April 26, 2013

On April 24, members of Columbia University’s energy community and guests from across the sector assembled in Low Library to celebrate the launch of SIPA’s Center on Global Energy Policy. Professor Jason Bordoff, the Center’s director, shared his vision of a center that is the premier global source for “independent, balanced, data-driven analysis to help policymakers navigate the complex world of energy.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg congratulated the University and stressed the importance of rigorous analysis to understand fundamental tradeoffs regarding energy. Under Bloomberg’s administration, New York has made significant strides to upgrade its infrastructure and institute programs to move towards greater energy efficiency within the framework of the PlaNYC program. With the memory of hurricane Sandy fresh on our minds, he emphasized that the time to act was now. “We are going to use energy,” Mayor Bloomberg said, “Decisions have to be made where we will source it from. … Economic opportunities are reduced by not addressing climate change.”

Bordoff worked in the White House before joining Columbia, and a number of his former colleagues in Washington praised his tireless pursuit of excellence. National Security Advisor Thomas Donilon said that seeing a valued colleague leave was tough, but added that “SIPA chose well.” He elaborated on the interconnected nature of energy and security, pointing to the impact of shale gas and tight oil on solidifying American security. Carlos Pascual, special envoy and coordinator for international energy affairs at the U.S. State Department, expressed high hopes for the Center, highlighting the importance of compiling and disseminating information to catalyze learning and collaboration.

The acting secretary of energy, Daniel Poneman, spoke of Bordoff's tendency to be in the thick of things at all time, whether bringing together relevant contacts in Washington or being at the forefront of the recovery efforts in his home borough of Brooklyn after Sandy. Poneman said he looked forward to relevant research by the Center, stressing the interdisciplinary nature of energy issues. “Resilience of the grid and cyber security,” he underscored, “are top priorities in the energy agenda.”

ConocoPhillips CEO Ryan Lance spoke about the changing energy paradigm with regards to hydrocarbons. He identified three major shifts in oil and gas exploration over the past five years: the economic viability of shale, deep-water exploration, and Canadian oil sands. “The United States is experiencing and energy revolution,” Lance said, “which offers fundamental long-term changes. With natural gas reserves up 90 percent, the U.S. no longer needs to import [liquified natural gas], we could be an exporter.”

Daniel Yergin, an acclaimed author and energy expert, seconded Lance’s insights, noting that “we seem to be running out of oil continually, but then technology breaks through.” Beyond technology, Yergin discussed the intricate nature of energy, from demand growth in the developing world to smart grids and cyber security. “At the hub of finance, business and policy,” Yergin concluded, “the Center on Global Energy Policy is uniquely positioned in New York City to provide excellent research on the interaction of energy markets and policy issues. Jason Bordoff is the right person to build this center of excellence at Columbia University.”

Visit the Center on Global Energy Policy.

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