AHC Group

Resolving the conflict between energy and the environment

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Courtesy of AHC Group

This article examines the forces responsible for America's ongoing energy crisis cycle (now over three decades old and still creating impasse), and suggests ways in which industry leaders, environmentalists, government, and the public can work together to eliminate the need for energy development.

THE CHALLENGE FOR CORPORATIONS

Underlying the progress that has been made in the past 30 years and the steps that must be taken over the next several decades to satisfy the demands of our 300 million residents, there exist a few absolutes. Every responsible corporation has within its ranks, from the board level to the smallest operating unit, employees who feel as strongly about environmental protection as does the responsible environmental leader. Every day, these employees observe every aspect of the corporation's operations and insist that human safety, wildlife and nature be protected. This is done because Boards of Directors and CEOs know that shareholders and the public will accept nothing less. Policies, processes and programs to guarantee the highest quality performance are currently in place, but the missing link is the confidence of the environmental community, the media, many in government and much of the public who do not believe that developers are sincere and committed to environmental protection. I submit that energy developers have no choice; they will be committed to minimal environmental impact or they will be punished out of business. The public, the market, the trial lawyers, the activists and shareholders will demand perfection even though it may never be achieved. So, how do we move from the current disconnect to the compromise that will establish a coherent energy policy that protects the interests of all parties, especially the public.

THE CHALLENGE FOR GOVERNMENT

Herein lies the challenge for government. Environmentalists cannot provide energy and cannot cause the public to conserve enough to abandon hydrocarbons. No one has identified the quantity of renewables that we would need to preclude domestic exploration or to reduce imports, and we have not quantified the cost of such a change, if it is to occur. Government has demonstrated that it should not engage in enterprises of this type. It even has difficulty managing the strategic reserves since the use of these reserves always invokes heated political debates. Seed money for research is often provided but congressional gifts in the form of energy research grants seldom produce energy progress of note. At the end of the day, the capital market and the risk takers will satisfy our energy requirements. But, protection of the environment will require the efforts of everyone, not just the environmental community. So how do we get everyone to the energy/environmental table?.

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