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Americas Energy Choices 2012 Edition

Americas Energy Choices 2012 Edition

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The paper details a range of options for America’s energy future, ranging from coal to natural gas and from solar to tidal power. The report sets out how each contributes to America’s energy make-up and how our business and political leaders should weigh the competing priorities of energy security, economic stability, and environmental sustainability when making decisions.
The paper details a range of options for America’s energy future, ranging from coal to natural gas and from solar to tidal power. The report sets out how each contributes to America’s energy make-up and how our business and political leaders should weigh the competing priorities of energy security, economic stability, and environmental sustainability when making decisions.

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Published by: The American Security Project on Feb 29, 2012
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www.AmericanSecurityProject.org1100 New York Avenue, NW Suite 710W Washington, DC
Aeca’EegChce
Adew Hllad
2012 Ed
In Brief:
•Americaneedsmoreenergyofallsorts,butespeciallyelectricity.•By2035,U.S.electricitydemandwillincreaseby25%.•By2050,allpresentU.S.electricity-generationpowerplantswillneedtobereplaced.•Wehavetomakechoicesonwhatenergymixweneedinthefuture–thepresentsituationis
 geopolitically 
,
environmentally 
,and
economically 
unsustainable.•America’senergychoicesshouldbeconsideredinlightofthreeconcerns:
- Energy Security - Economic Stability - Environmental Sustainability 
•erearethreebroadcategoriesofenergytochoosefrom:FossilFuels,NuclearEnergy,andRenewablepower.Withineachofthesecategoriesareabroadrangeofchoices,eachofwhichwillhavepositivesandnegativesineachofthethreeareas.efollowingpaperlaysoutthefacts,matchingthe10mostimportantenergychoicestotheconcernstoallowpolicymakerstomakeinformeddecisions.
 Andrew Holland is the Senior Fellow for Energy and Climate at the American Security Project.
 
2
 AmEriCAn sECurity projECt
Aeca’ Eeg Chce
T
hirty-sevenyearsago,PresidentRichardNixonannouncedanationalgoalthatby“theyear1980,theUnitedStateswillnotbedependentonanyothercountryfortheenergyweneedtoprovideourjobs,toheatourhomes,andtokeepourtransportationmoving.”
1
Sincethis1974StateoftheUnionaddress,giveninthemidstofanembargoofoilexportstotheUnitedStatesanditsallies,somesortof‘energyindependence’hasbeenastatedpolicyofeveryPresidentialadministration.Regardlessofthisrhetoric,however,theUnitedStateshasnotcomeanywherenear‘energyindependence.’Today,energypolicyisbackatthecenterofnationalaairs.Partlythisisbecauseonceagain,forthesecondtimeinthreeyears,theglobalpriceofoilhasjumpedtonear-recordterritory.eurgencyoftheenergydebatetoday,however,isaboutmorethansimplygasolineprices.EnvironmentalconcernsarebringingtheverybasisofAmerica’senergysystemintoquestion:theevidencethathumanfossilfuelusecontributestoclimatechangebecomesmoreunequivocaleveryday. Americasforeignpolicyisconstrainedbyquestionsofenergysecurity,assupportfordemocraticrevolutionsacrossthe ArabworldhastobebalancedbyapreferenceforstabilityinthemajoroilproducingnationsaroundthePersianGulf.EnergyinfrastructureacrosstheUnitedStatesisshowingitsageasthepowergridstrugglestomeetdemandandpowerplantsnearretirement.Meanwhile,advancesinnewtechnologiesholdthepromiseofplentifulenergyrequiringlittleornofuel;butsignicantresearchfundingisrequired.Policymakerswillhavetoaddressthesechallengeswhilealsoprovidingfora15%increaseintotalenergydemandacrosstheUnitedStates,includinga25%increaseinelectricitydemandby2035.Allofthiswillhappeninaworld wheretotalenergydemandsareexpectedtoincreaseby50%,drivenbyunprecedentedeconomicgrowthindevelopingcountriessuchasBrazil,China,andIndia.esechallengesaresignicant–butnoneofthemareaquestionofyesorno,either/or,doordonot.Instead,howtheUnitedStatesmeetsthosechallengeswillrequirechoices–strategicdecisionsaboutinfrastructureinvestment,governmentpolicy,researchfunding,andevenforeignpolicy.esechallengescannotbemetbyslogansorpoliticalsound-bites.eseareimportantdecisionsrequiringaninformedandwide-rangingdebate–nottrenchwarfareoversmallissues.etimeforrhetoricandposturingonenergyissuesisswiftlyapproachingitsend.etimeforaction,ortheconsequencesofinaction,isapproaching.
Source: EIA Annual Energy Outlook 2011, http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/MT_intl.cfm
 
3
 Assessing America’s 21
st 
Century Energy Choices
T
oday,theUnitedStatesfacesaseriesofchoicesthatwilldeterminehowitseconomyispoweredtomeettheneedsofthe21stcentury.HowAmericachoosestoreplaceandexpanditsenergysupplywillaectthehealthoftheworld’senvironment,Americasnationalsecurity,andthewell-beingoftheU.S.economy.However,thepoliticaldebatedoesnothaveaneectivevocabularytodiscussthecostsandbenetsofdierentchoices.Policymakerstoooftenmakeargumentsaboutenergybasedonwhichwill‘sell’thebestinordertotadecisionalreadymade.Instead,policymakersshouldlookattheoptionsandweighthetradeosforeach.Becausetherearetradeos–decisionmakersshouldnotpretendtherearesilverbulletsthatwillautomaticallybringcheap,clean,domesticenergytoall.ispaperwillattempttooutlineamatrixofpolicychoicesforthegovernment,utilities,andtheprivatesectortoconsider.ItwilllookattendierentoptionsforhowtofuelAmerica’seconomy,eachofwhichwillbeconsideredinlightofthreeconcerns:
(1) Energy Security;(2) Economic Stability; and(3) Environmental Sustainability.
Sometimesthesetermsaresimplybuzzwords,soitisimportanttospecicallydeneeach.
Energy Security 
 A 
nalytically,‘energysecurity’isdiculttoquantify.PresidentJimmyCarterdenedenergysecurityina1977speechas“independenceofeconomicandpoliticalaction”ininternationalaairs.
2
eUnitedStatesshouldbeabletodeneitsinterestsoverseasindependentlyfromhowitusesenergydomestically.Importantly,‘energysecurity’doesnotmean‘energyindependence’inthesensethatalloftheenergyusedintheUnitedStatescomesfromwithinitsborderswithoutinternationaltrade.isisneitherobtainablenordesirableinaglobalized world.Inaddition,energysecuritydoesnotdependonthepercentageofsupplythatisimported.Inaworldofgloballytradedcommodities,itisnolongerpossibletobetrulyenergyindependent:evendomesticallyproducedenergysourcesaresubjecttouctuationsinglobalcommoditymarkets.Sincetheoilpricecrisesofthe1970s,theriskofabsolutesupplyshortageshasbeenreducedsignicantly.ecreationoftheInternationalEnergyAgency(IEA)anditsrequirementthatallmembercountriesholdoilstockscapableofreplacing90days’worthofimportsactsasabueragainstdisruptionsinoilsupplies.eU.S.StrategicPetroleumReservecansubstitutefor,onaverage,75days’worthofoilimportsasofJune2011,andprivatelyheldreservesaccountfortheadditionaldaysofimports.
3
 Althoughspeculatorsaresometimesblamedforinatingprices,thedeepeningofinternationalfuturestradingmarketsallowspricesignalstogivewarningsofimpendingsupplyanddemandimbalances.Today,then,fortheUnitedStates,energysecurityconcernsarenolongeraboutphysicaldisruptionsinsupply.eseconcernsstemfromthepossibility

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