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Energy Policy Challenges: Is the Past Prologue?
Wednesday, October 29, 2008

In the late 1970s, a series of studies was produced that surveyed America’s energy situation, including the landmark book Energy in America’s Future by scholars at Resources for the Future. Thirty years later, this symposium provided a retrospective assessment of the 1970s experience in order to extract lessons for current policy. In what ways is the past a prologue? Which projections materialized and which policy concerns proved justified? Which did not? With what confidence or humility should this retrospective inform current visions of our energy future, given the emerging challenges of energy security and global climate change?

A distinguished group of academics and policymakers drew on their extensive experience with U.S. energy policy to put the current energy landscape into historical perspective.  Panelists included:

  • Professor John Deutch (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
  • Robert Fri (former President of RFF)
  • Professor William Hogan (Harvard University)
  • Milton Russell (Emeritus — University of Tennessee)
  • Phil Sharp (President of RFF)

Download Agenda
Listen to Event Audio: Parts 1 , Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

Agenda and Event Videos

The 1970s All Over Again? Or Truly a Paradigm Shift?


Introduction: U.S. Energy Policies: The Ebb and Flow over the Last 35 Years
Phil Sharp, RFF President

Phil Sharp
William Hogan, Raymond Plank Professor of Global Energy Policy,
John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

William Hogan
Link to slides

John W. Anderson, Journalist-in-Residence, RFF

John Anderson

Panelist Question and Answer Session

Question and Answer

Audio: Part 1

From SFC to FutureGen: Technology Lessons Learned, Learnable, or Ignored

Robert Fri, Visiting Scholar and Former President, RFF

Robert Fri
Link to slides

David Goldston, Former Chief of Staff, U.S. House Science Committee; columnist, Nature magazine

David Goldston

Panel Question and Answer Session

Question and Answer

Audio: Part 2

Emergence of Security Concerns


John Deutch, Institute Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

John Deutch

Joel Darmstadter, Senior Fellow, RFF
Joel Darmstadter
Panelist Question and Answer Session Question and Answer

Audio: Part 3

The Elusive Search for Consensus

Milton Russell, Professor Emeritus, Economics Department, University of Tennessee

   Milton Russel
Panel Question and Answer featuring Phil Sharp, President, RFF    Question and Answer

Audio: Part 4

Hans Landsberg’s ‘Let’s All Play Energy Policy’

What can we learn from the way some of the major energy and environmental studies of the past succeeded, or failed, in anticipating the challenges we face today?  Just one persistent impediment to crafting coherent energy policies has been a deep-seated division among interest groups and ideologies.  Thus, the 1980 essay below, which addresses these paralyzing forces, has continuing salience.  Its author, Hans Landsberg (1913-2001), was for many years one of RFF’s prominent researchers.  This special RFF Seminar will revisit a wide range of energy-environmental issues within a 30-year historical perspective.

   Landsberg Cover

Download the Publication (PDF)

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