The 2012 Policy Forum explored the intersection of a changing global energy landscape and new security considerations facing the nation. The discussion of energy and security was particularly timely for reasons including:
- Massive growth in global demand for oil and natural gas emanating from developing Asia and the Middle East
- Uncertainties in MENA, including ongoing tensions with Iran
- Persisting concerns that the petroleum needed to operate U.S. defense assets and bases may not remain affordable or reliably available
- “Above ground” restrictions on exploration, production, and transit of new supplies
- Prospects for vast increases in unconventional gas and oil due to recent technological developments and the cross-cutting implications for geopolitics, for national and local economies, and for the environment
The 2012 Policy Forum highlighted both the impact on and prospects for American leadership in meeting such global energy challenges into the future. Drawing on the insight of distinguished speakers and panelists, the 2012 Policy Forum promoted constructive dialogue, technological innovation, and policy action across levels of government, the defense establishment, the private sector, and academia with a special focus on Georgia. The specific questions that were addressed included:
- What are current global energy trends and the associated geopolitical and geoeconomic dynamics?
- What impact will the global financial crisis, volatile/rising oil prices, and domestic austerity have on U.S. global leadership?
- How can the U.S. manage the transition to a more scalable, diversified, environmentally sound, and secure energy system, while meeting national defense and economic needs and mitigating economic and political risks?
- How can we meet the nation’s energy challenges in a bipartisan manner and within the context of globally interdependent energy systems?
- Will breakthrough advances in key sectors, such as natural gas and unconventional oil, affect U.S. strategic and energy security interests and postures? And will this American energy renaissance undermine our ability to make the transformation to cleaner, low-carbon fuels?
- How have the events in Fukushima impacted global acceptance of nuclear energy, and what are the near and longer term impacts on oil, gas, and coal?
In addition, the Policy Forum underscored connections between global concerns and local developments. This included identifying novel applications of information technology for enhancing commercial savings and grid efficiency, public-private-university partnerships, local sustainability, and the “greening” of military installations underway in the Southeast region and in Georgia, in particular. Also featured was the tangible achievements at advancing U.S. energy security spearheaded by Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, municipal and business communities across the state, and Georgia Tech.