Last month in Washington D.C., Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) held a full-fledged war-game simulating a dramatic and sudden rise in oil prices and the accompanying political instability.
Although SAFE is not widely known outside the beltway, the lobbying group has been gaining influence since being formed in 2005. Recently, the group has lobbied for reducing the country’s dependence on oil and was instrumental in the formation of the Electrification Coalition, which advocates the development and adoption of electric vehicles.
The organization’s annual Oil ShockWave events have drawn the attention and participation of a number of political luminaries including then-Senator Barack Obama and Clinton administration Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates served as the chairman of the inaugural Oil ShockWave event in 2005.
Taking part in last month’s simulation were a number of former military and business leaders and government officials, including retired Navy Admiral and former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, former Shell Oil Company CEO John Hofmeister, former national security advisor Stephen Hadley, and former deputy secretary of state and national intelligence director, John Negroponte.
Retired four-star Admiral Blair said he became convinced that America’s foreign policy is too entangled in the country’s need for Middle East oil over the course of his naval career. “It was an accumulated feeling over 35 years of a naval career,” said Blair, “just watching our armed forces get sucked into that region. Underlying it all was that attachment to oil that really involved us in that region.”
According to Blair, SAFE advocates a three-pronged approach to solving the country’s energy needs: Increase domestic oil production, reduce oil consumption and convert to an electric transportation infrastructure.
SAFE recently advocated raising the national corporate fuel economy standard for model-years 2017-2025 to 62 mpg — the toughest standard under consideration — in order to achieve the greatest possible reduction in oil consumption. In a white paper released last June, SAFE said it “continues to support the most aggressive annual improvement goal supported by credible economic and engineering analysis.”
According to Blair, the U.S. is “a little late to the game” in terms of improving fuel economy. “If you look at the level of technology and the mileage that we get on our cars,” he said, “we are behind Europe and even behind China.”
However, he says SAFE’s message is getting through, and progress is being made. In a recent General Motors Company survey, owners cited “reducing dependence on foreign oil” as the top reason for purchasing the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid vehicle.
Blair said, “I think we’ve certainly passed the first hurdle. People don’t fight us on the logic or the message. It’s just a question of the speed and the priorities.”
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