Hillary Clinton: Fueling America’s Energy Future

“Energy cuts across the entirety of U.S. foreign policy. It’s a matter of national security and global stability. It’s at the heart of the global economy. It’s also an issue of democracy and human rights.”                                

– Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, 10/18/12

Elevated Energy as a Driver of Foreign Policy

Sec. Clinton significantly elevated the role of energy as a driver of foreign policy. According to National Journal, “Over the last year, Clinton has significantly elevated the role of energy as a driver of foreign policy. Last year, Clinton created the State Department’s Bureau of Energy Resources, charged with forging energy-driven foreign policy around the globe. In the coming weeks, she said, she will be sending out policy guidance to U.S. embassies to elevate reporting on energy and increase outreach to international energy partners.” [National Journal, 10/19/12]

Sec. Clinton stressed energy’s importance to American foreign policy because the U.S. had an interest in “making sure that the American people’s access to energy is secure, reliable, affordable, and sustainable.” In her remarks on energy diplomacy in the 21st century, Secretary Clinton said, “Energy matters to America’s foreign policy for three fundamental reasons. First, it rests at the core of geopolitics, because fundamentally, energy is an issue of wealth and power, which means it can be both a source of conflict and cooperation. The United States has an interest in resolving disputes over energy, keeping energy supplies and markets stable through all manner of global crises, ensuring that countries don’t use their energy resources or proximity to shipping routes to force others to bend to their will or forgive their bad behavior, and above all, making sure that the American people’s access to energy is secure, reliable, affordable, and sustainable.” [Remarks on Energy Diplomacy in the 21st Century, state.gov, 10/18/12]

Sec. Clinton created the Bureau of Energy Resources “for the purpose of channeling the domestic energy boom into a geopolitical tool to advance American interests around the world.” According to the New York Times, “At the helm of the new energy diplomacy effort is Carlos Pascual, a former American ambassador to Ukraine, who leads the State Department’s Bureau of Energy Resources. The 85-person bureau was created in late 2011 by Hillary Rodham Clinton, the secretary of state at the time, for the purpose of channeling the domestic energy boom into a geopolitical tool to advance American interests around the world.” [New York Times, 3/5/14]

  • Sec. Clinton’s Bureau of Energy Resources helped European nations reduce dependence on Russian gas. According to the New York Times editorial board, “American officials should use natural gas exports as one component of diplomacy that also includes assisting other nations with conservation and renewable sources of energy like solar and wind. The State Department, under Hillary Rodham Clinton, set up the Bureau of Energy Resources to do just that; it has, for example, helped European nations reduce their dependence on Russian gas by, among other things, buying more gas from Africa.” [Editorial, New York Times, 3/7/14]
  • Sec. Clinton’s Bureau of Energy Resources lessened Putin’s leverage over Ukraine and Europe’s energy supply. On MSNBC’s Up with Steve Kornacki, New York Times reporter Coral Davenport said, “Well, already actually, Putin has a little bit less leverage than he’s had in the past. The state department two years ago, under Hillary Clinton, created this bureau of energy resources which was aimed specifically at figuring out how to leverage this huge boom in U.S. natural gas as a diplomatic weapon. And already, this boom in U.S. natural gas, even though it’s not being exported to Europe, has loosened up a lot of supply around the rest of the world. Over the last couple of years, U.S. diplomats working on the ground in Ukraine and Europe have lessened Ukraine’s dependence on Russia for its natural gas from 90 percent to 60 percent… So, there’s definitely a strong diplomatic push to say, you know, if we can get some of that U.S. natural gas over to Europe or out in the global market, then in the coming years, we really could see Ukraine and Europe loosening that decades long chokehold that Russia has had on its energy supply.” [Up with Steve Kornacki, MSNBC, 3/8/14 (via Nexis)]

Iran sanctions were central to Sec. Clinton’s vision of energy diplomacy. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday described ‘energy diplomacy’ as a driving force behind U.S. foreign policy […] Mrs. Clinton detailed some of the highest-profile diplomatic efforts involving energy, including what she called the most important: sanctions on Iran’s oil sector. That required persuading Iran’s customers to stop buying its oil and oil producers to pump more to make up the difference. U.S. diplomatic efforts in Iraq helped unlock nearly a million additional barrels of oil a day, she said, helping make sanctions on Tehran workable and bolstering the Iraqi economy.” [Wall Street Journal, 10/18/12]

Advanced Energy Programs that Created Economic Opportunity

Sec. Clinton launched the Connect 2022 initiative to make “power more affordable, reliable, and efficient” and more economically viable in the Western Hemisphere. According to Sec. Clinton’s remarks at the launch of the Connect 2022 Initiative, “The Connecting the Americas 2022 campaign aims to give every person the sustainable energy they need at a price they can afford, so they can live their lives, do their work, educate their children. We’ve set ourselves a deadline of 10 years. We know it won’t be easy. Those 30 million-plus who are not yet able to access electricity are the hardest to reach. Otherwise, companies like some of those represented here would’ve already gotten them power long ago. So we need to expand power grids, develop effective off-grid solutions to reach remote communities, and more broadly, modernize the power infrastructure throughout the hemisphere. So not only can we can make power more affordable, reliable, and efficient, but we can make it more economically viable to add renewable energy to the mix.” [Launch of Connect 2022 Initiative at CEO Summit, state.gov, 4/13/12]

  • Connect 2022 promoted “interconnection” of energy resources between countries which created opportunity for U.S. businesses and “ultimately lower the costs for the consumer.” In her remarks on energy diplomacy in the 21st century, Secretary Clinton said, “Interconnection will help us get the most out of our region’s resources. It seems simple, but if one country has excess power, it can sell it to a neighbor. The climate variability across our region means that if one country has a strong rainy season, it can export hydropower to a neighbor in the middle of a drought. Plus, by expanding the size of power markets, we can create economies of scale, attract more private investment, lower capital costs, and ultimately lower the costs for the consumer. […] So one aim of Connect 2022 is to make sure that those 31 million people now do have power. With this single project, we will promote energy efficiency and renewable energy, fight poverty, create opportunity for energy businesses, including U.S. businesses, and forge stronger ties of partnership with our neighbors. It really is a win-win-win, in our opinion.” [Remarks on Energy Diplomacy in the 21st Century, state.gov, 10/18/12]

Sec. Clinton launched the U.S.-Africa Clean Energy Finance Initiative to drive private sector investment into Africa’s energy sector. In remarks at the launch of the U.S.-Africa Clean Energy Finance Initiative, Sec. Clinton said, “The U.S.-Africa Clean Energy Finance Initiative will help clean energy projects in Africa get started. This is an innovative partnership between three United States Government entities – the State Department, OPIC, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency. We want to drive private sector investment into the energy sector. We plan to use an initial $20 million grant fund to leverage much larger investment flows from OPIC. That will open the door then for hundreds of millions of dollars of OPIC financing, plus hundreds of millions of more dollars from the private sector for projects that otherwise would never get off the drawing board.” [Launch of the U.S.-Africa Clean Energy Finance Initiative, state.gov, 6/22/12]

Supported Renewable and Sustainable Energy Programs

Sec. Clinton promoted U.S. development of clean energy projects for Caribbean nations through the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas. In her remarks on the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas, Sec. Clinton said, “First, we will work to advance sustainable energy in the Caribbean. As I said, this is the area of the world most dependent on imported fossil fuels and suffering from the world’s highest electricity rates. That’s shameful in our hemisphere, and it shouldn’t be. The people of the Caribbean are creative, resilient; they’re able to lead the way in new forms of energy, and we want to be a partner. The United States will provide a grant to the Organization of American States to lend technical and legal expertise to any Caribbean country seeking to help get clean energy projects off the ground. We are committed to helping you with energy security. We think clean energy and energy security go hand in hand.” [Remarks on the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas, state.gov, 4/15/10]

Sec. Clinton launched 11 EcoPartnerships with China that collaborate on “clean energy and sustainable development.” According to a State Department fact sheet on the U.S.-China EcoPartnerships program, “The EcoPartnerships program is an innovative manifestation of U.S.-China cooperation on energy and environmental issues. Established under the U.S.-China Ten Year Framework on Energy and Environment Cooperation (TYF), EcoPartnerships establish formal collaboration between U.S. and Chinese stakeholders who work on clean energy and sustainable development. Eighteen partnerships already share best practices on preventing air pollution, mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, protecting water resources, developing technology for electric vehicles, increasing energy efficiency, and safeguarding natural habitats.” [“The U.S.-China EcoPartnerships Program,” state.gov, 7/10/13]