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WASHINGTON -- At the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for 21st Century Energy yesterday, Shell Oil Co. president John Hofmeister presented highlights from the national tour his company undertook in June 2006 to meet with American people in all 50 states and discuss energy security. The learnings Shell gained was issued in a report called, "A National Dialogue on Energy Security: The Shell Final Report."
The goal of the tour was two-fold -- to build Americans' awareness of the energy issues Shell faces and to gain a better understanding of Americans' perceptions and priorities, the report stated. A total of 250 Shell leaders and professionals met with more than 15,130 Americans and conducted more than 100 local and national media interviews, potentially reaching a total of nearly 150 million people, according to the report.
In every city, residents told Shell they are struggling to come to terms with the new energy reality. At the same time, 34 percent of Shell Town Hall attendees "strongly supported" increasing gas taxes and using the money to invest in energy conservation and alternative energy options, the company reported, citing a followup phone survey with town hall attendees. One Philadelphia participant told the company, "There's not enough pain to drive the market toward change... [we] need legislation, taxation and incentives."
However, Americans do not want to alter their lifestyles, Shell reported. If made to choose, 61 percent of town hall attendees agreed that the U.S. needs to reduce its dependence on oil, even if it requires significant changes to lifestyles, while 39 percent agreed that Americans will never change lifestyles so new sources of energy need to be found.
In addition, the company found unbridled optimism over the pace at which the country can reach energy security. Shell asked attendees to forecast the U.S. energy mix in 10 years, and the estimates for the percentage of alternative fuels used in the future ranged from 10 to 100 percent. As one Atlanta participant told Shell, "With a Manhattan Project to develop this technology, the U.S. can be energy independent."
While the oil company found that all regions of the country were aware of the energy challenges, the priorities for change varied by region -- on the West Coast, attendees supported diversifying the energy portfolio with an emphasis on renewable fuels such as solar and hydrogen, while attendees in the South Central emphasized the need to continue using fossil fuels in the near future, according to the company's report.
Also during the tour Shell uncovered seven myths American citizens hold:
-- Oil prices are artificial.
-- The nation is running out of oil.
-- The U.S. has to choose between energy and the environment.
-- Importing energy is better than dirtying citizens’ backyards.
-- Alternative fuels are a "magic bullet."
-- The U.S. can conserve its way to energy security.
-- Oil and gas companies make huge profits and are sitting on mountains of cash.
As a result of the tour, Shell developed a 12-step program to address energy security in the U.S. The plan focus on three key areas: supply, demand and environment.
The steps include:
1. Allow more access to conventional oil and gas.
2. Develop domestic unconventional oil and gas resources.
3. Move to clean coal technology.
4. Supplement our natural gas supply with imported liquefied natural gas (LNG).
5. Move biofuels beyond corn.
6. Create the distribution systems to take advantage of wind energy.
7. Push solar research to make it commercially viable.
8. Develop the hydrogen fleet and fueling infrastructure.
9. Focus on energy-efficient design.
10. Develop a federal framework for measuring and controlling greenhouse gases.
11. Educate our children and ourselves on energy issues.
12. Keep the door open for other technology solutions.
Shell's full report on its 50-City Tour is available at the following link:
A National Dialogue on Energy Security: The Shell Final Report