Lovins Invited to Testify on Energy Security

March 06, 2006 by Jeff Shepard

Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) CEO Amory Lovins will be among the four invited experts who will testify today before the U.S. Senate's Energy Committee on the goal of energy independence. Former CIA Director R. James Woolsey, top oil strategist Dan Yergin, and Susan Cischke, vice president of environmental and safety engineering for Ford Motor Company, will join Mr. Lovins before the Committee.

Lovins, who has briefed two U.S. Presidents and 16 other heads of state on energy policy and has long advised major energy firms and the Departments of Energy and Defense, will report his organization's dramatic new finding: a business-led roadmap for getting the U.S. entirely off oil. He will also explain why that's not enough, because one of the biggest threats to national security is national energy policy.

Lovins will testify that achieving energy independence and security requires three actions: making domestic energy infrastructure, notably electric and gas grids, resilient; phasing out, not expanding, vulnerable facilities and unreliable fuel sources; and ultimately eliminating reliance on oil from any source.

Thus, for example, U.S. policymakers should be concerned about recently attacked Saudi oil facilities whose destruction could crash the global economy; but they should be equally wary of creating an "all-American Strait of Hormuz" by drilling for oil under the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, thus doubling and prolonging dependence on the vulnerable Trans-Alaska Pipeline System.

Lovins will also testify that over-centralized energy systems create other tempting terrorist targets and make regional blackouts bigger and more frequent. He will describe how nuclear power, another centerpiece of Federal energy policy, encourages the spread of nuclear bombs-"correctly identified by the President as the gravest threat to national security"-as is now occurring in Iran.

Lovins will explain how these "self-inflicted security threats" can be eliminated by cheaper, faster, more abundant, and security-enhancing energy alternatives-both comprehensive efficiency and more diverse, dispersed, renewable supplies-that are already winning in the global marketplace. For example, decentralized power generation, a third of it renewable, is already bigger than nuclear power and is growing many times faster, simply because it cuts investors' costs and risks.

Energy efficiency is even cheaper and probably bigger. Such quick, affordable options would, he will suggest, make a better and safer offer to India-modernizing the non-nuclear 97 percent of its electricity system-than boosting the costly nuclear 3 percent.

Lovins's testimony will emphasize Winning the Oil Endgame, an independent, peer-reviewed, detailed, transparent, and uncontested RMI study cosponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Chief of Naval Research, and introduced by former Secretary of State George Shultz and Shell ex-chairman Sir Mark Moody-Stuart. The study shows how existing technologies and innovative business strategies and government policies can eliminate U.S. oil use by the 2040s and revitalize the U.S. economy, without needing new energy taxes, subsidies, mandates, or Federal laws. Welcomed by business and military leaders, the RMI analysis is based on competitive strategy for cars, trucks, planes, oil, and the military. Such powerful forces as Wal-Mart and the Pentagon are already starting to speed its implementation.

"The surest path to an energy policy that enhances security and prosperity is free-market economics," Lovins's prepared testimony concludes: "letting all ways to save or produce energy compete fairly, at honest prices, no matter which kind they are, what technology they use, where they are, how big they are, or who owns them. That would make the energy security, oil, climate, and most proliferation problems fade away, and would make our economy and democracy far stronger."