Whatever the Vehicle, Balance is Key
By David Holt, President, Consumer Energy Alliance

Despite dramatic advances in energy production in the last several years, the United States continues to a lack a clearly defined national energy policy. Lack of sustained activity at the congressional level has effectively forced policy making in to the hands of federal regulators, many of whom remain constrained by limited resources and near constant litigation by groups opposed to energy production (of any kind). This situation is not only undesirable; it imperils the short- and long-term availability of dependable, affordable energy for consumers.

Implementing a balanced energy policy has less to do with the legislative vehicle, and more to do with lawmakers aligning on a coherent and forward-looking strategy that plays to our energy strengths and aims to keep energy prices low. To address the challenges of today and tomorrow, CEA urges policy makers to make the following recommendations top priorities:

· Expand access to domestic energy resources including onshore and offshore oil and natural gas and unconventional oil and natural gas resources;

· Advance efforts to improve and streamline the regulatory process for energy production and energy infrastructure projects;

· Support vital energy infrastructure maintenance and expansion projects;

· Focus federal support for development of alternative and renewable energies on research, development, and demonstration efforts;

· Promote efficiency and sustainability practices; and

· Expand science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and job-training opportunities related to the energy sector.

Energy production is not, nor should ever be, a choice between the environment and development. All energy development – whether it is coal mining or construction of a solar farm – can be done safely so long as industry continues to adhere to best practices and regulators have the resources to oversee projects effectively. The United States is home to some of the world’s most innovative, forward-thinking energy companies, many of which have demonstrated remarkable advances in environmental safety and continue to invest in technology that will further advance energy efficiency, sustainability, and environmental protection.

In the coming years, the United States has a unique opportunity to be the dominant force in energy production and become energy self-sufficient, if policy makers chose the right path forward. The increased capacity for energy production is already having enormous positive geopolitical implications. An energy self-sufficient America, with a balanced national energy policy is a secure, strong, and vibrant America, with a growing economy, improved national security, and standing in the world for decades to come.

CEA urges the Obama Administration and the 113th Congress to work together in a collaborative manner to advance these recommendations, so that pragmatism and the greater good trump politics and party agendas.

Originally posted at National Journal’s Expert Blog