George Shultz, statesman extraordinaire, is enormously interested in energy. Aside from his expertise in the great geopolitical questions of energy security and global supply, he is engaged at a very personal level. The former U.S. Secretary of State owns a Nissan Leaf electric car and has installed solar panels on his house. In addition to his tenure as the world’s top diplomat, Shultz served in three other U.S. Cabinet positions: as Secretary of Labor, director of the Office of Management and Budget and Secretary of the Treasury. At present, Shultz is a distinguished fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
And he’s an eager participant and speaker in the upcoming Vail Global Energy Forum. “The importance of energy is greater perhaps than people appreciate,” he says. “In this country we are on the cusp of a genuine revolution in energy. It’s all there for the taking. The only problems are general understanding and political savvy.”
Increasing general understanding is one of the prime objectives of the Vail Global Energy Forum. The event, which will be held March 2-3, 2013, at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek, Colorado, seeks to engage a broad community in high-level discussions on energy policies and energy strategies.
Last year, the inaugural year for the event, Shultz was impressed with Colorado Governor Hickenlooper’s talk about how Colorado addressed the problem of crafting proper regulations for the application of fracturing technology. “It was impressive. We need more of that problem-solving approach,” says Shultz. “The technology can be tremendously beneficial, but it can be blown out of the water by misuse. We have to be sure that the known techniques for doing it right are used.”
Hydraulic fracturing will be addressed again this spring, encompassing both the technical and political sides of the debate. Another area of interest for Shultz is the assessment of the progress on development of alternative forms of energy. “There are an impressive number of first-class scientists and engineers working on alternative forms of energy right now. We have to be sure that effort is sustained.” The conference will explore areas of new technology, from batteries to fuel cells to large-scale storage. “We know that we are going to have to produce more energy where we use it. We are vulnerable otherwise,” he says.
Shultz thinks that energy self-sufficiency in our hemisphere is clearly within reach, and could potentially be achieved in the North American continent. Canada, the U.S. and Mexico are already working to strengthen their links and adoption of the new unconventional resource technology is widespread. “We are going to have a much more solid position in energy, and so will other countries as the technology is applied,” he says. That will change global politics and affect economies around the world.
“A forum like this can help to underline these points,” says Shultz. “I’m looking forward to constructive discussions in Vail.”
For more information on the Vail Global Energy Forum, and to purchase tickets, please visit http://www.vvf.org/vvf/info/vailglobalenergyforum.aspx.
(Photo courtesy of Ronald Reagan Presidential Library)