NATURAL DISASTERS ROUNDTABLE

FORUM ON NATURAL DISASTERS AND ENERGY POLICY

INTRODUCTION

The Natural Disasters Roundtable (NDR)1 held its second public forum on June 12, 2001 at the National Academy of Sciences Building in Washington, DC. The topic of this forum was natural disasters and energy policy—a session intended to facilitate the exchange of information and ideas and to stimulate discussion about the significance of natural disasters for energy policy. The topic was selected by the Roundtable steering committee partly in response to California’s energy shortage during Summer 2001, which occurred simultaneously with the Bush Administration’s development of a U.S. national energy policy. Specific topics discussed during this forum included earthquake risk management studies at energy facilities as well as energy and emergency management. It also included a panel discussion centered on legislative issues related to energy policy.

To address the scientific and political issues associated with natural disasters and energy policy, the NDR steering committee selected an interdisciplinary group of speakers and panelists from the United States and Canada (see Appendix A for the agenda). Due to the temporal limitations of a one-day meeting, this forum sought to identify a number of key issues for science and policy that may be addressed more comprehensively in the future. Approximately 75 attendees, including the steering committee members and speakers, attended this forum (see Appendix B for a list of attendees).

1  

The National Research Council defines a “roundtable” as a type of convening activity of the National Academies that provides a means for representatives of government, industry, and academia to gather periodically for the identification and discussion of issues of mutual concern. In contrast to National Research Council study committees and other committees of the National Academies, roundtables are intended solely to enable dialogue and discussion among key leaders and representatives on a particular issue. They provide a valuable forum for exchanging information and for the presentation of individual views. However, because roundtables are not subject to institutional requirements concerning conflicts of interest, composition, and balance that apply to NRC committees, roundtables are prohibited by the National Academies from providing any advice or recommendation.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 1
Natural Disasters and Energy Policy: A Summary of the Forum on Natural Disasters and Energy Policy, June 12, 2001, Washington, DC NATURAL DISASTERS ROUNDTABLE FORUM ON NATURAL DISASTERS AND ENERGY POLICY INTRODUCTION The Natural Disasters Roundtable (NDR)1 held its second public forum on June 12, 2001 at the National Academy of Sciences Building in Washington, DC. The topic of this forum was natural disasters and energy policy—a session intended to facilitate the exchange of information and ideas and to stimulate discussion about the significance of natural disasters for energy policy. The topic was selected by the Roundtable steering committee partly in response to California’s energy shortage during Summer 2001, which occurred simultaneously with the Bush Administration’s development of a U.S. national energy policy. Specific topics discussed during this forum included earthquake risk management studies at energy facilities as well as energy and emergency management. It also included a panel discussion centered on legislative issues related to energy policy. To address the scientific and political issues associated with natural disasters and energy policy, the NDR steering committee selected an interdisciplinary group of speakers and panelists from the United States and Canada (see Appendix A for the agenda). Due to the temporal limitations of a one-day meeting, this forum sought to identify a number of key issues for science and policy that may be addressed more comprehensively in the future. Approximately 75 attendees, including the steering committee members and speakers, attended this forum (see Appendix B for a list of attendees). 1   The National Research Council defines a “roundtable” as a type of convening activity of the National Academies that provides a means for representatives of government, industry, and academia to gather periodically for the identification and discussion of issues of mutual concern. In contrast to National Research Council study committees and other committees of the National Academies, roundtables are intended solely to enable dialogue and discussion among key leaders and representatives on a particular issue. They provide a valuable forum for exchanging information and for the presentation of individual views. However, because roundtables are not subject to institutional requirements concerning conflicts of interest, composition, and balance that apply to NRC committees, roundtables are prohibited by the National Academies from providing any advice or recommendation.

OCR for page 1
Natural Disasters and Energy Policy: A Summary of the Forum on Natural Disasters and Energy Policy, June 12, 2001, Washington, DC KEY ISSUES IDENTIFIED BY FORUM PARTICIPANTS Throughout the course of the forum, various participants suggested key natural disasters issues that relate to energy policy. First and foremost, it is apparent that the issue of natural disaster impacts on energy policy is interdisciplinary. Strong partnerships among the natural disaster community, energy policymakers, and stakeholders (the public) are needed to effectively address the problem. Such alliances facilitate the understanding of such complexities as the effects of deregulation on vulnerability to natural disasters and the uncertainties of extreme natural events. For instance, is it important for all groups to realize that scientific uncertainties exist, and this likely will continue. However, even though predictions of natural disasters are not always possible, utility companies can use qualitative forecasts to substantially minimize the impacts of natural disasters. Finally, partnerships provide direct, quick, and clear communications before, during, and after natural disasters, which promote efficient recovery actions and minimize chaos. Natural disaster preparedness and emergency planning can be improved by incorporating lessons learned from past disasters. A prime example is the admirable performance of Hydro-Québec during its worst ice storm in history, and its subsequent identification of key success factors and areas of improvement. Such lessons learned are extremely useful in highlighting necessary short-term objectives for long-term energy policy. In establishing long-term policies, several speakers stressed the need to identify and implement new technologies to improve and create resilient and redundant energy systems for use during and immediately following natural disasters. However, there are associated challenges that must be overcome, including the massive costs to the power companies to develop such systems. Finally, in addressing both short and long-term goals of global warming policy, an alternative approach was proposed that focuses predominantly on minimizing societal vulnerability to possible extreme weather events. Although the issues raised during the forum are not comprehensive, they warrant further attention by policymakers as national energy policy continues to be developed. We hope that this summary provides a useful starting point from which industry, government, and society can work together on developing economical, effective responses to future natural disasters.