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Secretary Moniz's Remarks at the QER Stakeholders Meeting, Infrastructure Resilience and Vulnerabilities

April 11, 2014 - 11:46am


Thank you, John, and thanks to Melanie. I’d like to add my gratitude and congratulations to Henry Waxman our very good friend, and as already been said, enormous contributor to energy and environment issues over decades.  Since I was labeled as being a professor for 40 years, I think we can share these aged remarks and your decades of service.

I know I’m very confident that Congressman Waxman will continue to make enormous contributions to our energy and environmental future, just from a different perspective, one that will free him from his legendary reticence (laughter).  Henry, thank you so much for what you’ve done.

So, John gave a history of how we got here and what our major objectives are. I’ll just emphasize a few points in these remarks.

One, it has already been stated, but I want to reinforce that the Department of Energy was charged by the President, in his Presidential Memorandum, to provide the Executive Secretariat. That will entail also building, as we have done with EPSA, the analytical capacity and expanding that dramatically.

Having said that, I want to emphasize that this has to be a multi-agency effort to succeed. That will be under the co-chairmanship, as already stated, of John Holdren and Dan Utech. As I’ll come to discuss, there will be a set of regional meetings that were already mentioned. We are envisioning 14 and 15 regional meetings. Those will also engage member other agencies.  I want to make it clear that it’s not just a DOE activity.

The second point is that we have a significantly altered energy landscape in the United States, as we all know. And this landscape has led to tremendous opportunity for our economy, for our energy security, and very importantly of course, for our addressing our environmental challenges, most especially climate change mitigation and adaptation over the next years. But by the same token, this also is the origin of a set of challenges in terms of how the system will evolve.

Clearly, we all understand the natural gas change, also oil production from unconventional sources. In addition, we’re looking at expansion of renewables, we are looking at electric vehicle penetration and many other parts of what we see as the transformation of our clean energy future. 

So, that provides a backdrop. And in these changes, we have seen the challenges of infrastructure.  Of course, just in the last months and certainly years, whether it is the natural gas constraints in New England or the propane constraints we’ve seen recently, or how to catch up with infrastructure to avoid methane emissions or move some of the tight oil.

Of course in the climate context, we’ve seen extreme weather events that have major implications for our energy infrastructure. Whether it’s Sandy, where we also saw the interdependencies of fuels and electricity; or whether it’s the California crisis caused by wildfires; we’ve seen drought challenging our power plants’ operations. We are seeing enormous challenges.

Of course in this QER we want to take an integrated look at all of these challenges and see what it is that can guide investment in our future infrastructure. We can determine we in the Federal Government can do in terms of guiding those mainly private sector investments in a direction that is important for tomorrow, but also important for the decades ahead, characteristic of the lifetime of these investments and recognizing that even as we look at what the Federal Government can do, that is going to entail a tremendous collaboration with the states, which is, again, where a lot of the action will be occurring.

So, that of course, underpins why we think the stakeholder outreach is such a critical part of this process. It involves the Congress, involves the states, and involves the public. This is the first, as we already said now twice, of probably 14 or 15 meetings that we will be holding across the country. Five of those meetings have been announced. Specifically, we’re looking at infrastructure constraints near the Bakken Formation and in New England, transportation constraints in Chicago, electricity transmission, supply and distribution in Portland, and petroleum product transport and distribution in New Orleans, and another whole set of meetings including focus areas, to be announced in the near future.

So that really summarizes what I wanted to emphasize, including the importance of these meetings. And, of course, we are open to other forms of input from all the stakeholders, but these meetings will provide, we hope, important focused opportunities for us to address certain issues. And with that, thank you, and we look forward to your input.