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Page added on June 21, 2010

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Former Shell exec predicts blackouts, gas lines

General Ideas

Americans are on the path toward blackouts and gas lines, and the federal government’s tools to prevent it are broken.

And John Hofmeister, the former Shell executive who made this prediction at a World Affairs Council breakfast on Friday, said he’s an optimist. Some of his energy industry friends expect worse, he said.

“Within a decade I predict the energy abyss looks like brownouts, blackouts and gas lines,” said Hofmeister. “Our federal government, when it comes to energy and the environment, is dysfunctional, it’s broken, and it’s unfixable in its current form.”

Hofmeister, the former chief executive of Shell Oil Co., is promoting his new book, Why We Hate the Oil Companies. He has also created a nonprofit called Citizens for Affordable Energy.

The Houston resident has a solution. He wants the U.S. government to get out of the energy business. He would shift oversight of energy and the environment to an independent agency, similar to the Federal Reserve.

He worries that the U.S. won’t have enough energy because of the way government restricts using various types of existing technology, such as oil, coal and nuclear power. But the U.S. hasn’t developed the alternative technologies to be able to replace fossil fuels.

A central agency could address issues of supply, technology, infrastructure and environment without getting tangled in the short-term political cycles.

“In a world of energy shortage, which we are becoming, we actually have more energy than we’ll ever need. Ever. Forever,” Hofmeister said. “We just need to decide which [type of energy] to use when.”

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3 Comments on "Former Shell exec predicts blackouts, gas lines"

  1. KenZ300 on Tue, 22nd Jun 2010 1:20 am 

    More of a reason to ramp up the use of alternative, sustainable energy NOW.

    The time to move to alternative energy and reduce our reliance on OIL has come.

    Between the environmental disaster in the Gulf and the need for energy security we can not wait to increase our use of alternative fuels.

  2. Dan Miller on Tue, 22nd Jun 2010 2:10 am 

    This is obviously an ex-oil executive who is using scare tactics to promote the further use of dirty fossil fuels. His argument is that if we do not encourage further use of fossil fuels then our society will suffer energy shortages with catastrophic consequences. In fact, if the Deepwater Horizon disaster teaches us anything, it is that we should move to renewable energy sources as quickly as possible. Mr. Hofmeister’s book is entitled, “Why we hate the oil companies”. Considering his deplorable views on fossil fuel use, if Mr. Hofmeister wants an answer to the title of his book, then he need not go further than to look in the mirror.

  3. i on Wed, 23rd Jun 2010 1:48 am 

    While I’m no fan of oil companies, I don’t think Mr. Hofmeister is wrong. While it’s a nice idea to go with renewables, and we should, there’s simply no way that we’re going to run our society on only those for *many* years to come. We lack the infrastructure particularly with regard to adequate electricity storage technology and transportation fuel distribution. There are remedies for both of these things, but they will be neither cheap nor rapid.

    I also hate to point out that our country is protected by a military whose ships, planes, nukes and other wares are quite a long way from running on solar and wind.

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