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OLD GREENWICH, Conn. -- Political in-fighting at the federal level is killing any chance of the nation avoiding an energy abyss within a decade, and the results will be catastrophic, former Shell Oil President John Hofmeister told 400 oil executives earlier this week at the annual IHS Herold Pacesetters Energy Conference here.
"Our national security is at stake, and our economy is at stake. I submit to you that social justice is at stake," said Hofmeister, founder and CEO of Citizens for Affordable Energy, while contending a spike in prices will result in a war between the haves and have-nots -- those who can afford skyrocketing energy costs and those who cannot.
Hofmeister said progress in devising and continuing a sustainable energy policy is impossible as long as it is subject to the whims of the two political parties, according to coverage of his speech by the Connecticut Post. "We're wrapped up in partisan paralysis. We go from left to right and right to left," he said, adding elected officials are forced to act on accelerated "political time."
"These people are continually running for office," said Hofmeister, author of a forthcoming book, "Why We Hate the Oil Companies." "Energy time is decades. We can't wait for an energy abyss to fix this problem. We are squandering time."
Hofmeister's answer for the problem is the creation of a non-political Federal Energy Resources Board, with a board of governors and regional offices, similar to the Federal Reserve System, operating outside the influence of Congress and federal agencies.
He said he has been applauded for his plan as he has traveled across the country, but predicted the idea will fall upon deaf ears at the federal level unless there is a groundswell of public support. "I believe a grassroots movement is what it will take."
Action is needed because the nation is working with an antiquated energy system that can no longer keep up with the demand, Hofmeister said, adding in 1973, some 30 percent of the U.S. crude oil requirements were met through imports, compared with 65 percent today. A nuclear power plant has not been built since the 1980s, and 100 new coal burning plants have been cancelled in the past five years, he noted.
"We process 7 million barrels of (domestic) oil a day and import 14 million," said Hofmeister, who voiced his support of alternative energy sources, but said they will not be enough to meet power needs, according to the report.
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