In a statement announcing the launch of a Quadrennial Energy
Review, the White House said an associated task force would spend
the next year studying the systems required for "transporting,
transmitting, and delivering energy."
The first report, with recommendations, would be due Jan. 31,
"Our current infrastructure is increasingly challenged by
transformations in energy supply, markets, and patterns of end use;
issues of aging and capacity; impacts of climate change; and cyber
and physical threats," said the president's memo establishing the
"Any vulnerability in this infrastructure may be exacerbated by the
increasing interdependencies of energy systems with water,
telecommunications, transportation, and emergency response systems."
The task force report would serve as a "roadmap" to address such
challenges, the memo said.
Plans for the Quadrennial Energy Review, known as a QER, have been
underway for months. Global energy markets have been transformed by
a boom in U.S. shale oil and natural gas production, and the
administration must deal with issues including pipelines, fracking
and transport of crude oil by rail. There have also been calls to
allow exports of U.S. crude.
The White House noted that domestic oil production has grown more
than 50 percent since Obama took office in 2009 and natural gas
production was at its highest-ever levels, conditions that were
testing aging U.S. infrastructure.
Some lawmakers, including Lisa Murkowski of oil-rich Alaska, the top
Republican on the Senate Energy Committee, are pressing the
government to end a decades-old ban on exporting U.S. crude oil.
Energy experts welcomed the move.
"This action taken by the White House is a smart one," said Margot
Anderson, executive director of think tank Bipartisan Policy
Center's Energy Project. "A bipartisan group of senators has
introduced a bill calling for a QER in the last few Congresses, and
many think tanks and groups off the Hill have also hailed the
utility of a QER."
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The idea of a QER has been in discussion for years. It was one of
the recommendations made last March by the president's high-profile
Council of Advisors on Science and Technology for his second-term
Obama also called for the QER in a June speech unveiling his climate
change action plan.
The review would be similar to the energy department's ongoing
Quadrennial Technology Review, which assesses the agency's
technology policies. It also resembles the Defense Department's
Quadrennial Defense Review, which assesses current threats,
challenges and capabilities to better address future conflicts.
David Pumphrey, a former deputy assistant secretary for
international energy cooperation at the Department of Energy, said
the January 2015 deadline was aggressive given the amount of work
required to bring the involved agencies together.
"I think this is an important effort to try to come up with
something that's been very difficult in the past, which is
integrating a wide variety of views in the administration about the
various aspects of energy policy," said Pumphrey, now a senior
adviser at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, a
He said it was possible that big policy decisions, such as the issue
of U.S. oil exports, would be timed so as not to pre-empt the
results of the QER.
(Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton;
editing by David Gregorio)
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