US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

Lugar Welcomes Energy Diplomacy Focus

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lugar Welcomes Energy Diplomacy Focus

As a former Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and current Ranking Member, U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar has been the Senate’s leading advocate for more vigorous energy diplomacy.

This week, he welcomed the news that the State Department is finally opening the Bureau of Energy Resources after several years of deliberation. The office is derived from legislation Lugar authored to establish an International Energy Coordinator. The office will be led by veteran Ambassador Carlos Pascual and will operate using already existing resources within the State Department.

“Energy security is a key challenge to United States national security and economic strength,” Lugar said. “Reliable and affordable energy supplies are essential to every American’s way of life. Disruption in oil flows and spikes in prices can cripple our economic recovery.”

“Our first goal for energy policy must be maximizing use of domestic resources to reduce our foreign oil dependence. That requires wise use of domestic oil, including enhanced oil recovery, along with more alternative fuels from domestic biomass and coal, and automotive innovation that will dramatically increase fuel savings for American motorists,” Lugar (R-IN) said.

“Yet, in a global market dominated by oil in unstable regions, we also must put energy diplomacy at the top of our energy agenda. That means expanding trade with reliable sources like Canada, promoting trade opportunities for American energy companies, pushing back against use of energy supplies for political gain, promoting transparent markets, and expanding energy access necessary for economic growth. I am encouraged that Ambassador Pascual is vigorously taking on this national priority.”

Associated with the Energy Bureau is the Office of the Special Envoy for Eurasian Energy Affairs, led by Ambassador Richard Morningstar. The Envoy is currently engaged in critical negotiations to advocate the strategically-valuable Nabucco pipeline proposal and open the East-West Energy corridor, which will provide a route for Caspian region energy resources to circumvent Russia’s current monopoly position.

Lugar authored the Energy Diplomacy and Security Act, passed as part of the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, and held more than a dozen hearings at Chairman. His legislation established a high-ranking International Energy Coordinator responsible for mobilizing U.S. diplomatic resources. The previous coordinator, David Goldwyn, launched initiatives ranging from expanding access to natural gas shale resources to launching or deepening strategic energy dialogues with important energy partners such as Angola.

“From fighting wars to secure oil-rich regions to trucking fuel convoys to meet war-fighting needs, American soldiers die for oil. The Pentagon spends tens of billions of dollars each year to secure access to oil. That is not acceptable.”

“Energy concerns pervade many of our most pressing security concerns, from preventing nuclear armament in oil-rich Iran, to bolstering the independence of critical NATO allies, to stabilizing nuclear-armed Pakistan, to cutting off terrorist funding. Concerns over energy access and reliability can be existential threats to our closest allies.”

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