil imports but also oil use altogether in the longer term.


Major changes in regulatory policy, coupled with public and private investments in energy efficiency, could curb oil and natural gas use by a third or more over the next two decades.


It is technically and economically feasible to double fuel efficiency for cars, SUVs, and light trucks within 20 years without compromising passenger safety or comfort. This near-term goal can be accomplished through a combination of tighter CAFE standards, more stringent government procurement policies, and tax incentives for businesses and individuals.


Oil use in the transportation sector, which accounts for two-thirds of all oil consumption in the U.S., can be further reduced significantly by expanding reliance on mass transit, improving heavy truck fuel economy, shifting freight transport from truck to rail, supporting construction and use of bikeways and pedestrian walkways, and better urban and suburban planning.


Oil and natural gas used in existing homes, businesses, and government buildings for space heating can be slashed by 10-50% over the next two decades through a mix of tax incentives, procurement policies, and changes in local and/or state building codes that encourage investments in better windows, improved building insulation, and more efficient heating units. Likewise, oil and natural gas consumption in new structures can be reduced even further or eliminated altogether.


Oil and natural gas used in industry also can be curtailed dramatically through mandated or tax-supported investments in more energy-efficient thermal systems and industrial processes and expanded use of combined heat & power technologies. Similar potential exists for oil and natural gas savings in the agriculture sector.


Though accounting for only a small percentage of oil consumption, oil used for electricity production - primarily in peaking units - could be largely eliminated through improvements in air conditioner, lighting, and other appliance efficiency standards as well as time-of-use pricing, demand-response, and other regulatory policies. Such efficiency measures could also significantly reduce the use of natural gas for electricity production.


Renewable Energy Options:


Oil and natural gas consumption not displaced by cost-effective energy efficiency measures can be further curbed through expanded use of cleaner, renewable energy technologies to offset oil-based electricity, liquid fuels, and feedstocks.


Renewably-based liquid fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel already account for roughly 2% of the nation's transportation fuels and are growing rapidly. Through a combination of tax incentives and regulatory policies such as a Renewable Fuels Standard, such fuels could provide as much as 25% of transportation fuel over the next two decades if combined with aggressive energy efficiency measures. In addition, there is a growing opportunity for the use of renewable electricity in the transportation sector with hybrid electric "plug in" vehicles, trucks and buses. Fuel cells for transportation as well as renewably-based hydrogen also have a longer-term potential for further reductions.


Solar thermal systems and geothermal heat-pumps as well as direct geothermal heating technologies coupled with the cross-section of renewable electric technologies could displace much of the oil and natural gas consumed in residential and smaller commercial space heating. Longer-term, stationary fuel cells could further reduce oil needs. Again, this potential could be tapped through a combination of building code changes, tax incentives for homeowners and landlords, and green power programs.


These, coupled with energy storage technologies, could also reduce oil and natural gas used for space heating and other uses in larger businesses and industries. Biobased products also offer an alternative to at least some petroleum- and natural gas-based lines of manufacturing. Similar potential exists for displacing oil and natural gas in the agriculture sector, especially when there is such huge potential for producing synthesis gas and biodiesel from agricultural and biomass wastes, which are produced in the millions of tons each year in almost all states.


What little oil used for electricity that cannot be displaced through energy efficiency measures can be eliminated through expanded use of biomass, geothermal, hydroelectric, solar, and wind technologies achieved through a national Renewable Portfolio/Energy Standard of 20% or higher by 2020.


This also would significantly reduce the need for natural gas in electricity production. In addition, distributed small-scale renewable electric technologies could eliminate the need for most diesel generators used in remote locations.


Conclusion:


Taken together, a mix of informed federal, state, and local policies to fully tap cost-effective and technically available energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies could cut oil and natural gas consumption by at least a third and perhaps by as much as half or more over the next 20-25 years.


However, realizing this potential requires a major redirection in energy policy to provide the necessary regulatory, tax, and R&D investment support needed by sustainable energy technologies. It also requires changes in government tax and other policies that encourage continued reliance on oil. In the place of the latter there should be a mix of measures that discourage the nation's continued addiction to petroleum and natural gas.


Ultimately, such a policy shift will improve the nation's environment, public health, energy security, economy, and balance of trade, as well as create new, high-quality, domestic jobs and businesses.


Now is the time to act - before oil and natural gas prices rise even higher and/or reliance on petroleum and LNG imports increase further.


Sincerely,
Alliance for Affordable Energy
Alliance to Save Energy
American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy
American Solar Energy Society
Bob Lawrence & Associates
Breakthrough Technologies Institute
Burlington Electric Department of Burlington
City & County of San Francisco
Colorado Energy Group
Energy Innovations
Environmental & Energy Study Institute
National Environmental Trust
Natural Resources Defense Council
New Community Project
New Uses Council
Potomac Resources, Inc.
Renewable Oil International® LLC
Solar Energy Industries Association The Stella Group Ltd.
SustainableBusiness.com
Sterling Planet
Union of Concerned Scientists
Waverly Light and Power


cc. DOE Secretary Spencer Abraham
Senate Leadership
House of Representatives Leadership


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