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U.S. Energy Policy: The Opportunities Available Now

June 16, 2010

UN Foundation President Tim Wirth addressed the annual conference of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association on Thursday, July 8, focusing on the crucial role that natural gas can play in the new energy economy.

He challenged the industry to accelerate their advocacy efforts and cease being adversarial when it comes to vitally important environmental and public health concerns. 

From Senator Wirth’s speech:

“We are at an energy crossroads, and whether the gas industry seizes the opportunities that are so clearly in front of them will determine the direction of this industry for decades.”

“Whether you make the economic case for gas, or the security case, or the climate case – or as I do, all of the above – there are three themes that should run through any game plan:

  • Increase demand by expanding your markets;
  • Minimize the risk of environmental damage and concern; and
  • Make your old enemies your new friends.”

“Unless you help to shape policy, your future will be shaped by others – mainly your competition.  The coal industry has been fiercely effective with Congress and regulatory authorities in defending its turf, and you have to be as well.  But so far your industry has mostly run nice, positive, feel-good advertising, rather than conducting the persistent, aggressive campaign that will be needed for this transition.”

“Just as the old interests have a huge amount to lose, the gas industry has a huge amount to gain.  It is in your interest – perhaps even your #1 priority – to defend EPA’s authority.  This is a battle that gas must win.”

“As a general proposition, natural gas should be a prime partner of the renewable energy industry – you are uniquely equipped to balance out those resources when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow. “

“Now it’s time for a new way – to evolve into a broader coalition that supports responsible production practices, protects water and wildlife habitat, and helps to clean up the air.  With a bigger team, you can win the battle of public opinion and position natural gas as the linchpin of a new energy future.”

Read the full text of the speech here

June 16, 2010 Speech at the National Press Club

In a June 16 speech to United States Energy Association/Johnson Controls Energy Efficiency Forum, United Nations Foundation President Tim Wirth emphasized five crucial components that should form the cornerstones of a new energy policy for the United States.  The speech was given just hours after President Obama addressed the nation in response to the unfolding environmental crisis in the Gulf of Mexico.


From Senator Wirth’s speech: 

“It seems to me that the by-word from all of this is ‘risk.’  We should learn from these experiences.  We should learn from our observations.  We should learn in the context of three major pressures that are out there:

  • One is obviously the environmental challenge and climate change.
  • One is obviously national security.
  • One is obviously the need for economic rebuilding.”

The five key elements of legislation are:

  • Transitioning away from dependence on coal
  • Stimulating technological innovation and clean energy sources
  • Making better use of existing regulatory levers
  • Harnessing natural gas as a low-carbon transition fuel
  • Embracing energy efficiency to reduce waste, save money and create jobs right away

Listen to the speech here