Funny how times change.......
Who would have thought Bush and Slick WIllie would ever sit in the same room and agree (mostly) on an energy policy for our country. Hopefully, somehow they will be able to get the individual that others call their president to see the light.
CERAWeek: Clinton, Bush Agree Natural Gas, Efficiency Key to Energy Future
By Jennifer Dlouhy
March 11, 2011
Oil will be essential for fueling the U.S. for decades to come, but low-emission natural gas and improved efficiency will bridge the transition to cleaner alternative fuels, two former presidents said today.
Former President George W. Bush told a packed ballroom of energy executives at the CERAWeek conference that while the U.S. has a vision of new technologies to power our homes and propel our cars, the nation needs to be prosperous to afford them. And that prosperity, Bush said, is tied to oil and gas.
Although they may have been political adversaries, both Bush and former President Bill Clinton came together Friday in stressing that the U.S. should do more to harness the promise of natural gas, which produces fewer emissions than coal and oil.
Bush said that includes converting the nation’s cars and trucks to run on natural gas and building a natural gas pipeline system in the northeast for regions now reliant on heating oil.
Clinton said electric utilities should retire some of the oldest coal-fired power plants and replace them with facilities that run on natural gas.
Although the panel discussion by the two former presidents was closed to press at their request, conference attendees shared details of their speeches and answers to questions with The Houston Chronicle. During an hour-long discussion that conference-goers described as “entertaining,” and “humorous,” Clinton and Bush fielded energy questions from Daniel Yergin, chairman of IHS CERA, which put on the week-long summit.
The pair addressed ongoing unrest in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya that has sent oil prices above $100 a barrel on fears the political strife will spread to bigger oil-producing nations.
Clinton said Libyan Leader Moammar Gaddafi can fight rebels by tapping the nation’s oil riches. “Gaddafi has enough money to hire mercenaries to open fire on his own people by selling oil that was rightfully (theirs),” Clinton said.
The presidents also outlined their energy priorities, with Bush touting the development of nuclear power and shale gas. Clinton told the audience they’d be surprised to hear he agreed with Bush’s energy outline, but he added a caution about big challenges to nuclear power, including how to store the waste and finance the projects.
Clinton also addressed concerns about a slowdown in permitting offshore drilling projects in the wake of last year’s oil spill, which he described as an unnecessary delay that the U.S. economy doesn’t need.
Clinton also weighed in on environmental fears about the threat that the hydraulic fracturing technique that is unlocking natural gas reserves nationwide can contaminate drinking water supplies. Energy companies have been producing natural gas in Arkansas for years “without a problem,” Clinton said. But, he stressed, it is important to find out what — if anything — is in water near those operations and make sure they are safe, to avoid another disaster like last year’s oil spill.
Bush warned executives that they were up against a “dangerous . . . anti-hydrocarbon sentiment in Washington.”
Jim Noe, vice president of Houston-based Hercules Offshore, said he was encouraged by the two presidents’ common ground.
“My biggest surprise was that both presidents agreed on energy policy and that we needed to develop more of our energy resources,” Noe said. “And I was surprised President Clinton was so frank about offshore drilling.”
The presidents largely echoed themes expressed by other panelists Friday, who said the road to an alternative energy future would be paved by oil and gas.
“We are not going to get to the future tomorrow,” Chevron Corp. vice president John McDonald told the conference. “While we are getting to that future — and we are working on these various options and alternatives and trying to build the supply chains — we still have to produce the energy we have today.”
Big energy consumers said they are scrambling to offset spikes in crude prices — still above $100 a barrel after dropping slightly today — and eke out more per barrel by boosting efficiency.
“Faced with fuel prices like that, we can’t just hold our heads in our hands and cry and scream. We’ve got to take action,” said United Continental Holdings CEO Jeff Smisek.