On Wednesday, October 27th, the World Affairs Council – Washington D.C. hosted an event for John Hofmeister, the former President of Shell Oil Company, founder/ CEO of Citizens for Affordable Energy, Inc., and Chairman of the National Urban League, where he discussed his book, Why We Hate the Oil Companies. He began the program by expressing that we are approaching a new age of energy where blackouts, brownouts, and extraordinary price for oil will prevail. His lecture mainly focused on the political and economic approaches toward solving issues pertaining to energy resources.
Hofmeister argued that one of the main reasons for our encountering of this energy resources-related challenges is that we have avoided difficult choices. Also, until the 1970s, the continuous creations of oil infrastructures led the United States to become the world’s largest economy and the “have-not” countries were envious of the United States. However, after the 1970s, we began to rely solely on the existing infrastructures and stopped building newer because we believed we did not need more oil plants since supply exceeded demand. Such discontinuity of creating oil infrastructures led to suffering that we thought we would never face. Although our current demand does not exceed supply, it is safe to say that we are reaching to the point where that will happen. The cause is coal plants and other technologies used in the oil companies are outdated. Thus, one solution is to replace the old systems with new ones.
He continued with his talk, full of “depressing truths”, as he described it, on the note that the continual increase in demand and only a slight increase in supply have made a society that is full of challenges. Since our energy-prolific society is not shrinking, we might eventually have to import even more oil from abroad to keep up with the increasing demand. He claimed that the weakness of the economy was the cause of the situation.
Hofmeister then expounded upon the political side of the issue. He discussed that we need government leadership to solve the issue however the political leaders cannot reach an agreement. Despite President Nixon’s introduction of energy independence plans in 1973, he, along with the seven presidents succeeding him, could not lead to energy independence.
He concluded his lecture by mentioning the four main points that we always have to keep in mind: determine future sources; determine efficiency of the sources; protect land, water, and air and sustain a cleaner environment; and provide more infrastructures.
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