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IEA Ministerial Press Briefing

May 14, 2007 - 12:55pm

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Remarks Prepared for Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman

Just a few words at the outset, and then I'll be happy to take questions.

As an organization the IEA was founded to coordinate the response to supply disruptions.  Its ability to do this was put to the test after the U.S. Gulf Coast hurricanes almost two years ago, and I'd say it worked well, and the U.S. is very appreciative of the IEA's collective response.

But we have another great opportunity to put the IEA to good use - to coordinate our efforts to address short and long term energy security concerns facing each one of us.

The challenges are significant - and by now we all know them well - growing demand, rising prices, increased instances of resource manipulation and limited access and greater attention to environmental and climate concerns.

And the needs are no less obvious - all nations need a reliable, affordable, clean supply of energy in order to ensure continued economic growth and prosperity.

The question then is "What is the most effective way to deal with this set of circumstances?"

As the world's largest economy and the world's largest energy consumer, President Bush believes that the United States must play a leadership role in answering that question.

To that end, we have articulated a comprehensive, international strategy to increase U.S. and global energy security, we are taking action to advance it in the U.S, and we have called on all responsible nations to join us in pursuing five goals:

  1. We must diversify the available supply of conventional fuels and expand production to diffuse the risk of supply disruptions.  This requires not only a diversity of supplies and diversity of suppliers, as well as stable investment climates and access to resources for development.  To this end, we are looking at ways to expand hydrocarbon production in environmentally responsible ways offshore and looking to increase our ability to import more LNG.
  2. We must diversify our energy portfolios to include more alternative and renewable energy sources including biofuels, solar, wind and even nuclear.  This will relieve pressure on energy markets and yield positive environmental benefits.  In the U.S., we have initiated the Advanced Energy Initiative which provides support for research and development and support for deployment and commercialization of renewable and alternative energy sources, and the "20 in 10" plan that mandates a 20% reduction in projected gasoline usage in the next 10 years.
  3. We must increase energy efficiency and conservation efforts both by individual consumers and in our industrial sector - through these efforts there is potential for significant savings.   We are engaged in an aggressive effort to help our most energy-intensive industries identify ways to save energy and money by becoming more efficient.
  4. We must reduce our impact on the environment and deal with the serious challenges of climate change.   This is a global challenge and requires a global solution, and we believe that it must be addressed in the context of energy security and economic growth.  The United States believes that technology offers us the opportunity to reduce emissions and maintain economic growth - an approach that was validated by the most recent UN IPCC report.  Since 2001, we have spent over $35 billion on climate related science, technology development, and international partnerships to combat climate change.
  5. And last, we must maintain and protect critical infrastructure and take steps to mitigate the impacts of potential supply disruptions.  This includes distribution and shipping routes such as pipelines and sea lanes, and refining and production facilities.  It also includes the effective management of strategic petroleum reserves.

The common thread through all these goals is the need for INVESTMENT throughout the energy supply chain.

U.S. is working in various ways to support and facilitate private sector efforts particularly in areas where they cannot or will not take the risk, for example -

  • Funding of basic science
  • Cost-sharing initiatives in biofuels and solar energy
  • Loan guarantees for novel and clean energy technologies
  • Risk Insurance for new nuclear plants
  • Production tax credits

And so over the next two days at IEA, I would hope that we will have the opportunity to discuss what we in government should be doing to promote investment in the energy sector - both in the traditional hydrocarbon sector and in renewable and alternative energy technologies.

And when I say this, I really mean, what should governments be doing to stimulate private sector investment of the size and scope necessary to help tackle these challenges?  Because while government investment is certainly important, it is the private sector that will ultimately lead the way.

So, I hope to raise three important questions for discussion -

What is the best way to leverage government action in a coordinated way to drive private sector investment into both the traditional hydrocarbon sector, and into emerging clean energy technology markets to increase energy supplies, relieve pressure on energy markets and meet growing demand in an environmentally sustainable way?

What steps can we take individually to establish a regulatory environment that encourages investment and how as a group can we better harmonize our regulatory environments and standards to facilitate investment globally?

What are we prepared to do to address barriers preventing widespread deployment of clean energy technologies and advanced equipment?

We are at a critical juncture, and as leaders it is our responsibility to not only identify challenges but aggressively pursue creative ways to develop solutions.

Before I take questions, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the critical role that the IEA and its members played in helping the United States respond to the devastating hurricanes of 2005.  We greatly appreciate their quick response, and I'm happy to be here to express my thanks in person.

Location: Paris, France

Media contact(s): Anne Kolton, (202) 586-4940

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