JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The presidential election will no doubt play a big role in determining where the country’s energy policy will be in five or ten years, and this morning local business and government leaders gathered at the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce for the Florida Consumer Energy Alliance’s energy forum to discuss the United States' energy policy going forward.
"It's important that we move forward with energy, but that we do it in a very responsible way," says Congresswoman Corrine Brown, who was joined by State Representative Lake Ray, Mike Davidson of Mike Davidson Ford, Buzz Hoover with Gate Petroleum, and Kevin Doyle, executive director of the Florida Consumer Energy Alliance.
Congresswoman Brown stressed the need to continue investing in energy despite some of the projects the U.S. invested in that didn't go as well as planned. Brown acknowledged that Solyndra was a failure but she says that doesn't mean the country should just drop everything and forget about researching and developing new energy.
"Listen, I've been in Congress 20 years. I can tell you a lot of ventures that we've gotten involved in that didn't do what they were supposed to do. One word: Halliburton."
Lake Ray focused much of his speech on electricity conservation and the legislature's plans going forward to pursue and implement new energy policies.
"I think it's about deregulation, I think it's about being serious about our future," said Ray. He argued that one of the ways the U.S. could get back to basics while still moving forward in the energy game would be to develop cleaner, more energy efficient ways to manufacture products.
Buzz Hoover talked about the petroleum side of the issue saying Gate is already looking into ways to retrofit their pump stations so that new and alternative sources of energy, like compressed natural gas, can be purchased.
"If a cleaner, more secure, cost-effective alternative gasoline is developed, we'll be among the first to offer it," said Hoover.
Hoover says the U.S. has a multi-trillion dollar infrastructure that is almost entirely based on producing, transporting, and dispensing liquid fuel for the cars and trucks most people drive, and that anything that might change that is going to have to be worth it.
"If there's an alternative to gasoline that's going to be viable, it's either going to have to fit into the existing infrastructure or it has to be sufficiently cost-effective to warrant the cost to modify the infrastructure."
The final discussion of the day dealt with the possible outcomes of the 2012 race for the White House and how each candidate will further the U.S. energy policy in years to come. According to the Florida Consumer Energy Alliance, President Obama's plan is to support renewable energy programs, promote energy efficiency and conservation, and support responsible development of fossil fuels. Mitt Romney, they say, will take a slightly different track, pursuing aggressive regulatory reform, supporting and promoting increased production, including opening up reserves to exploration and production, and finally targeting research and development.