There are few issues more critical, yet less well managed, than energy issues. The health of the U.S. economy depends on reliable and reasonably priced energy, yet our reliance on oil has been anything but a formula for reliability or stability. Moreover, our dependence on fossil fuels has meant vast emissions of greenhouse gases. This course, taught by The Washington Post’s energy correspondent, will look at the supply and demand balance for oil; how U.S. transportation policy has fed the U.S. “addiction” to oil; the mix of nuclear, gas and coal used by utilities; what role renewable energy sources are playing and might play in the future. We will touch on some of the international and domestic politics of energy, from the petro-states of Venezuela to the petro-state of Louisiana, from Russia’s power over Europe’s gas supplies to the impact of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, from OPEC to Alaska. In the end, students should be able to think about how they would balance issues of cost, security, and climate in fashioning a sensible, and doable, energy policy for the United States. The course will be structured loosely on specific case studies or controversial issues. Readings – most of them newspaper or magazine articles, speeches or position papers – will be tailored to give different sides of these issues or cases, incorporating elements of history, economics and politics. The course will take advantage of being in DC by including guest speakers who are in the thick of energy legislation, lobbying, litigating and investing.
Taught by Steve Mufson