US business, academics urge Obama energy plan

12 November 2008 22:08  [Source: ICIS news]

Charles HollidayWASHINGTON (ICIS news)--A broad coalition headed by DuPont chief executive Charles Holliday on Wednesday called on the incoming Obama administration to initiate a comprehensive energy policy within 100 days of taking office.


The Council on Competitiveness urged policymakers close to President-elect Barack Obama to focus quickly on energy issues once Obama is sworn in as the 44th US president on 20 January.


“The priorities and legacy of a new administration often are defined and judged by the actions that are taken within its first 100 days,” the coalition said, adding that the nation’s economic competitiveness, security and prosperity may be determined by the Obama administration’s first steps in energy policy.


The council, for which Holliday serves as chairman, urged the new administration to “immediately develop and utilise all sources of energy in America - including oil, gas, coal, nuclear, hydro, wind, solar, biofuels and geothermal” among others.


The group, comprised of 157 academic, corporate and union officials, also called for a $200bn (€160bn) national clean energy bank to provide financing and incentives for private investment in developing sustainable energy solutions and infrastructure.


The council also called for a doubling of US federal funding for basic research and workplace training incentives for workers who do not go to college but who need mid-level skills to be competitive in the labour market.


Holliday told a press conference that it is essential that the US work to develop all of its energy resources, including alternative technologies such as biofuels.


“If we allow the short-term drop in oil prices to let us take our eye of the potential for alternatives, we will have missed a great opportunity,” he said.


The council’s call for an Obama administration focus on energy includes recommendations that federal departments use their purchasing power to encourage energy efficiencies and conservation.


Asked whether he believes the 111th US Congress that convenes in January and the new Obama administration will support and advance offshore drilling, Holliday said he is “confident that the Obama administration will do the right thing”.


The US chemicals industry is heavily dependent on natural gas as a feedstock and energy fuel. The industry won a major victory in September this year when Congress allowed its 27-year-old moratorium on energy drilling along most US offshore areas to expire.


However, Democrat leaders in Congress - who will have a much stronger majority in both the House and Senate next year because of the election outcome - have said they will seek to have the offshore drilling ban restored.


John Podesta, head of Obama’s transition team, has already indicated that Obama will overturn some of the onshore energy development leases recently issued by the Interior Department under President George Bush.


($1 = €0.80)


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