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The New US Energy Policy Act between Climate Policy and State Action

The New US Energy Policy Act between Climate Policy and State Action

20 February 2006

tierneyThe US energy and climate policy was the topic of the Transatlantic Climate Dinner in honour of Dr. Susan F. Tierney, Managing Principal at Analysis Group, Boston. Against the backdrop of the new US Energy Policy Act, participants at the event discussed, trends and developments in the field of energy policy in the US and in Europe with a focus on climate and security related questions. This Transatlantic Climate Dinner took place on 20 February 2006 in Berlin.

The event opened with a statement by Susan Tierney. Dr. Tierney, a Managing Principal at Analysis Group, is an expert on energy policy, regulation and economics. She serves on a number of boards of directors and advisory committees, including the National Commission on Energy Policy (NCEP). She is a member of the Harvard Electric Policy Group. Prior to joining Analysis Group, she worked i.a. in the U.S. Department of Energy and taught at the University of California, Irvine.

To start with, Susan Tierney elaborated on the content and structures of the Energy Policy Act and especially on the tax-incentives. She underlined the far-reaching effects on nuclear energy and the incentives for energy efficiency and renewable energies.

Building on that, she explained the position of the US American business community and their reaction to climate change. She focused on two positions within the energy sector: One which wants President Bush to act now as they fear that any other President would impose more far-reaching measures; the other which supports a "real“ climate change programme and even mandatory caps on emissions.

Last but not least, Susan Tierney discussed the position and role of civil society – especially foundations – and the climate and energy policies on a sub-national level.

In the animated discussion, the following issues were addressed:

  1. A controversial discussion developed around the issue of nuclear energy: High gas prices and subsidies seem to be spurring this technology on in the US. There have even been plans to build new reactors. Furthermore, President Bush has recently shown interest in reprocessing. However, the question of waste disposal remains unsolved, though the public debate seems to be uninterested in the risks of an accident. One possible reason for that might be the tax money flowing into communities from nuclear plants.

    Similar tendencies towards a (new) support for nuclear energy can be observed in Europe. But it is questionable if the big energy utilities will invest in such a contested area in Europe. Nevertheless, they might do so in developing countries and emerging economies.

    The participants of the Transatlantic Climate Dinner controversially discussed the question, if nuclear energy could and should be (together with renewable sources) a valid option for the future and what role gas and coal should play in this regard. 
  • Climate change and environmental questions cannot be expected to play an important role in the election campaigns in the US. Nevertheless, any US government will have an interest in avoiding or at least reducing political dependencies related to energy supply. This is all the more true as it can be expected that in the future oil-import will come from geopolitical unstable regions.
  • Public awareness of energy and climate related problems differs greatly between regions. It is possible to talk about „two Americas“ in this regard. Business on the other hand already prepare for a „different world“ as far as climate protection policy as well as energy supply structures are concerned.

After the official discussion drew to an end, the participants enjoyed a glass of American wine and engaged in talks in smaller groups in the beautiful “Kaisersaal” at Potsdamer Platz.

This Transatlantic Climate Dinner was organised by Ecologic and is jointly funded by Ecologic and the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

Further links:

Susan F. Tierney
20 February 2006
Berlin, Germany