A principal adviser to President Barack Obama joined a roundtable discussion on national energy policy Wednesday on the University of Wisconsin campus to speak on the policies, technologies and incentives influencing the future of energy.
Nancy Sutley, chair of the Council on Environmental Quality and Obama’s principal environmental policy adviser, was featured on a panel of UW professors and Wisconsin energy researchers in an event co-sponsored by the Nelson Institute and the UW Office of Sustainability.
Sutley, who laid the work of the Obama administration, emphasized the president’s understanding of energy issues in the United States.
“The president understands the integral nature of our energy economy to our larger economy overall,” Sutley said. “We can really lead the world in clean energy and how important it is for us as a country to invest in clean energy here in the United States.”
Sutley added by 2025, American consumers will be able to experience the significant strides made in clean energy under the Obama administration. By 2025, it is expected consumers will save trillions of dollars at the pump, she said.
However, despite this progress, Sutley said there is still a lot of work left. According to her, Congress is an essential tool in moving forward with clean energy jobs in the United States.
“We feel there is a lot we have done,” Sutley said. “But there is still a lot we have left to do, and the president has been calling on congress to act to invest in clean energy in manufacturing and creating jobs at home.”
UW Engineering and Physics professor Michael Corradini agreed with Sutley on the importance of Congress. Policy and economics and societal impact play large parts in this challenge, Corradini said.
According to Sutley, Obama encouraged Congress to pass production tax credit to support jobs in manufacturing, specifically the wind industry, an area where she said there is a lot of growth.
The panel, which was titled “All of the Above,” also highlighted the importance of working on all sources of energy in the short term in addition to focusing on the alternative sources.
“We need to develop these new sources of energy,” Sutley said. “We need this diverse supply of energy, and we need to do all of these things at once, and that is something the president believes we can do.”
In response to the high levels of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in relation to the world, assistant professor of public affairs and environmental studies Gregory Nemet said although the United States is the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, levels have actually been leveling off and going down.
Nemet said this can be explained in part by the “new, cheap and plentiful” natural gas in the U.S.
According to Sutley, this “relatively cheap” energy is putting a lot of Americans in the manufacturing industry back to work.
Sutley also emphasized the world relies on American green technologies, like those discovered in Wisconsin research institutes.
According to Nemet, the clean energy debate requires sustained effort, innovation and a diverse “all of the above” portfolio.
The 2012 Madison Energy Summit will be held Oct. 30.