U.S. energy policy must match energy innovation

August 12, 2016

By Sen. Mike Crapo

The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s most recent Monthly Energy Review reflects that during the past six decades, our nation’s energy production and consumption rates have nearly doubled. In EIA’s Annual Outlook 2016, it estimates globally energy consumption will increase by another 48 percent by 2040. No doubt energy conservation will be important, but it is critical that our nation’s federal energy policy keep pace with global demand and the advancements in technology for the U.S. to be energy-independent and a supplier of energy to the world.


The federal government has been woefully behind in establishing a comprehensive, national energy strategy that helps our nation stay on the forefront of energy technological advancements. U.S. energy policy should better embrace the smarter, cleaner and more efficient use of all forms of energy. We should aggressively promote development, while at the same time investing in the technologies that will unlock additional energy resources and enhance the sustainability of existing sources. All changes to U.S. energy policy should be coherent and include an all-of-the-above approach to meet our nation’s energy needs.


A successful national energy policy should be shaped like any sound financial portfolio made up of many different energy sources. We are fortunate to have tremendous energy resources in the U.S., from nuclear to fossil fuels to solar, geothermal and biomass, and we must utilize as many of these sources as we can to broaden our energy portfolio.


As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, with jurisdiction over federal tax policy, I recognize the importancwe of sound energy tax policy to a functional, overall national energy policy. Our current tax code would better enable a functional national energy policy by adhering to the following principles:


As with all energy policy, energy tax policies should be technology-inclusive and encourage the exploration, development and security of all energy resources.


The tax code must be flexible enough to withstand technological breakthroughs and continue to encourage affordable, reliable, clean, innovative energy without requiring legislative changes. It should not be proscriptive.


Energy tax policy should encourage economic growth, not constrain it.


A segment that is seeing recent advancements in updating federal policy is the nuclear energy sector. The use of clean nuclear energy is a vital part of a forward-looking domestic energy portfolio. I have been working to enact legislation to spur innovation in nuclear energy and ensure that the cutting-edge work at the Idaho National Laboratory helps our nation’s energy security by providing a path for private companies to test and refine scientific concepts using the national labs, then take those concepts through the regulatory process to market.


I am hopeful that we can build on the recent and overdue progress made in updating federal nuclear energy policy to institute a reasoned energy plan that updates policy for other energy sources. Stimulating domestic oil and gas production, increasing our hydropower capacity and advancing solar, biofuels, geothermal and other current and future energy sources are also among the necessary parts of an overall comprehensive energy strategy that promotes energy security, reduces reliance on imported energy sources and spurs domestic job creation.


This column was submitted by U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho Falls.