December 1, 2004
Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
This report presents key findings from an intensive, three-year effort to develop consensus recommendations for future U.S. energy policy. Bringing together a diverse and bi-partisan group of leaders from business, government, academia, and the non-profit community, the National Commission on Energy Policy has sought to establish a constructive center in the often polarized debate about energy and to advance a coherent strategy for meeting the energy challenges of the 21stst century that has the economic, environmental, and political integrity to overcome the current stalemate in national energy policy. The first chapter of this report describes a package of measures designed to improve U.S. oil security by increasing global oil supply and reducing growth in domestic demand. The next chapter proposes a mandatory, economy-wide tradable permits system for limiting emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The third and fourth chapters describe a set of complementary proposals for, on the one hand, substantially improving energy efficiency throughout the economy (i.e., in buildings, equipment, industry, and transportation) and, at the same time, promoting energy supply options that advance a number of cross-cutting policy objectives, from reducing the nation's exposure to resource constraints and supply disruptions to reducing climate change risks. Specifically, Chapter IV recommends a number of policies to help ensure adequate supplies of natural gas and to promote the expanded deployment of low-carbon energy alternatives -- including advanced coal technologies with carbon sequestration, next-generation nuclear technology, and renewable sources for electricity production and transportation fuels. Recognizing that a robust and resilient energy infrastructure and healthy markets provide the necessary foundation for ensuring continued access to needed energy resources, Chapter V addresses the need to site critical infrastructure, protect key energy facilities from terrorist attack, and improve the performance and reliability of the nation's electricity system. Finally, the Commission recognizes that continued technological advances are essential to ensure that clean, secure, and affordable energy will be available in the quantities required to sustain long-term economic growth for the United States and the world. In Chapter VI, the Commission therefore recommends that the federal government promote technology innovation in both the public and private sectors by significantly expanding and refocusing federal energy research and development programs.