Moniz: Energy world different since '73 oil embargo, and more changes will come

Posted by Kendall Helblig on October 24, 2013 

Forty years after the Arab oil embargo, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz told an audience at a Washington think tank that there have been profound changes in how the United States views and addresses the energy world – and that more change is coming.

Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Thursday, Moniz said American households spent 20 percent more of their income on energy in 1973 than they do today.

He said there has also been a shift in how the U.S. views its role in the energy field.

“Globalization was not really, I think, a word in the dictionary at that time,” said Moniz.

Although it is well known that there has been an increase in oil and gas production, Moniz said it deserves more focus. Last year, he said, the U.S. saw its greatest increase in oil production in history: up by 1 million barrels per day. It was largely driven, according to Moniz, by two hydraulic fracturing formations: Bakken, in North Dakota, and Eagle Ford, in Texas.

Those two regions alone accounted for about 75 percent of monthly oil production growth across the six major domestic regions, according to a drilling productivity report released this week by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

However, Moniz warned this is not an all-encompassing solution.

“It would be a misconception to think that because of our increased domestic production here that somehow we have become free of this question of the global oil market, and the global oil price, and the global oil price volatility,” he said.

He suggested a key objective should be reducing the nation’s overall oil dependency – and not just increasing domestic production of oil.

On the issue of climate change, Moniz said the need to respond is “not debatable.” The Department of Energy supports President Barack Obama’s climate action plan, which focuses on mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, adaptation, and international leadership and cooperation.

Moniz said the administration also believes that enhancing nuclear security will put the U.S. in a stronger position to harness safe, clean nuclear energy, which could reduce the risk of nuclear terrorism.

“This linked agenda is another one that we are very, very focused on,” Moniz said. Even so, he said the inability to handle nuclear waste now inhibits some policy options.

Other ways to enhance the energy infrastructure, according to Moniz, are strengthening resistance to cyber attacks – an objective that inspired the creation of the new cyber council within the DOE – and strengthening grid development.

Moniz said the overall goal of his department is to adopt an integrated strategy that includes emergency response capabilities, and to convene agencies across the government to generate integrated approaches.


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