|By MICHELE F. MIHALJEVICH
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Next week’s energy security summit at Purdue University is a good way to begin discussions on reducing the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, organizers said.
The Sen. Richard G. Lugar - Purdue University Summit on Energy Security is Tuesday on the West Lafayette campus. More than 600 people, including legislators and representatives from auto and gasoline companies, are expected to attend the invitation-only event.
“The nation’s security is threatened by our over-reliance on petroleum,” said Mark Helmke, a long-time aide to Lugar, R-Ind. “We need to look at alternatives. We need to start doing some things right now.
“The intent of the day is to paint the big picture, and look at technology and what we can do. It’s the chicken and the egg problem, and somebody has to go first.”
In a letter sent recently to newspapers across Indiana, Lugar and Purdue University President Martin C. Jischke said recent $3 a gallon gas prices have brought into focus the global consequences of the tripling of crude oil prices, and the rise of imports to 60 percent of our oil consumption.
“The multiple crises currently roiling the Middle East highlight the peril we face. America has the mightiest military and the biggest economy, but the world’s dependence on petroleum has caused us to lose leverage around the globe,” Lugar and Jischke said in the letter. “It is hard to overstate the urgency of this crisis.
“Today, an oil cutoff by a major producer could be devastating. Business-as-usual responses will not suffice. Government, universities and far-thinking corporations must act boldly, take risks, and be prepared to break old paradigms.”
The summit’s program chair said we shouldn’t think in terms of complete independence when it comes to getting away from foreign oil.
“I doubt we could become completely independent, but we want reduced dependence,” said Wallace E. Tyner, who is also Purdue professor of agricultural economics. “One half of our oil imports come from three areas that are volatile, the Middle East, Venezuela and Nigeria. We should move down the path to reduce or eliminate those imports.”
The summit’s morning session will include speeches by Lugar, Jischke and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels. A panel discussion moderated by C-SPAN’s Brian Lamb will feature guests from the automotive and oil industries.
“We want to know from their perspectives, what will it take to move you down this path,” Tyner said. “What are the barriers. What do they need help with?”
The afternoon session will focus on bio-fuels and coal liquids. A panel discussion will include details on barriers and opportunities of production of coal liquids, and policy mechanisms for stimulating production of bio-fuels and coal liquids.
Indiana is a good place to have the summit because the state can be in the forefront in this, Helmke said. “Indiana has the technological know-how,” he said. “And Purdue is well-positioned because it has a base in agriculture, engineering, business and public policy.”
Tyner agreed, “Purdue, and President Jischke, encourage and stimulate multi-disciplinary work. Purdue has the technology side and the policy said. The barriers are low and the stimulus high.”
In their letter, Lugar and Jischke said the drive to end the country’s oil addiction is a defining challenge for this generation.
“The required regulations and tax incentives may meet resistance, but we should not be deterred. We have the ingenuity and the resources to overcome our dangerous oil dependency. Now we need the political will to set our country on a new energy path and the determination to see it through.”
This farm news was published in the August 23, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.