Book - Brookings Institution Press

Acting in Time on Energy Policy

| May 2009


Energy policy is on everyone's mind these days. The U.S. presidential campaign focused on energy independence and exploration ("Drill, baby, drill!"), climate change, alternative fuels, even nuclear energy. But there is a serious problem endemic to America's energy challenges. Policymakers tend to do just enough to satisfy political demands but not enough to solve the real problems, and they wait too long to act. The resulting policies are overly reactive, enacted once damage is already done, and they are too often incomplete, incoherent, and ineffectual. Given the gravity of current economic, geopolitical, and environmental concerns, this is more unacceptable than ever. This important volume details this problem, making clear the unfortunate results of such short-sighted thinking, and it proposes measures to overcome this counterproductive tendency.

All of the contributors to Acting in Time on Energy Policy are affiliated with Harvard University and rank among America's pre-eminent energy policy analysts. They tackle important questions as they pertain to specific areas of energy policy: Why are these components of energy policy so important? How would "acting in time" — i.e. not waiting until politics demands action — make a difference? What should our policy actually be? We need to get energy policy right this time — Gallagher and her colleagues help lead the way.

The contributors to Acting in Time on Energy Policy are Laura Diaz Anadon, Max H. Bazerman, David T. Ellwood, Kelly Sims Gallagher, William H. Hogan, John P. Holdren, Henry Lee, and Daniel Schrag.

A policy brief based on Acting in Time on Energy Policy may be downloaded here.

"Acting in Time on Energy Policy" makes the case for urgency in fostering energy technology innovation, policy innovation, and business model innovation so as to enable a public-private commitment to climate change risk mitigation.  It also puts forward a suite of policy and political recommendations that deserve the attention of President Obama and his formidable energy/environment team." 
— Professor Ernest J. Moniz, Director of the MIT Energy Initiative, former Undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Energy.


"This excellent book tackles the hardest questions in energy policy today, such as how to reconcile continued growth in energy demand with important challenges like global climate change. The authors insightfully identify sensible strategies for U.S. energy policy, taking into account the critical role of the private sector in the energy future of the United States."
— James E. Rogers, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Duke Energy


"For those determined to ensure that the United States acts in time on energy and climate imperatives, it is cause for rejoicing that Kelly Sims Gallagher has assembled compelling assessments that span a wide spectrum of issues and experts.  She and her colleagues offer consistently constructive solutions, as distinct from scholarly hand-wringing, and they deserve a host of highly attentive and influential readers."
— Ralph Cavanagh, Energy Program Co-Director, Natural Resources Defense Council


Kelly Sims Gallagher is Director of the Energy Technology Innovation Policy (ETIP) research group at Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and Adjunct Lecturer in the Kennedy School of Government. She has a M.A.L.D. and Ph.D. in International Affairs from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and an A.B. in international affairs and environmental studies from Occidental College. She is an international member of the Task Force on Innovation for the China Council International Cooperation on Environment and Development. She speaks Spanish and basic Mandarin Chinese. Her book, China Shifts Gears: Automakers, Oil, Pollution, and Development, is available from The MIT Press.

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Acting in Time on Energy Policy

Acting in Time on Energy Policy
For more information on this publication: Please contact Energy Technology Innovation Policy
For Academic Citation: Gallagher, Kelly Sims, ed. Acting in Time on Energy Policy. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, May 2009.