Tinker Letter Suggests Bridge to Future

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)

A coordinated approach to energy, economic and environmental policies was called for in aletter delivered to U.S. President-elect Barack Obama and his transition team by AAPG President Scott Tinker.

Tinker said it is important to “build a fossil energy bridge to an alternative energy future,” and he offered some facts and ideas to approach the challenges.

In addressing these challenges, Tinker noted:

  • Global energy demand continues to rise, reflecting growth in population and industrialization. Fossil fuels, such as oil, natural gas and coal supply 87 percent of global energy needs.
  • The global economy is fueled by affordable, reliable energy. If the economy is not healthy, the environment suffers. An interesting paradox: A healthy environment requires a healthy economy, that economy requires energy, and today that energy is largely fossil fuels.

Ideas offered for the president-elect’s consideration were:

  • An abrupt, unilateral shift of our energy portfolio is both unwise and unnecessary, especially when we can leverage the fuels that we have to expand alternatives – a fossil fuel bridge to an alternate energy future.
  • It won’t happen in four or even eight years – not because of entrenched interests or a lack of will, but rather because of the size and scale of global energy markets and infrastructure.
  • The term “energy independence” fails to recognize that in a globalized world, we are interdependent.

Tinker said it would be “far better to advocate energy security,” which would emphasize:

  • Enhanced energy efficiency.
  • Broad diversification of the energy portfolio.
  • A global carbon price that is transparent, stable, economy-wide, uses revenues wisely and coordinated globally. (Does cap and trade satisfy these criteria?)
  • Advancing global energy trade and investment, such as LNG, clean coal, advanced nuclear and scalable renewables.
  • Dialog between developing and developed nations.
  • Balanced education, training and R&D policies.

“Energy security is an achievable goal, both here in the U.S. and across the globe,” Tinker wrote, “but the U.S. must lead by balancing and integrating its economic, energy and environmental policies to deliberately and progressively achieve this shift to a new energy future.

“If we do not lead with a steady and well-considered approach, the world will either continue to use fossil fuels almost exclusively or make abrupt unilateral leaps into an alternative future, either of which would have unintended and severe consequences.

“In 2008 my energy-related travels have taken me to four continents to interact with governments, industry and academe,” he continued. “Your election has created a global buzz unlike anything I’ve seen before. It is an exciting opportunity for the U.S. to provide global leadership.”

The letter is available on the GEO-DC Web Site.

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