Energy analysis: Good for Oklahoma, America

MARCH 23, 2009 – Jim Roth, alternative energy attorney, discusses the importance of researching energy options to develop policies in his weekly energy column for The Journal Record. Naming the newly formed National Energy Policy Institute, a nonprofit Tulsa-based organization, as a step in the right direction, Roth delves into a step-by-step process through which the nation can reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and imported oil.

Roth: Energy analysis: Good for Okla., good for America

Native Oklahomans George and Cookie Kaiser, through the George Kaiser Family Foundation, have committed important dollars to be the catalyst for an in-depth study to develop a national energy policy to produce energy independence and reduce greenhouse gases. That’s a win-win.

The George Kaiser Family Foundation and the University of Tulsa formalized a partnership to advance scholarship and research for the National Energy Policy Institute, a nonprofit Tulsa-based organization that will be housed on the TU campus with access to its exceptional research capabilities and broad energy knowledge.

“We all know our dependence on imported oil puts our national security at risk,” said George Kaiser, an Oklahoma entrepreneur and philanthropist. “We urgently need to start a rational national energy policy by scoring and ranking our strategies on the cost of reducing imported oil and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Analyzing this with America’s best experts is the first task of NEPI.” It truly is altruistic.

Kaiser’s career has been in the oil business, but he believes that more drilling is not the only answer. The NEPI will look at many short- and long-term options, from compressed natural gas for automobiles to wind, solar, geothermal and new nuclear plants for home and business energy needs.

Studies by the nonprofit will keep Tulsa as an energy research center, including next-generation energy technology. “Tulsa and Oklahoma have long provided national energy leadership in oil and gas,” Kaiser said. “It is now time to forge a new energy role in Tulsa at the leading edge of technology and sustainable energy development.” This is exciting for the energy horizon of Tulsa, for Oklahoma and for America.

The Kaiser Family Foundation first announced the formation of NEPI in September, and named Tony Knowles, another native Oklahoman from Tulsa and former governor of Alaska, as its executive director. Knowles has extensive energy industry knowledge, having served two terms as chair of the Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission. He has a strong reputation and work ethic and seems gifted with a long vision towards solutions.

Among its first initiatives, NEPI began a project with Resources for the Future (RFF), an independent research institution and a national leader in energy, economic and environmental policy development. That project seeks to score and rank strategies by the cost of reducing imported oil and greenhouse gas emissions. Although RFF is headquartered in Washington, D.C., its research scope is worldwide.

Initial strategies to be analyzed and ranked will include: transportation policies such as fuel economy and carbon content standards; deployment of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles; energy-efficiency policies, such as building codes and appliance standards; electricity generation from renewable sources; expansion of nuclear power; basic and applied R&D in clean-energy technologies and study of domestic hydrocarbon options, biofuels and natural gas vehicles.

The endeavor even sounds smart. It will use consistent quantitative measurements to rank the energy options. Using the energy-economic modeling framework from the National Energy Modeling System (NEMS) supported by the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA), a range of diverse policies and policy combinations will be scored and ranked on the metrics of:

A. Cost per barrel of imported oil reduced (as well as of all oil reduced).

B. Cost per ton of carbon (and greenhouse gas equivalent) emissions reduced.

C. Barrels of imported (and total) oil reduced.

D. Tons of carbon (and greenhouse gas equivalent) emissions reduced.

“If we do this right, America will be a better, stronger nation,” Kaiser said.

Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor, who was on hand for the formal signing ceremony, rightly predicted this partnership and its focus, which will pave the way for Tulsa’s continued importance in America’s energy realm for this new century, just as we were for the last.

I attended the announcement and was proud of what this important Oklahoma investment means to us today, but more importantly, what it can mean for those generations that follow. Imagine a real energy plan based upon actual quantified research and not politics. My apologies go to those growing corn with congressional handouts.