Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat has had a rich career in government: working in four Democratic administrations over the course of 50 years, his most senior roles include Chief Domestic Policy Advisor for President Carter and Deputy Secretary of the Treasury and Ambassador to the European Union for President Clinton.
Eizenstat advised President Carter through the 1979 oil crisis and through a period of substantial progress on energy and conservation - they doubled the size of the national park system, passed major federal policies that helped increase renewable fuel production and decrease dependence on foreign oil, and even symbolically installed a solar panel on the White House.
During the Clinton Administration, Eizenstat served as chief U.S. negotiator for the Kyoto Protocol, which created the international treaty to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. He also gave host Jason Bordoff his first job in government, straight out of grad school.
On this episode, Jason and "Stu" reunite to discuss his new book, titled "President Carter: The White House Years." They unpack Eizenstat's unique insights into President Carter's stamp on energy and environmental policy, including deregulating oil and gas markets, conservation efforts, the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster, protecting Alaska's lands, and much, much more.
Jason Bordoff: Hello and welcome to Columbia Energy Exchange, weekly podcast from the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University. I’m Jason Bordoff. On this episode of Columbia Energy Exchange, I’m joined by ambassador Stuart E. Eizenstat. Stu was the chief White House domestic policy adviser to president Jimmy Carter and he’s the author of a new book called, “President Carter of the White House Years.” He also served later in his career as the deputy secretly of treasury, the ambassador to the European union, among many other senior positions in government. We sat down to discuss president Carter’s energy and environmental legacy including deregulating oil and gas markets, conservation efforts, the 1979 Iran oil shock, Three Mile Island nuclear disaster, protecting Alaska’s lands and much, much more. This podcast was a special treat for me since I worked for Stu 20 years ago when he gave me my first job in government out of grad school in the Clinton administration. It’s a pleasure to spend time with him again and I hope you enjoy this conversation. Stu Eizenstadt, thanks for joining us today on Columbia Energy Exchange.
Stuart Eizenstadt: It’s great to be reunited after our days in the Clinton administration.
Jason Bordoff: Well, this podcast is a treat to get to do because I get to spend time and learn from fascinating people who’ve had extraordinary careers in the energy sector and have the chance to spend two years doing that at your side, that two decades ago in the Clinton administration as you said, so it really is a privilege to have you here. I get asked by students a lot advise I have for them and the advise is so find someone you respect and can learn from and see if they’ll give you a chance to work by their side and you did that two decades ago. So, I’m grateful for it.
Stuart Eizenstadt: Well, thank you.
Jason Bordoff: And the purpose of the conversation today, there is so much to talk to you about. We can spend hours doing it. But I want to talk about energy policy in the 1970s. You have this extraordinary book, “President Carter: The White House Years” really, 999 pages. You’ve kept it brief not another thousand more.
Stuart Eizenstadt: Not all on energy.
Jason Bordoff: Not all on energy. I’ve read it twice and the sections on energy and the environment. I want to emphasize that too are really fascinating and so I want to talk to you a little bit about them now. So, I’d recommend this book highly to people. To start, let me ask when people think of the Carter years, they may have certain caricatures in their mind of what energy policy look like. They picture him in the cardigan sweater sitting by a fireplace talking about the moral equivalent of war. When President Obama, before he was president was asked in 2006 about the Carter administration and energy. I saw this quote where he said, that when president Carter was confronted with the problem of gasoline lines, the best Jimmy Carter could suggest was turning down the thermostat and I think that captures a perception people have about the way the Carter administration and President Carter handled the energy crisis of the 70s. So, can you start just by talking about what our energy system and what our energy policy challenges looked like when you were running for president with president Carter helping him run for president and then let’s talk a little bit about those four years at the end of the 70s.
Stuart Eizenstadt: Well, the remarkable thing Jason is that, he literally transformed the entire energy framework of the United States and laid the foundation for the energy security, we enjoy today in the 21st century and yet the lasting memory is not of that. It’s of the gasoline lines triggered by the Iranian oil crisis and one of the reasons, I wrote this book, “President Carter: The White House Years” is to try to give a fuller picture of what happened. And interestingly, when I was his policy director in the 76th campaign then became his White House domestic adviser, energy was not a major issue. People had almost forgotten the first oil shock.
Jason Bordoff: Which was just a few years before.
Stuart Eizenstadt: Only three years before. When Richard Nixon faced very similar problems, rising prices, gasoline lines, imposed price controls to try to keep the inflationary impact occurring. But at the time Carter was campaigning against Ford. Energy prices are gonna stablize. The gasoline lines roll and we went back to business as usual and business as usual meant slipping domestic production, increasing imports and by the time Carter actually became president, almost 50% of our energy was being imported. We had sliding even with the new Alaska _____ [00:04:55] sliding domestic production. We had a complete mess of an energy policy with controls and quotas on natural gas and crude oil. If you produced natural gas in Texas or Oklahoma or Louisiana, and you sold it there, you could sell it for market prices. Once it crossed, in effect state lines, and became interstate, it was subject to very rigid price controls. So, you had a completely dysfunctional energy situation and that’s what Carter inherited. Even though, we had not made it a major issue in the campaign.
Jason Bordoff: And it wasn’t, I mean the perception again, the 73 Arab oil embargo lines at the gas station as you said, caused not just by scarcity of supply but a range of other domestic policy failures that you inherited and then all of these steps were taken to build the strategic petroleum reserve, to reduce oil use, fuel economy standards, speed limits, getting oil out of the power sector which at the time, there was some use. But by 76, that really that urgency had abated.
Stuart Eizenstadt: Well, first we put the first fuel efficiency standards on. It was passed by congress before and we implemented them. And actually set the standards quite dramatically through 1985 and from 1985 into the 1990s, they never increased. So, what we did is we produced an energy policy that had three prongs. The first was to remove the price controls on natural gas and on crude oil to encourage domestic production. And indeed it did. We now are largest energy producer this the world. More than Saudi Arabia. More than Russia. Second was to put conservation at the center of our energy policy. Fuel efficiency standards, insulation and other requirements and incentives for buildings and third we inaugurated the new era of clean alternative energy. Biomass, wind and in particular solar. Solar today, Jason is 10% of our electricity. Carter symbolically and I was standing with him, I did so put a solar panel on the White House roof. Reagan promptly had it removed. But we augmented that symbol to say that in effect solar is our future by the first solar tax credit. And those have remained in place. So, those plus one or two others which is not recognized, we changed the whole electric system which had been a monopoly by the electric utilities and through a little known bill even today, called _____ [00:07:55], we required utilities to allow their lines to be used by small producers of alternative energy at so called avoided cost, at their cost. This transformed and made it more competitive our electric industry and then the shale production which is responsible for tremendous amount of growth in our domestic production. We pointed toward that with our last energy bill creating the energy security corporation and providing incentives for development of shale and heavy oil.
Jason Bordoff: So, I want to come back to each of those categories, the production of oil and gas price controls, conversation, clean energy and these three major energy packages that were passed. But again, just for our listeners to set the scene, you know, I think people not realize the extent to which in the 1970s, the concept of energy policy as a thing was still relatively new. Right, before the 1970s, we didn’t really talk about energy policy too much accept in the context of war and national crisis like that. So, when Carter came at office, it was focused on oil import dependence, it was focused on environmental protection in the wake of Rachel Carson, Silent Spring. But before that, there wasn’t really much focus on energy. So what did energy policy mean? What was the goal?
Stuart Eizenstadt: Well, there really wasn’t an energy policy of any consequence. Richard Nixon was the first to face the full brunt of the OPEC oil embargo and we lived in a sort of cacoon. We had been uniquely both a huge energy producer and the largest energy consumer. And the increase in imports gradually occurred in ways that weren’t so dramatic until the OPEC oil embargo highlighted it. So, president had no reason to have a nationwide energy policy. Texas commission setting prices and that sort of set prices for the U.S. and to some extent for the world. So, Carter came in to a vacuum and one of the problems with our energy policy which we started and again which resulted in all the positive things I’ve mentioned is that because Jason it had not been a campaign issue, the public was not prepared for Carter making it a major issue. Nor may I say, was I having been his policy adviser. It got almost no time during the campaign. And so, when Carter on December 9th, 1976 during the transition after we won before he was even inaugurated, said, I’m going to have a comprehensive energy bill.
Jason Bordoff: Within 90 days.
Stuart Eizenstadt: Within 90 days, it was a complete shock.
Jason Bordoff: Let me read one quote from your book. As a _____ [00:10:53] president Carter waited into this mine field not fully aware, the political line of competing interests and the money behind them. So, why did he picked this fight?
Stuart Eizenstadt: I think he picked the fight because he had been in the _____ [00:11:07] Navy with Rickover and Rickover had a major impact on him even…
Jason Bordoff: Admiral Hyman Rickover is the father of the nuclear navy.
Stuart Eizenstadt: Father of the nuclear Navy. And he had told Carter that energy was a major problem. In addition as governor in Georgia, he had to deal with gasoline lines and the impact of the embargo. And it was sort of typical of Carter, it was his strength and his weakness to see a problem, to one of comprehensive solution regardless of the political cost and then plow ahead. It resulted in great achievements but at a enormous political cost. That 90 day requirement was a disaster. We didn’t even at that time have an energy department. We later created it. We didn’t have an energy secretary. We had an energy adviser Jim Schlesinger who became the energy secretary. We didn’t have time for the economic analysis by the secretary of the treasury _____ [00:12:06] chairman of the council of economic advisers. And they revolted about ten days before the deadline and said, don’t send this up to lay it. We don’t know the full economic impacts at the time when we had high inflation. We didn’t have time to consult with the congress and bring them in. Every mistake that could be made in process was made. And yet, we ended up with a terrific result but at enormous political fallout.
Jason Bordoff: It was one of a little anecdote that I thought was interesting in the book when you just listed the reasons why Carter prioritized admiral Rick etc. You also in the book said, one of the reasons was his first CIA briefing as president in which the then director of the CIA warned him that Saudi might join Iran in raising oil prices and you remember who that was.
Stuart Eizenstadt: That CIA director and by the way was in plains, Georgia at the Carter home after the election, I was the only aid included was a fellow named George HW Bush. So, that had an impact too. But here is something also really important to understand. Campaign promises make a difference. In the campaign, as Ford was gaining on us, after we had an initial 30 point lead, Governor Boren of Oklahoma and Governor Briscoe of Texas got Carter through me to agree that we would support the deregulation of natural gas that is bring it to net, to world prices and not have this ridiculous system where if you sold it in the interstate, it was regulated. If you sold it in the producing state, it was world prices. This was critically important to us in Oklahoma, Texas and the Louisiana and getting him into the White House and yet Schlesinger _____ [00:14:02] convinced him to back off that commitment and to go with a very complicated program of raising prices for natural gas but regulating them both in the internal producing market and externally. And not raising them to full prices. Well Boren and Briscoe only learnt about this when it was announced. They were shocked. Briscoe never talked to Jimmy Carter again. He was so shocked. And Boren was so offended that in one of the 350 interviews I’ve done for the book, he said that he told president Carter, when Carter wanted his vote on the Panama canal how about what you did on natural gas. Everything in Washington is connected. So, it was the near fight president not understanding it and I blame myself as well.
Jason Bordoff: You also blame Jim[00:15:00]. You’re kind of hard on him.
Stuart Eizenstadt: I am hard on him because I think he was a great man. But he had a tenure when it came to politics. He had been a defense expert, not an energy expert and he didn’t appreciate the fact that the whole shift in congress even among democrats was toward decontrol and that the real power in congress came from the independent producers of natural gas who control substantial numbers of votes, republican and democratic and Schlesinger failed to realize that so we had a climatic leading in the cabinet room just before announcing this 90 day wonder and the president turned to me and said now you’re the keeper of the campaign name, what should we do and I said, Mr. President, you know, this was critical to our election. But here I was 33 years old, Jim Schlesinger was this great form of cabinet secretary supposedly wise man. And I said, I think we’re gonna have a really problem if we depart from it but if Jim feels that we have to politically, then I have to defer to him. It was the last time, I would ever defer to a cabinet officer. I had much more political sense than he did. So…
Jason Bordoff: And it was critical to the election because the support of those governors help to get producer states.
Stuart Eizenstadt: Absolutely.
Jason Bordoff: And…
Stuart Eizenstadt: The result with the energy bill was almost intact, the whole energy package we produced in 90 days was passed by an overwhelmingly democratic house headed by Tip O'neill the speaker. Almost everything like close to a 100% including natural gas, including not deregulating crude oil but imposing a tax to bring the difference between domestic and world prices and recycling the revenues. But when we got to the senate, there we faced the roadblock. We had Russell Long from Louisiana, we had senator _____ [00:17:04].
Jason Bordoff: Over this issue of.
Stuart Eizenstadt: Over natural gas. So that one issue delay the passage for 18 months of our energy bill and instead of Carter looking like this _____ [00:17:16] who would come in and really change and transform Washington and gotten this massive energy bill done which he did in the house, we ended up getting sliced and diced to pieces in the senate and finally put to pieces together. When he Carter came back to support deregulation of natural gas, our original position.
Jason Bordoff: And this may sound to some people listening as a little arcane but just spend one more minute on it because it is so important. We sort of take for granted today the way our energy markets work when it’s cold in the northeast, gas prices go up a bit, more supplies come in to meet demand. You write again in the book, colorful decades of political pressure combined with eccentric Supreme Court decisions produced a pricing policy that could only have been invented in an insane asylum. That’s how you describe natural gas policy in the 1970s. So, you summarized it before. It was market prices were set by the federal government when they crossed state lines. Talk about what ended up happening, what the eventual resolution of that was and what the political cost was and why is that so consequential for the way our energy sector played out over the subsequent 40 years?
Stuart Eizenstadt: So, after absolutely incredible struggle with a lot of drama that I portray in the book, we agreed on a compromise between the house and senate that would in price controls on natural gas gradually through 1985 and that really spurred production. But here is an interesting anecdote.
Jason Bordoff: And the reason, this was so controversial is, I mean, just to be clear, consumers were worried about price impacts.
Stuart Eizenstadt: All the consumer groups were against it as a giveaway to energy. All the northeastern states and Midwest industrial states were gonna see their energy prices increase because they had an artificially low control price on natural gas. But the way in which the final agreement was reached it actually quite dramatic and something you would never see in today’s polarized Washington. In the map room of the White House, named the map room because that’s where president Roosevelt followed the battles of World War II with his maps. He had two conservative republican senators McClure and _____ [00:19:33] and two liberal democratic members of the house Corman from California and Charlie Rangel from New York agree on this formula of phasing out controls and you would never see that kind of bipartisanship today. It was a tour force by Carter but again, only after we had gone through so much pain. The irony is, we would have been better off losing the natural gas fight in the house and having the republican alternative and conservative democratic alternative which was our campaign position. That would have been flown through the senate. We would look like heroes.
Jason Bordoff: Let’s talk some of the other aspects of that. First energy package ended up passing 18 months, two years later. You’re not known to _____ [00:20:26] but you write in the book, without fear of exaggeration, I believe Jimmy Carter did more than any president past or future to change U.S. energy policy for the better and to prepare our nation for the sound energy future we now enjoy. That’s a pretty powerful statement and it was a range of other things in that bill with regard to the way oil prices were regulated at the time, new prices, old prices, old oil prices.
Stuart Eizenstadt: Electricity.
Jason Bordoff: Competition electricity, conservation. Just so, give us a sense of why you wrote what you wrote.
Stuart Eizenstadt: It’s the foundation for everything announced following energy. We ended up after a great deal of pain and blood on the floor with market based pricing for crude oil and natural gas. That was important to encourage production but also important for conservation. I mean, if you’re getting artificially low prices for anything, food, housing, you’re gonna use more of it. So, by going to market pricing, it meant, we were getting more production domestically and more conservation. Second, we put in place specific requirements and incentives for conservation like the first fuel efficiency standards, for trucks and for cars. Insulation requirements and insulation incentives. And we inaugurated the clean energy era with solar, wind and biomass. As well as encouraging more heavy oil production, shale production, and competition in electricity. Those are all the components Jason of a sound energy policy. And may I say that no president since, not one republican or democrat has essentially changed that foundation. We laid every piece of it. Now, one of the reasons why Carter got so little credit for it is because the advantages of this policy only became evident years later and as Obama, president Obama, if you recorded earlier was saying, when he was asked about Carter’s energy policy, didn’t even appreciate the fact that everything we have today in our energy policy, market pricing, conservation, alternative energy, all emanated from the legislation that we created.
Jason Bordoff: And this was not, I mean, there was a lot of partisan, a lot of political battles as you said between producer states, consumers in the northeast but a sense of bipartisan consensus about what needed to be done for energy policy. Certainly on environmental protection and I want to talk about lands protection in a minute. The extent to which energy and environment is this hyperpolarizing politicized issue today, it’s different right.
Stuart Eizenstadt: Very different. I mean, Richard Nixon for example created the environmental protection agency. He was somewhat of a moderate on environmental issues. It’s totally changed to become much more polarized. I would like to go back however to the gasoline lines. Because this was the thing that people focused on. It took me 30 minutes to fill up at my neighborhood station to get into the White House to try to deal with the problem. And here I made…
Jason Bordoff: This was during the 1979 Iranian revolution.
Stuart Eizenstadt: Oil shock after Iran. Nixon faced the same thing in 73 after the OPEC embargo. And here I have to blame myself. Now, I blame others as well because Schlesinger didn’t push forward our economic advisers were concerned. At that point in time, there were price controls on gasoline prices as well on the prices of the pump. We could have ended in my opinion looking back those gasoline lines in a week if we had deregulated the price of gasoline. Yes, there would have been a spike in prices. But the flow would have gone nationwide and to show you how poor our judgment was on this, we had odd even days for people depending on your license but also we had an allocation system to allocate shortages to areas of greatest need. Well, here is the anecdote that I use. So, the energy department decided to allocate more crude oil and therefore more gasoline to the eastern shore and _____ [00:24:56] bay area where Washingtonians go for their vacations thinking, you know, this is where people drive. Not realizing, you have to fill up before you get there. And it showed government’s incapacity that this kind of allocation system to deal with the shortage. You have to let market mechanisms work.
Jason Bordoff: And so, say more about sort of the experience of the 79 oil shortages. I mean, this was not a physical shortage of oil, you talk about how it was driven by psychology, by fear and also when we think today, president Trump is going on Twitter on a regular basis to attack OPEC for cutting production, to call on the Saudis to increase production. There is nothing new about that. President Carter, you write about called the king of Saudi Arabia as well and said, can you please help put more supply in the market? So, even then, we have this dynamic where we were dependent on cooperation with countries that could boost supply and put more supply.
Stuart Eizenstadt: So when everybody thinks about the Iranian revolution. They think about the hostages. And I have said that there are four reasons, all of Carter’s accomplishment across the board, environment, energy, healthcare and so many other areas in the middle east peace process. All got lost because of inflation in Iran. And they were actually more intertwined and people realized because people think of the Iranian revolution, with all of the people in the street, with hostages held for 444 days. But the other impact Jason was in raising oil prices and creating shortages and gasoline lines. And that caused me to spend almost four to five months in a _____ [00:26:42] process trying to get policies together to deal with that. And what we ended up doing which was profoundly important is at the bond summit, Carter agreed and returned for getting the Germans and Japanese to stimulate their economies, in turn getting the French to agree to a World Trade Organization that he was going to decontrol the price of crude oil and what I worked on in the energy process and it passed is decontrol, that is ending controls on crude oil which Nixon had imposed and not lifted after the OPEC embargo tied to a windfall profit tax. To tax the difference between the controlled price and the world price and recycle that back in both lower prices, lower taxes, withholding but also alternative energy. That past, then it was a very important, ended up raising about $80 billion. And it was a way of getting liberal democrats who hated the oil companies to agree to decontrol while at the same time, we were able to get conservatives who wanted market prices. So, it was a very, very unique compromise and here I give Jim Schlesinger great credit. He helped put it together. He helped lobby for it. Jim did many important things as well. I certain don’t want to paint too bleak a picture of because of what mistake he made on natural gas prices.
Jason Bordoff: Can you say another word about the efforts, you made on efficiency and conservation, you know, when 76, when Carter was running famous for an affairs article that _____ [00:28:31] wrote about a hard path and a soft path focused on what we could gain in terms of efficiency and it still 40 years later, we haven’t picked up all the low hanging fruit that we can by any means. I think, it’s fair to say in terms of what could be achieved with efficiency. What did the Carter administration do and what do you think it’s legacy a few decades later?
Stuart Eizenstadt: Carter married what I would call a hard approach namely ending price controls and bringing market price with the soft part which was the conservation part. He didn’t feel nor do I that they were inconsistent. You have to have both. You want market signals to be given for production and for conservation. And you want to provide special incentives and requirements. So, for example, the Trump administration is now basically trying to end the fuel efficiency standards. That’s a mistake. There is a lot more to be done on conservation but it has to begin with market pricing and with creating incentives as we did for example with insulation. We also passed a gas tax that meant that any car got mileage less than 13 miles a gallon had to pay a special tax.
Jason Bordoff: And if I remember, part of the idea was to use the revenue to incentivize people to buy more fuel efficient cars like the fee proposal we talk about today.
Stuart Eizenstadt: Exactly. But the gas tax did pay us and became law and it helped provided incentives for our auto industry which initially as you would expect opposed it realized that this actually made them more competitive with Japanese imports that were already more fuel efficient. So, here you have to combine market signals with actual incentives and sometimes penalties.
Jason Bordoff: So, throughout the 1970s, one of the things then happened in the U.S. to increase domestic production of energy and cleaner burning ways was a ramp up in nuclear power and then you were in the White House when Three Mile Island happened. Just talk about that experience of Three Mile Island and what impact, it has had on the debate, we’re still having about nuclear power today.
Stuart Eizenstadt: So, Jimmy Carter had studied nuclear engineering. He was in Hyman Rickover’s nuclear navy. He was an officer in a nuclear submarine. He had a great believe in the importance of nuclear power. He saw it as a way of reducing our dependence on foreign oil. He saw it as a clean burning, in effect, a clean energy source, just like solar and I literally had Jason on my west wing office desk which was directly above the president’s oval office the _____ [00:31:29] sighting and licensing bill that would have cut in half the amount of time that it took to license and permit nuclear plans. Literally, it was on my desk ready the next day to submit to the president and then onto congress when Three Mile Island occurred. Now Carter acted very courageously then. Of course Three Mile Island was a disaster. But in the end, it was properly contained by the containment facilities. Carter to show it was not a health risk, went with Rosslyn, his wife, the first lady himself with yellow boots outside the sludge near the Three Mile Island plain in Pennsylvania with the governor of Pennsylvania to demonstrate that this was not a health disaster. However, the psychological impact of Three Mile Island and then you had later Chernobyl and even still later the Tsunami in Japan.
Jason Bordoff: It’s like the China syndrome.
Stuart Eizenstadt: It really was yes, and it was a death nail of an industry that is now struggling to take it back. You’ve seen Chancellor Merkel in nuclear power, a huge mistake as it increases the dependence on coal and I think one of the real problems is environmentalists and no one was more environmentalist than Jimmy Carter, somehow have turned off of nuclear power, make it a boogie man and it’s a major source of dealing with what we didn’t know at the time was climate change.
Jason Bordoff: You, I want to come to what you just said. No one was more of an environmentalist. You also not known for _____ [00:33:14] call and quote the greatest presidential protector of our nation’s natural bounty since Teddy Roosevelt. Also a strong statement. I, until, I read the book, didn’t actually appreciate the amount of land that he protected since Roosevelt.
Stuart Eizenstadt: But we did two things that were major in that area. The first is Carter took on environmentally damaging and very costly major water projects and dams which blocked free falling streams, cause rivers to be diverted. Created artificial lakes and every member of congress loved these. They could put their name on. Carter stopped it at a great political cost. But the big dam basically was over.
Jason Bordoff: After World War II, we had a huge decade or two of building dams all over the country.
Stuart Eizenstadt: Absolutely. And Carter stopped it in two phases. But, this additional thing, which I think is really enormous legacy is we doubled the size of the entire national park system that Teddy Roosevelt created in the early years of 20th century to the Alaska lands bill. And we did it over the fierce opposition of the entire Alaska delegation, democrat and republican who wanted the entire state open for oil and gas exploration which president Trump now wants to do. And Carter did it in typically Carter detailed fashion as I describe in the book. He took a giant map of the state of Alaska, laid it on the rug of the oval office. Got into his hands and knees with senator Ted Stevens, the conservative republican senator and showed him where every mountain range, where every stream, what would be in the park and protected, what would be open for development and Stevens marveled that having represented the state for 25 years, Carter knew more about it than he did. How did we get senator Stevens and the others to negotiating table? We did it through a very dramatic action called monuments designation. The president has now almost unilateral authority to designate certain areas as national monuments which puts them off any kind of development. Even fishing and hunting. And to bring the Alaska delegation to the negotiating table, Carter had the suggestion of a great secretary of the interior that we _____ [00:35:45] imposed a national monuments bill in that basically the delegation. Senator Steven and others said well wait a minute, we better negotiate this monument designation is gonna be worse than poison.
Jason Bordoff: We have a minute or two left but just one quickly, when people talk about energy policy values of the 70s, you often hear people talk about the synthetic fuels corporation. Just say a word about that.
Stuart Eizenstadt: So, we created an $80 billion loan guarantee program in the synthetic fuels corporation. And perhaps, it was too much but it did provide the first incentives for the production of shale, from shale oil from rock and heavy oil which is critical today. Reagan killed the whole thing. But it was a very important statement that this was also part of our future. Not just conservation. Not just production of oil and gas in traditional forms. Not just solar power. Not just nuclear but also unleashing the enormous amount of energy and oil that we have in shale and that’s one of the reasons now we have such tremendous production of oil in this country and why we are again the number one produce of energy.
Jason Bordoff: Other fuels too. I think ethanol wasn’t really talked too much about before Carter got the ball rolling. When people argue about whether that looks like a good policy or not today, I think renewables _____ [00:37:16].
Stuart Eizenstadt: Again, one of the reasons, for writing the book was to with all the mistakes that I layout very candidly his and mine and Schlesinger all the pettiness of members of congress. It’s very important to understand that the energy security, we enjoy today is based on the foundation, we laid with three major energy bills in four years.
Jason Bordoff: And what does it tell us about where we should move going forward? So, as you said, you deregulated oil and gas, let markets work. At the same time there were, I think there was a, you tell me, if this is right, broader acceptance in the 1970s about a more active role for government in energy, in the energy sector and we’re having a debate now about a green new deal and what the role for government is in energy, in the energy sector and in climate policy. What are the lessons that we should be taking today as we think about how to address climate challenges and other energy policy issues?
Stuart Eizenstadt: Well, I say as a democrat and as having helped president Carter develop and steer this energy bill through congress. I think the green new deal as it’s laid out goes way too far in terms of government intrusion. Government intervention of basically everything insulation standards and so forth. It’s just not going to work, let alone to guarantee jobs and things that are built into it. On the other hand, symbolically, it’s important to say that with the energy security, we have today, we now have another challenge we didn’t realize in the 70s and that is the challenge of climate change. And in the Clinton administration, when I was undersecretary of state, among other positions, I was the chief negotiator of the Kyoto climate change protocols.
Jason Bordoff: An assignment, you got with a few week’s notice.
Stuart Eizenstadt: With a few week’s notice but we were able to get an agreement that even though, it was not ratified by the senate, at least, identified the issue and put the U.S. on notice that this was a major issue, we had to deal with. So, we have a new challenge now, we didn’t have in the 70s and that is climate change and that requires us to have an even closer marriage between a sound energy policy and a sound environmental policy.
Jason Bordoff: And also some bipartisan consensus which is part of.
Stuart Eizenstadt: And bipartisan consensus which is in our era is very difficult. With all the partisanship that’s built into our system, going back to the founding fathers, we would not have gotten these three major energy bills without substantial republican support.
Jason Bordoff: Stuart Eizenstadt, thank you for taking time to talk with us on Columbia Energy Exchange. Thanks for taking the chance on me as a young staffer, giving me my first job in government. It’s a privilege to work for you and learn from you.
Stuart Eizenstadt: You have done more than take advantage of it.
Jason Bordoff: Thank you. And over time try to emulate the model you set over your career for what a career in public service should look like. The book is, “President Carter: The White House Years.” A short read, as I said, it’s only 999 pages but I have read it twice and I recommend it.
Stuart Eizenstadt: No, it’s actually, it’s actually under 900 pages. Other 100 page came index and so forth. And it’s done thematically, so if you’re interested in energy, you can just read the energy section. You want to know about the Camp David Accord, you can read the four sections on Camp David. If you’re interested in the Iranian revolution, you can read those two. So, it’s done thematically and it’s easier to pick and choose.
Jason Bordoff: It is great as I said, I can’t recommend it highly enough. So, I hope you all pick it up. Thanks to all of you for listening. For more information on the Columbia Energy Exchange and the Center on Global Energy Policy, visit us online at Energypolicy.columbia.edu or follow us on social media at Columbiauenergy. I’m Jason Bordoff. We’ll see you next week.