With the 2016 U.S. election just two weeks from today, several organizations have released reports examining the energy-related issues confronting the next president. Earlier this month the Nicholas Institute at Duke published a report on the energy and environmental issues facing the next president, and last week the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) published a report entitled Increasing Prosperity, Resource Stewardship, and National Security: An Energy Policy Strategy for the Next President.
The CNAS report identifies vulnerabilities to both the international and U.S. energy systems that the next administration will have to address. Internationally, the report focuses on geopolitical unrest in major energy producing regions, as well as developments in Europe, such as the recent U.K. vote to leave the European Union, that have hindered Europe’s ability to coordinate on energy-related issues. At the national level, the report identifies several vulnerabilities related to infrastructure. The increasing prevalence of renewable resources and distributed generation necessitates a modernizing of the U.S. electric system, and, even aside from grid modernization issues, existing energy infrastructure is aging and requires further investment to avoid congestion problems. The report is also concerned that the domestic energy system is at major risk of a physical or cyber attack, or natural disaster, either of which could have widespread economic consequences.
The CNAS report concludes with policy recommendations and outlines a bipartisan energy agenda for the first 100 days of the next administration. While two of the report’s authors disagree in some areas, one having served under President George W. Bush and another having served under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Bill Clinton, they focus on a set of policies on which they believe there can be broad agreement across the political spectrum.
These recommendations include modernizing, upgrading, and expanding the U.S. electricity system to keep up with new energy sources and new physical and cyber threats. Relatedly, the report recommends improving the infrastructure permitting process and proposes specific changes, such as having FERC, rather than the Department of State, conduct the environmental assessment of cross-border oil pipelines. On the international side, the report recommends that the Department of State’s Bureau of Energy Resources and the Department of Energy’s Office of International Affairs engage in proactive diplomacy towards vulnerable oil-producing regions to ensure the stability and security of energy resources