James Jones: The Mission Ahead

Question: What principles guide your energy policy?

 

James Jones: Obviously, we need to do much better at diversifying the supply base. We’re obviously overcommitted on one particular aspect, and that’s oil and perhaps gas at some point, but certainly oil. The transference of wealth to other countries is historic and certainly not what we would recommend in terms of a level playing field.

But we think that with the diversity that we can bring, the technology that we can muster to harness this diversity, the reliability, the affordability, the respect for the environment and climate and also bringing into focus the urgent need to modernize and improve our infrastructure, are some of the things that just have to be addressed comprehensively.

 

James Jones: We suggest that it’s time to consider an end to the moratorium on the production of oil and gas off our lands and off our shores. This is something that should be discussed and it shouldn’t be rejected out of hand. We propose increasing research and development, incentivizing research for clean coal technology, including carbon capture and storage. Again, more needs to be done on this issue. We think we should invest in alternative fuels and renewable energy. We should get serious about energy efficiency across our sectors. And we should modernize and protect the energy infrastructure that we have. And we should provide for a new and more streamlined regulatory framework for energy investments, but one that is much more rapid and much more agile so that we can deal with the problem in real time.

 

James Jones: The nuclear sector has to be reenergized and reinvented. We led that field for many, many years but we haven’t built a nuclear power plant in this country in over 30 years. Getting that started again is going to take some incentives and some guarantees that only the government can give for people who are going to invest billions of dollars to bring this online.

 

James Jones: Around the country, we have an awful lot of universities that have labs. We have science and technology centers that are working on this.

The good news is, in a free market like we have, is that people have figured this out long before people like me have and they’ve been working on it for years. The question is how do you harness it? How do you bring it all together? And what’s the right level of support that the government has to bring to incentivize the most promising technologies? And I’ve no doubt that this is the cornerstone to what will solve our problem and restore American leadership on a global scale on a very important problem.

 

Recorded on: November 12, 2008

 

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