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June 16, 2011

Host: Ted Simons

Affordable Energy

  |   Video
  • Retired Shell Oil Company President John Hofmeister, the founder and CEO of Citizens for Affordable Energy, shares his views on America’s energy future.
  • John Hofmeister - Retired Shell Oil Company President, founder and CEO of Citizens for Affordable Energy
Category: Sustainability   |   Keywords: energy,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Investment in clean, green renewable energy is an important part of our nation's sustainable energy future. But according to our next guest, renewables alone won't ensure that the U.S. Has an ample supply of reliable and affordable energy. John Hofmeister is a retired president of shell oil company. He's a distinguished sustainability scholar for asu's global school of sustainability, and he's the founder and ceo of citizens for affordable energy. Hofmeister is calling on the U.S. To implement a comprehensive energy plan. Earlier I asked him about what he envisions.
Ted Simons: Thank you for joining us tonight on "Horizon." clean energy, what does that mean to you?

John Hofmeister: Well, it's a symbol. It's a word. But it doesn't take into account all of the implications of every kind of energy. In other words, I say in my book why we hate the oil companies, there's no such thing as clean energy. Every form of energy has environmental consequences. Whether it's wind or solar or biofuels. Whether it’s Uranium for nuclear, whether it’s oil, gas or coal. Every form of energy has environmental implications which need to be managed.

Ted Simons: These environmental implications, regarding renewal, clean energy. Are they more manageable? Are they better in the long term for our environment?

John Hofmeister: Some affect the land, some affect the water, some affect the air. So you have to pick and choose. They all carry risks. Land abuse from wind farms. Land abuse from solar farms. Where water, with -- when it rains is eroding. I've been on wind farms and solar farms where the erosion it 15, 20, 30 feet deep from the lack of proper risk management. So all forms of energy have implications. But I maintain we need all forms of energy.

Ted Simons: Do you think that particular narrative is getting lost? Can you not concentrate on developing clean energy and understanding you need oil for a while.

John Hofmeister: There's a focus on what is sustainable and the view is that hydrocarbons are not sustainable. When actually we've not invested in technology that could make hydrocarbons sustainable. People think with wind and solar and biofuel, they're renewable. And in fact they are. And we should be developing them. But let's not think there aren't risk issues associated. Hydrocarbons are so much more energy dense, rich, that if people wanted to replace hydrocarbon with wind and solar, don't talk about hundreds of wind towers, talk about thousands. Don't talk about hundreds of acres of solar farm, think about thousands of acres of solar farms bacause that's what it would take. Now you're taking land out of use that could be used for other purposes. The whole point is – if you going to have an energy future, let's fully understand all the risks and not hype any particular form as a silver bullet or perfect. They all have issues that have to be managed.

Ted Simons: Do they need to be hyped in a certain way to get the battleship, if you will, moving in that direction? Obviously, no one, I think, very few people see a future in which not a drop of oil does anything. I think most folks understand the idea is to lessen the dependence on oil and we'll talk about that regarding energy independence, but the idea of maybe pushing too hard to get the thing started.

John Hofmeister: They have to be hyped and subsidized because the technology is so immature and so inefficient that no commercially oriented person expecting to make a profit on their investment would invest in solar or wind or biofuels without the hype or the subsidies. It's just not commercially affordable yet. There will come a day, I have great confidence there will come a day that through nano technology research, for example, which is at the molecular level of materials we can do electricity from the sun more efficiently. I have a hope that we will do wind much more efficiently than these big giant towers. And with the biofuels we haven't cracked the biochemical code yet to make scalable production of the fuels from biofuels but we'll keep trying. I think we're 25-50 years away from cracking the technology codes we have to crack.

Ted Simons: That means we may be 20-50 years away from energy independence - which is a big phrase out there,especially when we have so much other turmoil going on in the parts of the world that are oil rich. They seem to have a whole lot of other problems going on. Talk to me about energy independence. Can we ever be energy independent?

John Hofmeister: Absolutely yes. If we really go toward electrifiaction. And we can have energy that's virtually free. With the technology advances I anticipate in the next 25-50 years, we can use wind and sun and tidal movement for our electricity. The tide never stops. That's a renewable, repeatable 24/7 resource. Or river currents as another source of electricity that never stops flowing. The sun and wind tend to alternate. Wind at night and sun during the day. You could have a balancing system. If we can get more efficiency and if we will accept the vast use of land that we'll need. So we can get electricity from these renewable sources which don't cost us anything. Which is why I'm a big fan of these, but in the meantime, we should not be demeaning or telling people we're past hydrocarbons. We're not. For the next 25-50 years, we'll need more oil, more natural gas, more coal. Not less, more nuclear, because we're not there with the renewable natural sources of energy.

Ted Simons: Last question -- I think I asked this -- a different way of looking at this. Yes, that's necessary. I think most folks with common sense would say we're not going to turn on a dime. But back to the battleship analogy, you've got to start the engines going and the thing going. If it means a little extra hype and more in subsidy, all energy is subsidized. Some cleaner is subsidized more. If it means more subsidization, do you do it to get the thing rolling?

John Hofmeister: I think every new technology we've used throughout society, not just energy, there's always been what is in the interests of society, which is government's role. Government has a role to help promote what's new, next, and different. And so I don't have a problem with a period of time in which subsidies are used.

Ted Simons: Thomas Freidman, a columnist for the "The New York Times" talked about a Manhattan project is needed for energy resources, that changes the paradigm completely. Do you agree with that?

John Hofmeister: In a sense. But remember. The Manhattan project was time based in the midst of a war. We're not in a war. And if we push too hard too fast, we make energy unaffordable for people who do not have lots of means. Remember, the average median family income in America is $38,000 a year. That means half of all Americans have to pay for their energy out of that level of income and we have to be responsible to our fellow Americans, or our fellow citizens in terms of what's affordable. So if we do this Manhattan project and it makes energy four, five times more expensive than it is today and even with subsidies, I don't think that's fair and so time is our ally here. Let's use time to have a short term, a medium term and long-term plan. That's the way forward.

Ted Simons: And some would say, time is of the essence because of global warming, because of the fact that rivers are rising, the sea level is rising and the air worse around the world. We don't have that time to get off what we're doing right now and get on to something different.

John Hofmeister: Well, that's greatly in dispute by a lot of people. I believe that we could use a lot of technology to waste manage dirty energy and make it much cleaner. Where we use coal and oil and natural gas and uranium, our waste management practices, technology, has been woefully underdeveloped. And eliminate the waste that's out there today. The smokestacks that pour waste into the atmosphere. Water systems that carry it into the oceans. Let's fix that and then we have more time to develop the alternative forms of energy that really make a difference.

Ted Simons: Citizens for affordable energy. Talk to us about this group. People here, a retired or former oil executive who says we can't give up on oil right now, they might think that affordable energy to you means – let’s drill, baby, drill!

John Hofmeister: It does not. And I write abot this in my book. I don't support ‘a drill baby, drill’ approach to future of hydrocarbons, because there are sensitive parts of the earth that should be left alone. But citizens for affordable energy was started as an education effort. Just education, we're not lobbyists and we take no money from energy-producing countries. It's a consumer focused effort at education. Because when I was president of shell, I ran head on into misinformation, disinformation and lack of information which makes people believe false things about the energy future. Let's put out the facts. I'm -- allows the disinformation and misinformation and we're trying to put truth, non-partisan, non-political truth out there. About environmental solutions for the good of our society. I take no pay. This is a pro bono effort. I have no staff that is paid. We're all volunteers. And so this is a voluntary effort to educate Americans across the country, what we can do.

Ted Simons: Last question: A room full of oil executives on one side and a room full clean energy advocates on the other side, what do you tell them?

John Hofmeister: That we're all friends. We need every bit of energy to have a competetive economy. And the only way you have affordable energy is if you have more supply than demand, that's what we experienced in the 20th century. We had more energy available than we had demand and that's why it was so affordable. We do the same with the 21st century. We are never going to run out of energy!

Ted Simons: We've had people on the program saying that oil has peaked. The ballgame is over.

John Hofmeister: Well, the stone age did not end for the lack of rocks. The oil age will not end for the lack of oil. The earth will always have oil. We won’t want it, we won't need or want it, because technology will move us in new directions.

Ted Simons: Good to have you on the show. Appreciate it.

Ted Simons: That's it for now. Have a good evening.

Senate President Russell Pearce

  |   Video
  • State Senate President Russell Pearce talks about the effort to remove him from office and other issues.
  • Russell Pearce - State Senate President
Category: Legislature   |   Keywords: pearce, president, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: State senate president Russell Pearce has never shied from controversy. He's been a leader in immigration enforcement laws, and he's been a strong proponent of smaller government. A group unhappy with Pearce and his policies wants Pearce recalled, and early indications are that the group may have signatures to force a recall election. Here to talk about that issue and more is senate president Russell Pearce. For joining us.

Russell Pearce: Thanks for having me.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about the recall election. Looks like it's going to happen. We have verification to go. Your thoughts.

Russell Pearce: Well there’s a lot to go through. They had paid signature gatherers and when you're out there paid hours and hours to be out there, every post office and mall, you're probably going to get enough signatures, we know that, but they were told stories that are not factual and people are quick to sign. I look forward to the election. To be honest. I don't mind running every two years, running every year is a bit too much. I'm 16 in my district the born and raised there. My family is born and raised there. People know me and know what I stand for. The thing is I've done everything they elected me to do. Every year when I have an election, every time there's an election, the first brochure I put out is promises made, promises kept. I do what I tell people I'm going to do.

Ted Simons: First of all, regarding the paid signature gatherers. Virtually every initiative in the state has that part component. People are paid to do that. Its not necessarily unusual. But, it would be the first recall election of a state legislature in Arizona history. Does it humble you?

Russell Pearce: Of course, you do. I know there are good people that have signed those petitions that are out there. But the folks that lead this in reality make their living off this and the one guy who's a failed Democrat leading it. Failed democrat candidate for U.S. Senate, named Kyle. The other is an immigration attorney. People have to understand who these folks are. They’ve never been on my side. They're not mad because I didn't do what I say, they're upset because I do what I say. They're upset, you know, securing our borders, upset about limited government, about good fiscal policies. We went into the session and a lot of folks want to talk about the immigration issue. And I like to talk about those too. 30 states wanting what we have done in Arizona. But they forget the other things you know. Balanced the budget and bonding, an honest balanced budget. Put out a jobs package, that's going to be huge for Arizona, bringing jobs to the state of Arizona.

Ted Simons: Let's go back to immigration. Sounds to me, reading the petition that immigration was purposely left out. Quickly here, the petition read they need a leader who will pass laws to create jobs and protect public education and ensure access to healthcare for kids and those in need, that represents the beliefs of those in mesa and --

Russell Pearce: Remember, these aren't Mesa folks that are leading this.

Ted Simons: I got you. But have you protected education?

Russell Pearce: Absolutely.

Ted Simons: Considering the cuts to k-12.
Russell Pearce: Let's go through that. I would love to do that. K-12, we had a deficit for three or four years, trying to get rid of. And there were folks who still wanted to kick the can down the road. We came in and fixed - out of an $8 billion budget, a billion dollar deficit.

Russell Pearce: And fixed it with almost touching education?

Ted Simons: $182 million, k-12

Russell Pearce: Out of a $10 billion, this k-12 is a 10-billion total.

Ted Simons: But that's $190 hit.

Russell Pearce: It's a 2% reduction when other agencies had a 10-15% reduction.

Ted Simons: You did --

Russell Pearce: Absolutely.

Ted Simons: You think you did protect education?

Russell Pearce: I know we did, it was a priority with all of our members and I know we did. And we protected public safety which was a priority. And with the budget as it is with much the federal dollars that tie your hands. Some voter initiatives that increases that are automatic and tie your hands. It was a feat nobody thought we would achieve. Even the governor doubted if we could get there. We did get there.

Ted Simons: The recall mentions healthcare for kids and those most in need and when this comes to ahcccs cuts they were pretty healthy, to coin a phrase here. Did you protect the healthcare needs of these folks?

Russell Pearce: Did we take responsible action, ought to be the word. Absolutely. Arizona has the richest healthcare system in the nation and you have to trim somewhere. If you think healthcare is expensive today, wait until it's free. We reduced for childless adults and also put reforms in there, the federal government, for accountability and transparency, co-pays, if you miss an appointment, we have $25 million a year we spend in ahcccs for non-emergency transportation. The term should be clear to you what it is. We know there's fixing that needs to be done. It's unsustainable, unaffordable. The level we're at.

Ted Simons: You talked about the people in your district know who you are and know everything about you. People in your district, do you think they expected you do to things -- we'll list things. Supporting senator Scott Bundgaard, that was controversial. You supported a guy who has a ---

Russell Pearce: Now lets get this straight here. I said even a senator has a right to a trial before you hang him. You know?

Ted Simons: Did you not support Senator Bundgaard?

Russell Pearce: I waited until the facts were out. The truth is he has a right to have the case heard. Nobody knew the facts or seen a police report. You know, Scott -- I've known Scott Bundgaard a long, long time. I know him to be a good man. I wasn't there when this happened and saddened by the events and hope and pray that he get through it. If he’s innocent, he’s exonerated. If he's guilty, there's accountability that has to take place.

Ted Simons: Do you think the voters were voting for a guy who would get take the lead.

Russell Pearce: Media comes onto me on this. I didn't take the lead -- you know, just a little honesty would be nice from the media every once in a while. They love to put me in front of every parade. They came to me about Scott Bundgaard, a friend. I said, hang on, he has a right to a trial before you jump to conclusions, that's all I ask. Like any U.S. Citizen has a right to a trial.
Ted Simons: Something else that happened after the election, those are for the recallers, saying this is not necessarily what the people in your district voted for. The Fiesta Bowl--

Russell Pearce: Those aren't the people in my district, but anyway --

Ted Simons: They will get a chance, but --

Russell Pearce: Sure.

Ted Simons: The Fiesta Bowl revelations. Those were not out before the campaign, before the election. Do you think that kind of a person represents that district.

Russell Pearce: Yeah. The way the media portrays it, it's a difficult issue. None of us -- about 25 legislators that participated in working to bring a national championship game here. We didn't ask to go. They asked us to go. And I have reports to show that. Even newspaper reports admit that they were back then, before they became controversial. We work hard and I love the Fiesta Bowl, it's our non-profit charity. Now what went on behind the scenes, we had nothing to do with, can’t make up for that, can't address that. Those allegations need to be dealt with. But every one of us sought legal advice before we went, including me. I can tell you some that I know of have in the legal advice I got from house counsel, these are legal legitimate trips and educational trips to benefit – to bring a national championship game to Arizona.

Ted Simons: But you had to amend your reports. You had to --

Russell Pearce: Good point.

Ted Simons: An the ’05 navy game became the '07 game --

Russell Pearce: No, that was a transposing of dates. None the information changed. None of the information changed. I went --

Ted Simons: The Fiesta Bowl says they never wanted you to present a donation check. Never asked you to do that.

Russell Pearce: You have staff there, the folks there have left. Simply not true. They presented a $25,000 check to -- for the military reconstruction of an event there, asked me to go and represent Arizona, I checked with counsel before I went. The statutes are clear for a ceremonial event. You know what? If I want to go on a trip, I go. I paid for my stuff. I have paid for trips I'm not required to pay for.

Ted Simons: But the investigation suggests there were trips in which there's no receipts and no one can find you paying for the tickets or paying it back.

Russell Pearce: First, we never told -- I always asked for an invoice and when I got one, it was paid. My history shows that. In fact I have four receipts that I can't account for, I've asked for information about what did I pay for, they can't produce and say ‘I don’t know’, and refuse to give us the information. We went and gave it to the media. You know, it gets a little silly here. I never do what I can't justify and defend and good for Arizona and I do exactly what I tell people I'm going to do.

Ted Simons: Last point. You say you do what’s good for Arizona. We just had a situation with extending jobless benefits. A special legislative session that didn't turn out special at all. Do people in your district want a representative who looks at the opportunity to get federally appropriated funds into Arizona to help folks long-term unemployed and something and I forget your quote. Something along the lines - I'm not comfortable paying people to sit at home. Is that what people in your district want to have?

Russell Pearce: There are some folks who take advantage of this. The point is that's out of context like anything that the mainstream media seems to do. Never let the truth interfere with the story. The federal government requires to you sit home and get that money, one day a week. Let's make you certify each week in writing, where have you looked to make sure it's verifiable. That we have a track record. If you're getting unemployment, make sure you're looking for a job. My members at one point thought they might vote, and the day before the special, they came in and said, Russell, without real reforms but without a jobs package, I can't vote for it but I will if we can get all of that together in a package.

Ted Simons: But you understand how people who know people who are unemployed.

Russell Pearce: I know folks who are unemployed.

Ted Simons: Some wonder if you do. The fact that the money comes in without costing the state and pumps money --

Russell Pearce: Going to two years, two years without accountability? Without transparency? Come on. The taxpayers deserve accountability and transparency, it's their money, not my money. I am going to spend somebody else’s money. If I'm going to spend somebody else's money and the federal government’s money. I mean the federal government has no money. Every check they write should bounce. They have no money. But if you're going to take that money, all I wanted was accountability. There were many willing to vote for it without that. But it took an emergency clause. I didn't have 20 votes. Without the other measures, there weren't 20 votes. They don't want to write a check. They want to create jobs. Let's put them to work. That was the debate.

Ted Simons: Extending unemployment benefits, Fiesta Bowl revelations and Scott Bundgaard -- challenging the 14th amendment, trying to get nulifaiction, that whole situation, which didn't get too far. It was out in the press. We talked about it on the show. All of those things, you feel the voters who put you in office expected that from you?

Russell Pearce: I have been on this issue for years. Yes, they did. They know me. That's what -- you know, my brochures make it clear. I went overwhelmingly in my district on these issues. They want fiscal responsibility and transparency in government, borders secured and everybody forgets about Mr. Crandall who was murdered and the 12 police officers murdered and maimed, City of Phoenix Police Officers and a month ago, two officers shot and one died. Murdered by the landscapers. When is enough enough? I continue to do what I think I'm set to do and respect the constitution --

Ted Simons: And you're ready for the election?

Russell Pearce: Yes, I am. I stand for what I stand for. I never varied. This will be the first recall ever in the state of Arizona where they're attempting to recall a guy because he did what he said he was going to do. Keep my promises.

Ted Simons: We have to stop there. Thank you for appearing on the show.

Russell Pearce: Thanks for having me, Ted.

Ted Simons: You bet.