With Wall Street in chaos and the presidential election almost upon us, we need to get focused on what’s needed to move the United States and its economy forward.
We’ve weathered years of campaigning, two conventions and several debates. But through it all one issue has never been adequately addressed – a comprehensive, action-oriented National Energy Policy.
There has been lots of discussion about the price of oil, offshore drilling, the need for alternative energy and global warming but not what we need … a National Energy Policy with teeth, collaboration and funding. A successful policy must transcend elections, political parties and corporate boundaries and meet the needs of consumers, business, the environment and national security.
Over the past 35 years several mandates have been proposed such as Nixon’s directive that gasoline will never exceed $1.00 a gallon and Carter’s edict that U.S. will never again import as much oil as it did in 1977. Those all worked, right.
What we needed then, and what we need now is a comprehensive long-term energy policy. It is amazing one has never been proposed. It shows the lack of accountability among our elected officials. They had plenty of warning, starting with the Oil Crisis in 1973 and continuing to this day.
The policy needs three parts … collaboration, funding and a solid roadmap for implementation.
The auto and oil industries and their supply chains need to play a leading role in developing that National Energy Action Plan. They need to work together with a common purpose set forward in this plan. As a nation we cannot afford to allow politics and competitive concerns to freeze out companies, people or regions.
Funding a National Energy Policy is also essential and we must find new sources of money. While private equity is reeling from the rapid slide on Wall Street, it will come back and will have money to invest where it sees promise. Google’s initiative and the X-Prize are innovative ways of funding innovation, but they are pieces of a jig saw puzzle that has no picture.
Non-governmental support to develop alternative energy technologies and the infrastructure for there delivery must be part of the policy that lays out a solid platform, a strong roadmap and timeline and provides the underlying stability needed from the federal government.
“There is tremendous potential there, but in our view – to date – most alternative energy investments need to either have a government mandate, such as tax subsidies, or other government assistance if you’re going to have a significant change in the technology to make it truly economic,” Jonathan Farber, cofounder and managing director of Lime Rock Partners, a private equity firm specializing in energy, told Knowledge@Wharton.
The longer we wait to develop a National Energy Policy the more our economy will slide, the more jobs we will loses and, worst of all, we stand to lose our national R&D superiority as other nations move more quickly.