February 27, 2013
New Hampshire Institute of Politics & Political Library
More than 130 guests filled the auditorium at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics & Political Library at Saint Anselm College Monday night to hear from John Hofmeister, the former president of Shell Oil Company who recently founded an organization called Citizens for Affordable energy. He spoke about how he believes alternative energy is the best way to strengthen the U.S. economy.
Hofmeister first discussed the recent and dramatic increase in gasoline and crude oil prices within the past few weeks. He provided statistics suggesting that the United States is overly oil dependent on the middle-eastern countries and how they deliberately produce fewer barrels of oil in order to drive up gasoline prices in the U.S.
He said "It's not that the demand has risen, it's that the supply has shrunk. We are victims of OPEC and victims of ourselves spring after spring and when you look ahead at the future of global demand, there are people who will tell you it's time to go off oil. I couldn't be happier."
"As an oil executive," he said, "when I look honestly into the eyes of a customer and realize the product I'm selling is only going to operate at 20% efficiency I wonder about my integrity selling it to you. You're not getting a lot for your money."
He also explained that "we [the U.S.] don't have an engine of [economic] growth," and proposed "energy as the engine of growth for this decade...and using natural gas as a competitor to gasoline."
He believes that the past few presidents have not sufficiently addressed energy concerns. He said that both the ageing electricity system and an insufficient supply of transportation fuels are not helping to keep the price affordable and the last congress did not pass a single page of energy legislation or environmental legislation that would deal with these issues.
He talked about natural gas as a clean source of energy, and how increased manufacturing of this product will reduce the nation's dependence on oil and has the potential to create three million new jobs in addition to the nine million U.S. jobs that already exist in oil production.
Hofmeister also addressed the ageing electricity system and said "we see the effects with our old system with weather events. We see the effects when we can't handle storms because it's [power lines] all above ground...it's vulnerable in the manner in which it operates." He also talked about many of the country's existing nuclear power plants who were granted a 40 year operational permits, which are almost expired or if they are given extensions, they can potential become unstable.
Hofmesiter looks to new legislation as a way to influence a progression towards additional drilling of domestic oil and natural gas and creating new natural pipelines.