Coalition Brings Adversaries Together to Pursue New Direction in U.S. Energy Policy

June 1, 2003
Washington, D.C., -- The Energy Future Coalition, an ambitious, 18-month effort by business, labor and environmental groups to bridge their differences

Washington, D.C., -- The Energy Future Coalition, an ambitious, 18-month effort by business, labor and environmental groups to bridge their differences and identify energy policy options with broad political support, today released its first report outlining its recommendations. The coalition's primary focus is on politically achievable public policy solutions that use the market to accelerate the adoption of technologies that reduce carbon emissions and oil consumption and that broaden global access to energy.

These include incentives to build advanced fuel-efficient vehicles in the U.S., developing home-grown alternatives to oil, and modernizing the nation's electric power network to make it more reliable and secure.

"The coalition brings together longtime adversaries to take the energy policy-making process in a new direction," said Timothy E. Wirth, President of the United Nations Foundation, former U.S. Senator and member of the coalition steering committee. "You might be surprised that we agree about anything -- but we stand together because this is not a partisan issue -- it's about our future and the kind of world we live in and leave for our children.

"We found broad agreement on the need to address three great energy challenges -- global oil dependence, the risk of climate change, and the need for modern energy to enable economic development," Wirth said. "Speeding new technologies into the market can start us down that path and create jobs and economic growth."

Established with support from several private foundations, including the Turner Foundation and the Better World Fund, the coalition is led by a steering committee composed of prominent leaders from the business, labor, environmental, and funding communities. In addition to Sen. Wirth, the committee includes C. Boyden Gray, partner at Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering and former Counsel to President George H.W. Bush; John Podesta, visiting professor of law at Georgetown University and former Chief of Staff to President Bill Clinton; and Michael V. Finley, president of the Turner Foundation.

Gray said, "We cannot continue on our current course. Despite the efforts of seven presidents to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, our economy and living standards are still hostage to forces beyond our control. Every recession in the last 40 years was preceded by a significant increase in oil prices. And as we all know too well, supply disruptions and price shocks are not the only risks of our oil dependence. I am heartened that leaders from the automobile industry, labor and environmental groups all agree on the need to promote advanced vehicles and cleaner, alternative fuels."

"At a time when our economy is struggling to create jobs, the right kind of energy program with the right kind of investments can produce real job growth and at the same time reduce the emissions that are heating up the planet," said Podesta. "Isn't that the legacy we want to leave for our children and grandchildren? What this coalition is all about is trying a different approach -- identifying options that can attract broad support and move us toward our common goals."

Summary of Working Group Recommendations

Smart Grid: Develop a digitally controlled transmission network that is more stable and secure and that can handle electricity generated by a variety of "distributed" sources (such as fuel cells and solar cells), increasing efficiency and reducing emissions.

Bioenergy & Agriculture: Hold a Department of Defense competition, or "fly-off," of novel technologies, with the objective of building 5 to 10 demonstration plants to prove the viability of converting various forms of biomass to fuels and other products at commercial scale. Shift agricultural export subsidies to support new markets for bio-based products.

Advanced Vehicles: Use tax incentives to support conversion of US manufacturing plants to advanced fuel-efficient vehicles such as hybrids, and jump-start consumer acceptance. Invest in aggressive development of fuel cells and the infrastructure to supply hydrogen for fuel cell-powered vehicles.

International: Support dissemination of clean energy technologies in developing countries, and attract private capital through tax-advantaged Global Development Bonds to secure investments in such projects. Create U.S. Energy and Development Council as private-sector voice for increasing global access to modern energy services.

Future of Coal: Intensify R&D on ways to use coal without damaging the climate. Expand efforts to demonstrate technologies for capturing carbon dioxide from power plants and disposing of it underground.

End-Use Efficiency: Provide federal co-funding to expand innovative state and utility energy efficiency programs and expand the federal Energy Starprograms.

Other steering committee members are: Frances Beinecke, Natural Resources Defense Council; Charles B. Curtis, Nuclear Threat Initiative and former Deputy Secretary of Energy; Susan Eisenhower, The Eisenhower Institute; Maggie Fox, Sierra Club; Robert W. Fri, Resources for the Future; F. Henry Habicht II, Global Environment and Technology Foundation; Martin S. Kaplan, Hale and Dorr and the V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation; Thomas E. Lovejoy, The H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment; John Peterson Myers, formerly of the W. Alton Jones Foundation; and Gerald M. Shea, AFL-CIO. More information on the Energy Future Coalition and its report can be found at