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Posted: January 06, 2011

Federal energy policy: Why it isn’t happening

The current approach pits state against state

Martha Young

A recent forum sponsored by law firm Polsinelli Shughart underscored the problem with energy policy. Kenny Hulshof, a former House representative from Missouri, hit the core issue squarely when he said, "Energy is a parochial issue."

That's exactly the problem.

As the federal government seeks to develop an energy policy that is good for the entire country, it is looking at a single source solution, the parochial problem. Our esteemed representatives are failing to take into consideration that the perfect solution is a portfolio of energy sources, not a single source. This methodology of decision-making pits those states with abundant coal against those with abundant oil and gas, against those with abundant wind, against those with abundant solar. Clearly, this country has been blessed with numerous abundant energy resources. This presents the not so small problem of getting past the idea of one industry or one state being the sole source for addressing all energy requirements across the country.

Anita R. Estell, one of the panelists and also a Polsinelli Shughart shareholder, commented, "The government needs a generational retooling." Yes, and with the retooling comes the ability to think in terms of the best solution for the problem at hand rather than sole sourcing. It is truly absurd to even consider that the energy generated off the ocean tides off the coast of Massachusetts should be transmitted to Ohio or Kansas.

Secretary Chu and Secretary Salazar often cite U.S. addiction to foreign oil as a national security issue. The solution is distributed power generation, using the best natural resource within a given region in the country. Logically, multiple energy sources are the best answer to thwarting terrorist attacks on the overall US power grid.

Apparently, General Electric agrees with this idea. The day after the conference, I received a press release from the firm announcing it had reached its goal of investing $6 billion over several years. See the release here. What is interesting about the release is the map showing where and types of investments made. The diversity of energy investments is amazing.

In a brief conversation with Ms. Estell after the conference I asked her how to get the "generational retooling" message to resonate with members of Congress. Her answer, "it has to be a grass roots effort. Everyone must become politically involved."

The bottom line: Colorado has a wide variety of energy sources. Get involved and let your legislators know that you want all of them developed to maximize our economic base.

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Martha Young is principal at NovaAmber, LLC, a business strategy company based in Golden. Young has held positions as industry analyst, director of market research, competitive intelligence analyst, and sales associate. She has written books, articles, and papers regarding the intersection of technology and business for over 15 years. She has co-authored four books on the topics of virtual business processes, virtual business implementations, and project management for IT. Young can be reached at or on Twitter @myoung_vbiz




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