America is suffering from BANANA Syndrome.
That was the message of Karen Harbert, president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, who addressed the realities of America’s energy situation at the DPA/PROWESS joint luncheon during the recent AAPG annual Convention and Exhibition.
BANANA Syndrome, you ask?
It used to be NIMBY (Not In My Backyard), Harbert said, but BANANA is now a more accurate description: Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything.
“It is a plague that is pervasive across the country,” Harbert said,“and it is severely hampering our ability to tackle energy challenges.”
She said the hundreds of projects 21st Century Energy have found stalled, mostly due to legal challenges and bureaucratic delays, is unsettling.
“These delays are costing our economy over $1 trillion, as well as millions of jobs annually,” Harbert said.
Traditional energy projects are on the list, but so are more progressive efforts; for example, 40 percent of the stalled efforts were renewable energy projects, like the Cape Wind Project, an offshore wind farm in Massachusetts that has been delayed for a decade.
“We need policy makers to recognize this problem,” she said,“and step in and start streamlining the process to build new projects.”
Finding ‘The Cure’
Harbert, like others who spoke in Houston during the AAPG convention, observed that the United States has been keeping 85 percent of our offshore resources under lock for decades as we have become dependent on foreign oil imports – costing us around $400 billion a year.
“This strategy makes no sense,” she said.“We have been in the midst of a difficult recession, and now high gasoline prices are placing more pressure on our economy. Exploring for domestic energy would put thousands to work and create millions for our economy.
Harbert told the luncheon crowd that producing more domestic oil would give America more energy security and economic wellbeing.
“If we are not able to overcome BANANA, we simply won’t be able to meet our long-term energy challenges, such as rising demand,” she said.
Areas like, electricity transmission, have been in need of revision for decades, she explained.
“Siting and building new transmission lines will be necessary for us to meet our future energy needs,” she said,“and take advantage of renewable energy sources and electric vehicles.”
Yet opposition has halted these projects, too, leaving the country destined for a not-so-distant future of“rolling blackouts and electricity rationing.”
Harbert suggested eight steps toward“a cure:”
- The country needs to increase domestic oil and gas production.
- It should maximize its energy efficiency.
- Citizens should recognize the role for nuclear energy and clean coal, and not be intimidated by them.
- Citizens should be looking for alternative transportation fuels – but look out for supply chains that would cause us to be more dependent on foreign help than we already are.
- The country desperately needs to increase renewable sources of energy.
- Get beyond the“NOPE” (Not On Planet Earth) mentality.
- The government needs to provide financing for technology innovations.
- Invest in education for our future problem solvers.
“In order to stay ahead of the curve (we) must develop that next-generation of problem solvers,” Harbert said,“which is why it is so important to invest in education.”