Researcher Profile

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Phil Sharp

President, Resources for the Future

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Phil Sharp became president of Resources for the Future (RFF) on September 1, 2005. His career in public service includes 10 terms as a member of the US House of Representatives from Indiana, and a lengthy appointment on the faculty of the John F. Kennedy School of Government and the Institute of Politics at Harvard University.

Founded in 1952 as an independent and nonpartisan research institution, RFF is the oldest Washington think tank devoted exclusively to policy analysis on energy, environmental, and natural resource issues. Sharp leads a research and administrative staff of more than 80 and oversees an institutional endowment of nearly $70 million.

Prior to his service in Congress from 1975 to 1995, Sharp taught political science at Ball State University from 1969 to 1974. Following his decision not to seek an eleventh consecutive term in the House, Sharp joined Harvard's Kennedy School, where he was a lecturer in public policy from 1995 to 2001. He served as director of Harvard's Institute of Politics from 1995 to 1998 and again from 2004 until August 2005. He also was a senior research fellow in the Environmental and Natural Resources Program from 2001 to 2003. 

Sharp currently serves on the board of directors of the Energy Foundation and on the external advisory board of the MIT Energy Initiative. He previously served on the board of directors of the Duke Energy Corporation from 2007 to 2014. Sharp was appointed to the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future and served from 2010 to 2012. He was also appointed to the National Academies’ Committee on America’s Climate Choices and served from 2008 to 2011. In addition, he served on the international advisory board of the Harvard Environmental Economics Program from 2007 to 2012 and chaired the external advisory committee for the MIT Nuclear Fuel Cycle Study from 2008 to 2010.

From 2002 to 2010, Sharp was congressional chair of the National Commission on Energy Policy, a panel established by the Hewlett Foundation and other major foundations to make energy policy recommendations to the federal government. In December 2004, the commission released a long-term energy strategy, Ending the Energy Stalemate: A Bipartisan Strategy to Meet America's Energy Challenges. The report was widely recognized as a comprehensive roadmap for future energy policy, receiving considerable attention from Congress during the debate over the 2005 Energy Policy Act.

During his 20-year congressional tenure, Sharp took key leadership roles in the development of landmark energy legislation. He was a driving force behind the Energy Policy Act of 1992, which led to the restructuring of the wholesale electricity market, promoted renewable energy, established more rigorous energy-efficiency standards, and encouraged expanded use of alternative fuels. He also helped to develop a critical part of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, providing for a market-based emissions allowance trading system.

Sharp served on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where he chaired the Fossil and Synthetic Fuels Subcommittee from 1981 to 1987 and the Energy and Power Subcommittee from 1987 to 1995. He also was a member of the House Interior and Insular Affairs Committee, where he served on the Energy and Environment Subcommittee and the Water and Power Resources Subcommittee.

After leaving Congress, Sharp was a member of the National Research Council's Committee on Effectiveness and Impact of Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standards, which issued its report in 2001. He chaired the Secretary of Energy's Electric Systems Reliability Task Force, which issued its report in 1998.

Sharp served on the board of directors of the Cinergy Corporation from 1995 to 2006, on the board of the Electric Power Research Institute from 2002 to 2006, and on the National Research Council's Board of Energy and Environmental Systems (BEES) from 2001 to 2007. He was co-chair of the energy board of the Keystone Center, was a member of the Cummins Science and Technology advisory council, served on the advisory board of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO), and chaired advisory committees for the MIT studies on the future of nuclear power and the future of coal.

Before accepting the RFF presidency, Sharp was senior policy advisor to the Washington law firm of Van Ness Feldman, and a senior advisor to the Cambridge economic analysis firm of Lexecon/FTI.

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1942, Sharp was raised in Elwood, Indiana. After a year at DePauw University, he transferred to Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, where he graduated cum laude in 1964. He spent the summer of 1966 at Oxford University and received his PhD in government from Georgetown University in 1974. 

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