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As OPEC Ministers Meet, Secretary Chu Stresses the Importance of Energy Independence

March 15, 2009 - 12:00am

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Washington, DC - As OPEC ministers held a meeting in Vienna Sunday, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu again stressed the need for energy independence and called for global cooperation on energy, economic and climate challenges.

"While OPEC's actions are just one factor among many that go into the market price of oil, I'm pleased that there won't be further production cuts -- which could help to avoid oil price volatility," Secretary Chu said.  "However, I continue to believe that we should stay focused on what our country can do to become energy independent -- ending our dependence on foreign oil and investing in new clean energy sources that will put Americans to work and address the global climate crisis."

Secretary Chu noted that, of the total world oil supply, the U.S. consumes 20 percent and OPEC countries produce about 30 percent -- so even a modest U.S. improvement in fuel efficiency or greater use of mass transit could have a much greater impact on prices than OPEC production decisions.

Over the past several weeks, Secretary Chu has spoken with representatives of a wide range of energy producing and consuming nations to reinforce the Obama Administration's commitment to energy independence and stress the shared opportunities to create jobs and boost the global economy through energy efficiency and the development of lower carbon fuels.

One example of the opportunity for global cooperation Secretary Chu has discussed is the development of carbon capture and sequestration technology from coal-fired power plants that can significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions.  From the U.S. to China to several European Union countries to Australia to Saudi Arabia, many nations are funding research and development of carbon capture and sequestration technologies.  Collaboration and cooperation in this area holds the potential to pilot different experimental technologies in different countries and then learn from the successes and failures of these pilot projects as we improve the technology so it can be broadly deployed.  Co-development of these technologies could reduce the cost and allow for faster implementation in heavily coal dependent nations  -- holding the potential to significantly reduce future greenhouse gas emissions for the benefit of the entire world.

President Obama's investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy sources in the United States as part of his American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will create jobs that can't be outsourced.  Similarly, investments made by other countries to reduce their own dependence on imported oil and develop renewable energy sources will also benefit those economies.  Partnerships to jointly develop more energy efficient building designs that could be implemented from the U.S. to China and beyond also hold the potential to create jobs locally while having global benefits in terms of reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Secretary Chu's discussions over the past several weeks have included:

  • Algeria, Chakib Khelil, Minister of Mining and Energy
  • Australia, Martin Ferguson, Minister for Resources and Energy
  • Brazil, Edison Lobão, Minister of Mines and Energy
  • Canada, Lisa Raitt, Minister of Natural Resources
  • Canada, Jim Prentice, Minister of the Environment
  • Chile, Marcelo Tokman, Minister of Energy
  • Denmark, Connie Hedegaard, Minister for Climate and Energy
  • European Union, Andris Piebalgs, Commissioner of Energy
  • France, Jean-Louis Borloo, Minister for Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development, and Regional Planning
  • Honduras, President Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales
  • Japan, Toshihiro Nikai, Minister of Energy, Trade, and Industry
  • Mexico, Dr. Georgina Kessel, Secretary of Energy
  • Qatar, Abdallah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, Minister of Energy and Industry, and Second Deputy Prime Minister
  • United Kingdom, Tony Blair, Former Prime Minister
  • United Kingdom, Edward Miliband, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

Media contact(s):

(202) 586-4940

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