Anheuser-Busch Briefing Center, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
1615 H St NW, Washington, D.C.
Registration and Breakfast: 8:00 a.m.-8:30 a.m.
(Photo: Propane delivery near Ghandruk, Nepal. Courtesy: J. Slutz)
We start and end every day in the United States by using energy. Energy that is developed, converted to a useful form, and transported to our homes and communities. Energy that is always available and always reliable. Energy at prices the rest of the world finds envious. We truly have energy abundance in America.
Our sense of abundance is formed in many ways by our frame of reference and depends on what we compare ourselves to. I had an experience recently that reinforced my personal frame of reference about our nation's energy abundance and the value of our energy system for our economy and our environment. I recently spent two weeks in Nepal, and while it is one of the most scenic countries in the world, it clearly is a developing country in great need of infrastructure.
Every day in Kathmandu, usually in the evening, the power would go off. Only when the generators were started would the lights come back. Practically every hotel and store had a generator. This reliance on thousands of gasoline-powered generators, along with a lack of vehicle fuel quality standards, has resulted in a serious air quality and smog problem in Kathmandu. This leads to a lack of views in an otherwise scenic country. Unfortunately, Kathmandu is not unique in this. Many large cities in developing countries share these energy and environmental problems.
In Nepal, there is movement toward a better energy and environmental future through growing energy abundance. I saw firsthand the construction of micro hydro-electric systems to provide clean power in remote mountain villages. I even saw, as illustrated in the attached picture, the delivery of natural gas (propane) to remote villages as a replacement to burning wood (which is contributing to deforestation).
I raise the instance of Nepal in order to illustrate that the United States is clearly on the other end of the spectrum. We are a nation of abundance, not to mention energy production, conversion, delivery, availability, and reliability. Our energy system is built on a solid foundation of infrastructure created by industry with private capital. Indeed, our past and future energy abundance has enabled great environmental improvements over the past several decades. We have entered an era of even greater abundance because of the recent shale oil and natural gas developments. New research released last month quantifies the key economic benefits of shale oil and gas in the report America’s New Energy Future. Based on this research, shale oil and gas has added 1.7 million jobs to the U.S. economy and will contribute 3 million jobs by 2020. Whether in America or Nepal, energy abundance is a goal we share. Not every country can claim to achieve it. America stands out as a bold example.
Kathmandu, Mountains barely visible through smog and haze
Mountain rice farming, Annapurna Mountain in background
Annapurna Mountain from Landrunk village