COLUMBIA — Addressing the challenges of a changing industry and adoption of tangible state and federal policies were the focuses of the third annual Conference on Missouri's Energy Future.
The conference, which attracted about 150 participants, took place Thursday at the Bond Life Science Center at MU and was hosted by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Representatives from regulatory agencies and public service discussed topics related to Missouri’s use of energy.
Gary Forsee, president of the University of Missouri System, and Jim Thompson, dean of the College of Engineering, spoke at the conference.
“Dean Thompson cited the fact that the U.S. as a nation isn’t turning out the number of engineers as we need as opposed to India and China, for example,” said Dan Meehan, president/CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He added that the chamber, through its Mathematics Engineering Technology Science coalition, encourages students and teachers to go into those disciplines and raise public awareness about the need for training.
One of the presentations, led by Charlie Stenholm, a former U.S. congressman, senior policy adviser at Olsson Frank and consultant to the American Petroleum Institute, discussed the need for a policy that would support technological developments that would allow the U.S. to produce energy more efficiently while being safer for the environment.
Stenholm said there is not going to be a likely alternative for fossil fuels in the near future.
“We can produce all of the supplemental fuels that we possibly can,” he said. “We are still going to be consuming as much oil and gas 30 years from now as we are today.”
Because of this, Stenholm said, there needs to be a policy that lets American oil and gas companies produce what is still on public lands in order to provide that source of energy.
Although drilling for oil is necessary, the industry is still developing supplemental energy sources and environmentally safer ways of obtaining oil, Steinholm said.