As the population grows and the demand on our energy resources increases, it has become more and more important for our nation to have an energy policy that focuses on efficiency. Recommendations have been made to help the nation cope with increasing demand by transforming transportation, creating greener energy, and strengthening the technology behind energy efficiency.
(US Crude Oil Imports only expected to steadily increase)
Increasing Energy Efficiency
Increasing energy efficiency begins with educating the nation through federal and state programs to promote user awareness of energy efficiency opportunities in homes and businesses, as well as encouraging capital investments in energy efficient technologies. These can include new ventilation and water systems – for both residential and commercial sectors, as well as establishing a minimum efficiency standard for products and buildings. Additionally, more research in the transmission and distribution fields is needed to reduce energy losses in electric power generation.
The national energy policy should include a strategy for implementing more electric public transit and promoting hybrid and electric personal vehicles. Better electric vehicles will depend on better battery technology, so funding for battery technology research and a battery charging transportation infrastructure is also a necessary part of the national energy plan. These types of policies will help conserve oil and reduce emissions.
Legislation to mandate fuel flexible vehicles – those that have the option to run on more than one type of fuel – would aid in creating more efficient transportation. Promotion of fuel flexibility in the distribution system would also be necessary. Lastly, research and development to convert sustainable biomass, like algae, into fuel would help ease future dependence on oil.
Creating Greener Energy
Our nation needs energy sources that produce fewer greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. In order to “green” energy through national policy, we need to devote research and development resources for renewable electric power technologies, as well as promote the use of renewable energy.
Nuclear power plants are the largest capacity energy sources that emit negligible greenhouse gases. There are 104 nuclear power plants in the United States that have proven themselves to be cost competitive with fossil fuel plants. However, we still need to develop nuclear fuel reprocessing technologies to improve economics and reduce radiation concerns.
Lastly, the national energy policy should include provisions for continuing research and development for clean fuel technologies, including large scale projects for carbon capture and storage at fossil-fueled power plants.
Increasing Available Reserves
A national energy policy with a goal of independence from foreign oil must include provisions for increasing our own oil and gas reserves. Increasing our energy efficiency will help moderate demand for oil, but we must also increase our drilling efforts. Currently, 87% of our technically recoverable offshore acreage is off limits to development by oil and gas operators. Access to offshore areas currently off limits remains a vital missing component of US energy policy that can provide substantial gains in terms of employment, government revenue and energy security. Maintaining tax provisions that incentivize drilling and energy security would also help to increase available oil and gas reserves.
A National Energy Policy – Increasingly Important
A national energy policy that encompasses the recommendations above will help our nation reduce dependence on foreign oil. Demand on energy resources is going to increase in the future, so energy efficiency, efficient transportation, greener energy, and increased oil and gas reserves will only become more important.
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