Energy & Environment

What's next for the president's science agenda?

President Obama has won a second term in office. Now comes the hard part: how to move forward in a polarized political environment where the two major parties don’t agree on the overall role of government, on most policies, and all too often, not even on the facts.
Will Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his fellow Republican senators be more open to compromise with the president? Or will they be looking at possible Tea Party primary challengers like those who took out Dick Lugar and Mike Castle in 2010? Similarly, will Speaker Boehner and other House Republican leaders be inclined (and able) to reach deals with a Democratic president and Senate, or are we fated to ever more polarization and gridlock?


Sandy shows costs of climate change

America is not prepared for a changing climate. Hurricane Sandy vividly demonstrated this by cutting off our greatest city, sending half of Manhattan into darkness, and turning the boardwalks and houses of JerseyShore into matchsticks. The estimates are that this storm will ultimately cost over $20 billion in insured losses, and $50 billion in economic loss.
Last week – purely coincidently – the American Security Project (ASP) released its new Climate Security Report, detailing how climate change will undermine America’s national security. It makes clear, however, that this is not simply a problem that stops at the water’s edge: climate change presents clear dangers to our homeland security as well.


Overhauling the nation's electricity grid

In 2010, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission embarked on an ambitious effort to overhaul the nation’s electricity grid. FERC’s Order 1000 set out to make substantial changes to the way regions and utilities have planned for their power needs. Starting in October, transmission planners across the country will tell FERC how they intend to comply. FERC left regions some latitude, but it remains to be seen how the commission will judge what the regions come up with. FERC’s ambition taken to its limits could well saddle customers with costs for unneeded projects that don’t benefit them at all in the careful way we have come to think about benefits.


Time to rein in the EPA

The scientific enterprise at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is broken, contrary to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s assertions that “science is the backbone of everything we do at EPA,” or that major regulations are based on the recommendations of EPA’s “independent” science advisors. As Americans face a fragile economy and skyrocketing energy prices fueled by President Obama’s agenda, it is important to pull back the curtain on the ideologically-driven processes EPA is using to justify an avalanche of costly rules.


What no candidate says about energy and the economy

This election is being framed as a choice between two different approaches to return to robust economic growth. But what if both sides are missing a critical underlying factor in our economic troubles? What if tools of the past no longer fit the economy of the future?  Economic growth, as we have known it, is being constrained by an unprecedented slowing of growth in world oil supply. America’s path to future prosperity needs to recognize and confront this new energy reality, and adapt our economy to run on a lot less oil.


Better bee health begins and ends with science, not soundbites

Earlier this month, scientists, regulators, beekeepers and others gathered in Alexandria, Va., for the National Stakeholders Conference on Honey Bee Health. The meeting, co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), focused on the latest findings and information regarding challenges to honey bee health around the world.
In recent years, honey bee losses in the United States, as measured by beekeepers each spring, have been higher than historical averages. Although there is much speculation as to the reasons for this decline in honey bee health, many causative factors may be involved and scientists from government, academia and industry are intensifying their search for answers.


Rethinking and reforming our energy policy

As Election Day gets closer, a growing number of young conservatives are urging political leaders to make energy reform a national priority.

That’s why Young Conservatives for Energy Reform recently co-sponsored a reception in Washington, D.C. We want Republicans inside the Beltway to know what we are hearing outside the Beltway. At meetings and events we’ve held across the country over the past several months, young conservatives have told us that we need a new approach to energy in this country. To us, it’s not a partisan issue. It’s an American issue.

As Lt. General Richard Zilmer (Ret.) of CNA’s Military Advisory Board put it at our D.C. event, our over-dependence on oil makes our nation weaker. We send nearly a billion dollars a day overseas to pay for oil. Some of that money ends up in the hands of people who wish to do us harm. This puts us in the position of funding both sides of the war against terrorism. And that’s a position we can’t afford to be in.

Our oil addiction also comes at great cost to our military - both in blood and in treasure. Every $10 increase in the price of a barrel of oil costs the Department of Defense over $1 billion dollars, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill. And on the battlefield, the need for oil puts our troops’ lives in greater danger, because our enemies often target fuel convoys. In fact, an Army study found that 1 in 24 fuel convoys results in an American casualty in Afghanistan.

For young conservatives, these costs are unacceptable. And we believe adopting an “all-of-the-above” and “Made in America” approach to energy is the solution. That means reducing our over-dependence on oil, becoming more energy efficient, and developing homegrown energy sources such as natural gas, solar, wind, and biofuels.


Small modular reactors provide path forward for nuclear power

Earlier this month, I took a tour of the Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant, located on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. A two-unit, 1700-megawatt power plant, Calvert Cliffs generates about one-fifth of the power needs for the entire state of Maryland, or equivalent to the electricity demand for the city of Baltimore. We saw the generators, peaked into the control room, viewed video of the spent fuel pools, and discussed some of the safety features needed to keep the plant safe.


Leveraging our American energy revolution

American ingenuity and technological advances have unlocked a vast supply of domestic natural gas, more than enough to meet the needs of our country for generations to come. The economy and the environment are already benefitting from this affordable and abundant supply of clean-burning fuel, including the lowest CO2 emissions levels since the mid-1990s and a cost savings of more than $560 million per day for consumers and businesses. According to a study by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, domestic natural gas production has actually helped prevent us from falling into another recession.
But what if we could continue to enjoy these benefits while also creating more jobs and more economic growth?


An opportunity to debate climate change

270 minutes. That's how long the leading candidates for president and vice president have stood on stage in front of the American people without mentioning a challenge as big as the national debt, education, health care, and national security: climate change.

It's not that they haven't had plenty of opportunities.