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US Energy Supplies Vulnerable: Scientists Counter President

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<-- Return To 21st Century Warfare

Read: Energy Security: Solutions to Protect America's Power Supply and Reduce Oil Dependence.

Source: Union of Concerned Scientists

PRESS RELEASE

February 1, 2002

US Energy Supplies Vulnerable: Report Says Exposed Infrastructure, Oil Dependence to Blame

Scientists Counter President, Offer Responsible Energy Security Plan

The nation's exposed energy infrastructure and growing oil dependence present significant security risks to our citizens and economy, warns a new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists. The scientists' group - responding to President Bush's renewed call for oil drilling and subsidies to the fossil fuel industry - says lawmakers can reduce the vulnerability of our energy supply by passing new standards that enhance nuclear safety and deliver oil-saving cars to the road, high-efficiency technologies to our buildings and industry, and renewable energy to our electrical outlets.

"The Bush administration and some in Congress are using September 11 to push preconceived energy polices that would exacerbate our energy insecurity," said Dr. Kurt Gottfried, a professor of physics at Cornell University and Chairman of the Union of Concerned Scientists. "Only responsible efficiency measures and clean supplies will deliver a safer, cheaper, and cleaner energy future."

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According to Energy Security: Solutions to Protect America's Power Supply and Reduce Oil Dependence, the nation's energy infrastructure is highly exposed and makes an easy target for a well-placed attack. A disruption at a key power plant, refinery, transmission hub, or pipeline can break the flow of power or fuel to millions of customers and create costly energy price spikes. A major accident at a nuclear power plant could kill tens of thousands and contaminate an area the size of Pennsylvania.

"The nation's power supply is inherently vulnerable to devastating attacks," said Deborah Donovan, Senior Analyst in UCS's Clean Energy Program. "Renewable energy sources do not carry the catastrophic implications of attacks on nuclear plants, large centralized fossil fuel plants, and pipelines."

Energy sources like wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, and landfill gas are geographically dispersed, burn no volatile fuels, produce no radioactive fallout in the event of an attack, and require less of the infrastructure that delivers fuel and transmits electricity that makes our current system so vulnerable. Through efficiency and clean energy, we could, between now and 2020, avoid building 975 new power plants, retire 180 coal plants, and close 14 nuclear plants. Hundreds of thousands of miles of new gas pipelines would not be necessary. Independent studies show that renewable energy delivers more jobs per dollar than investments in fossil fuel plants. The Department of Energy estimates that harnessing just 5 percent of our energy from wind by 2020 would create 80,000 new jobs.

The new report says US security is further threatened by our dependence on oil. The US sends more than $200,000 overseas each minute to buy oil. Even if we imported far less and drilled more, the US economy would still be susceptible to Persian Gulf instability and OPEC market power because the price we pay for oil - whether domestic or foreign - is tied to the world market. The estimated costs of oil dependence to the US economy are $7 trillion over the last three decades.

"Fuel-efficient vehicles, buildings, and industry can save 2.5 million barrels of oil per day by 2012, about as much as we imported from the Persian Gulf in 2000," said Jason Mark, Director of the Clean Vehicles Program at UCS. "By 2020, oil savings would total 5.9 million barrels per day, more than we import from all OPEC countries today."

Not only do efficient technologies and clean power supplies create a safer energy future, they save consumers money. In less than twenty years, the annual consumer savings from efficiency and renewable energy would reach $150 billion per year, $500 annually for a typical family.

To deliver a safer, cheaper, and cleaner future, UCS calls on Congress and the administration to: raise fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks to 40 miles per gallon by 2012; create incentives for next-generation vehicles, like high-efficiency hybrids and fuel cells; strengthen energy efficiency standards for appliances, buildings, and industry, while increasing funding for efficiency programs; adopt a renewable portfolio standard requiring 20 percent of our electricity to come from renewable energy sources by 2020, along with appropriate incentives; and update and enforce safety standards at our nuclear facilities.

"The President would increase our oil use and build a host of large power plants, making our energy supply even more vulnerable," said Alden Meyer, UCS Director of Government Relations. "As the Senate takes up energy legislation later this month, it's vital they take steps to shore up our security by improving fuel economy standards and increasing renewable energy use."

For info on this release, call:

PAUL FAIN
202 223-6133

RICH HAYES
202 223-6133 To set up interviews, or for UCS info, contact:

PAUL FAIN
Press Secretary
202 223-6133
mailto:pfain@ucsusa.org

RICH HAYES
Media Director
202 223-6133
mailto:rhayes@ucsusa.org

MICHAEL PANCOOK
Transportation Media & Outreach Coordinator
510 843-1872
mpancook@ucsusa.org

Read: Energy Security: Solutions to Protect America's Power Supply and Reduce Oil Dependence.

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