Past Seminar

Energy 2050: The Future of Alternative Fuels

Jun 20, 2005

About the Event


The Future of Alternative Fuels
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Dirksen Senate Office Building

Over the past two decades, the United States has invested heavily in research and development into fuel sources and technologies that could potentially reduce our reliance on petroleum-based transportation fuels. Bio-based fuels, hydrogen, and electricity represent the most prominent transportation fuel alternatives. Each of these sources faces technological and/or economic challenges of varying degrees if they are to become competitive with gasoline.

This briefing, one of a series on America's energy future, explores the policy issues surrounding the development and growth of the market for alternative transportation fuels.

Video of the briefing and commentary follows below.

Video of the Briefing
(To view the videos, you need RealPlayer. Get a free RealPlayer at





Edward F. Hand - Introduction
Acting President,
Resources for the Future



Link to Video 


Ted Hand is acting president of Resources for the Future. Since 1980, he has been RFF's vice president for finance and administration, responsible for all financial and administrative operations, including investment management, budgeting, accounting, contracting, human resources, and information systems. He was formerly assistant comptroller of the Naval Intelligence Support Center in Washington. In June 2005, the RFF Board of Directors appointed Mr. Hand to serve as interim president of the institution until a permanent president is named to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Paul Portney. Mr. Hand is a graduate of Brown University and received his masters in business administration from George Washington University.






Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND)
Congressional Host


Link to Video



Byron L. Dorgan (D-ND) was reelected to a third term in the U.S. Senate in November 2004. Prior to this, he served six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was named Chairman of the Democratic Policy Committee in 1998, a position he continues to hold today. Dorgan was Assistant Floor Leader from 1996 to 1998. Throughout his career in both the House and Senate, Dorgan has fought for the interests of rural America, for sensible spending reductions and responsible government, and to protect the environment.

He received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of North Dakota in 1965 and went on to earn his Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Denver. He later worked for a Denver-based aerospace firm. His public service career began at age 26, as the youngest constitutional officer in North Dakota's history when he was appointed State Tax Commissioner. He was later elected to that office in both 1972 and 1976, and was chosen one of "Ten Outstanding State Officials" in the United States by Washington Monthly magazine.







Daniel Sperling
Director, Institute of Transportation Studies,
University of California, Davis

Daniel Sperling is Professor of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science and Policy and founding Director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis. He also co-directs UC/Davis's Hydrogen Pathways Program and New Mobility Center.


Link to Video

Presentation Slides 
(Printer-friendly PDF format)



Dr. Sperling is recognized as a leading international expert on transportation technology assessment, energy and environmental aspects of transportation, and transportation policy. He is associate editor of Transportation Research D (Environment) and a current or recent editorial board member of four other scholarly journals.

He was selected a lifetime National Associate of The National Academia in 2004, is founding chair and emeritus member of the Alternative Transportation Fuels Committee of the United States Transportation Research Board, and serves on many advisory committees and boards of directors for environmentally oriented organizations. He consults for international automotive and energy companies, major environmental groups, and several national governments.






Carolyn Fischer
Fellow, Resources for the Future

Carolyn Fischer is a Fellow at Resources for the Future, where her research focuses on policy mechanisms and modeling tools that cut across environmental issues, including policy design, technological change, international trade and environmental policies, and resource economics. Her work in climate change and energy policy has explored designs for emissions training programs, particularly allocation schemes, and she has conducted research on Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, renewable portfolio standards, and energy efficiency. 


Link to Video

Presentation Slides 
(Printer-friendly PDF format)



Fischer also has taught at Johns Hopkins University and was a staff economist for the Council of Economic Advisers. She received her B.A. in international relations and economics at the University of Pennsylvania and her Ph.D. in economics at the University of Michigan.





Question & Answer Session


Link to Video





Briefing Summary

More Bad News than Good When It Comes to Alternative Transportation Fuels

The U.S. economy is rapidly becoming "re-carbonized," said noted transportation analyst Dan Sperling, who spoke at the June 20 Energy 2050 seminar on the future of alternative fuels. Reserves of conventional oil--cheap to extract and found primarily in the Middle East--are dwindling. In response, politicians and oil companies are looking for more sources of "unconventional" oil, which has large environmental and economic costs and produces high amounts of greenhouse gases (GHGs).


Facts and Statistics on Alternative Fuels



"The era of easy oil is over," said Sperling, quoting Chevron CEO David Reilly from a recent company advertising campaign. With two-thirds of U.S. oil imports being used for transportation, record-high gas prices, and ongoing, deep concern over our dependence on foreign oil, the big oil companies ar