WASHINGTON, Pa. (May 1, 2012)—Political powerhouses Susan Eisenhower and Eleanor Clift helped usher in a new era at Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) with the official opening of its Center for Energy Policy and Management (CEPM) and unveiling of the Washington & Jefferson College Energy Index, a proprietary tool that measures the energy independence of the United States.
Developed at W&J by faculty members and economists Robert Dunn, Ph.D., and Leslie Dunn, Ph.D., the Washington & Jefferson College Energy Index provides a measure of energy independence based on consumption, type of fuel, geography and history. It is a one-of-a-kind logarithm that measures the energy security of the United States.
“We hear often about the need for energy independence in the United States, but what does that mean? How do we know if we are moving toward independence or away from it? There hasn’t been a simple measure of the level of energy independence of the United States. Until now. With the Washington & Jefferson College Energy Index, we can plot the country’s level of independence, consumption and reliance on various types of energy,” said Tori Haring-Smith, Ph.D., president of W&J.
Susan Eisenhower, chairman of the Eisenhower Institute’s Leadership and Public Policy Programs, marked the occasion with a keynote address, calling energy “of course, the lifeblood of all economies.”
“We are being asked to think the unthinkable about America’s own solvency and its own reputation as a country that can manage its own resources and its own long-term strategy. By 2030, the energy field is going to have to spend $2 trillion to upgrade, replace and expand power production and delivery infrastructure,” she said.
Eleanor Clift, contributing editor of Newsweek and panelist with the McLaughlin Group, called the Center for Energy Policy and Management “eye-opening” because of its emphasis on civil discourse in the energy debate.
In speaking about energy issues and the upcoming presidential election, Clift said, “We always like to be number one. We do not like to be left out of the race. There is really not a choice. This is the energy future, and if we want to be part of it, you have to get involved. This W&J initiative is eye-opening because it is counter-intuitive to what people are seeing on their television screens.”
The CEPM is led by Diana Stares, an experienced attorney who previously served as Regional Counsel at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), overseeing all of the legal work performed from the Pittsburgh office of the DEP.
“Using the W&J Energy Index, we will be able to determine how world events, energy supply, and changes in consumer activity impact energy independence. This tool will be of great use to policy-makers, economists, government officials and other decision-makers.”
The CEPM provides an opportunity for the free exchange of ideas and information, encouraging civil discourse in the energy debate.
CEPM initiatives include working to foster the use of compressed natural gas as a vehicle fuel, convening a group that evaluated the mechanics and economics of converting existing gasoline-powered vehicles, and establishing fueling stations to support those vehicles.
The Environmental Law Institute has partnered with the CEPM to research the social, economic, and environmental ramifications of boom and bust cycles associated with various industries in the United States (mining, timber, steel and automotive). The objective of this project is to identify strategies that communities can implement to maximize long-term benefits of growth associated with these industries.
Research on the economic impact of the Marcellus Shale development in Washington County is an ongoing part of the work of the CEPM. Yongsheng Wang, assistant professor of economics at Washington & Jefferson College and director of the financial economics program, leads this research.
The CEPM welcomes inquiries from other interested parties who would like to create partnerships in support of its work.