We must build upon this progress and simultaneously address ever-present energy security threats and environmental challenges. Doing so during a time of unsustainable national debt will create difficult but necessary policy choices — choices that are unlikely to be resolved without broad-based bipartisan support and national leadership.   

That leadership starts with a reinvigorated approach to developing our national energy policy — an approach that can help overcome the problems that have hampered past efforts and put the country on a more inclusive, balanced, resilient and enduring path. Recently, we released two recommendations to improve energy policy making in the Executive Branch, which we think is critical to building an inclusive, balanced energy policy that addresses both short-term needs and long-term goals. Early next year, we will be releasing our full report that will provide a set of wide-ranging policy recommendations, intended to provide a road map for the Obama administration and the new Congress next year.

Because energy-related responsibilities are dispersed among at least 20 different federal agencies and departments, we recommend creating a National Energy Strategy Council – a “nerve center” of sorts for energy in the Executive Branch. The Council, chaired by the Secretary of Energy should include members of all federal agencies involved in energy and White House policy offices, and should work with Congress, states, tribal nations, industry, and NGOs. The Council will be responsible for developing a much needed National Energy Strategy and for leading, coordinating and overseeing the many executive branch energy-related programs, activities and initiatives. 

We also support the development of a companion interagency Quadrennial Energy Review which develops the specific actions needed to implement the National Energy Strategy. This combination of high-level strategy and detailed implementation plan mirrors the approach used to develop national security policy, in which the executive branch prepares a National Security Strategy subject to a Quadrennial Defense Review prepared by the Department of Defense. Our approach looks to ensure the Executive Branch has a consistent framework for developing national energy strategies in response to ever-changing economic, environmental and national security concerns in the years to come.

We believe our recommendations for a National Energy Strategy Council, a National Energy Strategy and a Quadrennial Energy Review will provide a strong framework for developing a more enduring energy policy that can balance the needs for ample energy supplies, reasonable prices, continued environmental improvements, competitiveness and long-term security.

Lott and Dorgan are co-chairmen of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Energy Project.