Approved by the Energy, Environment, and Water Policy Committee on January 20, 2022
Approved by the Public Policy and Practice Committee on May 18, 2022
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 22, 2022
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports a national energy policy that anticipates future energy needs and promotes a balanced national energy portfolio, including the development of clean and renewable energy sources while encouraging energy conservation and efficiency. ASCE recommends that the national energy policy include:
- Promote strong and continuing U.S. funding and commitment to clean energy research.
- Validate and implement clean and efficient energy sources to meet the nation's energy demands by relying on effective use of domestic natural resources.
- Reduce the environmental impacts and long-term management responsibilities including waste products associated with energy sources.
- Expand domestic development for renewable energy sources.
- Provide incentives to establish a market for cleaner energy production.
- Support the maintenance and development of infrastructure for energy operation.
- Provide a balanced and ongoing research and development (R&D) program for all sources of domestic energy production that encompasses both government and private industry and supports a U.S. clean energy supply.
- Support the assessment, development, and maintenance of a resilient transmission distribution network.
Population growth and economic development create demands for energy. Fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas have long been economical sources of fuel. However, while technologies exist to reduce the carbon emission (greenhouse gases) from fossil fuels, and as a source they are decreasing in use, fossil fuels still account for most fuel used for energy generation in the United States. Technology advances in generation and storage have continued to expand the supply of fossil fuels, namely oil and natural gas. There has been a marked migration away from coal to natural gas and renewables to electrical production. Achieving sustainability and resiliency goals dictate a continued migration from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.
Renewable energy comes from fuel sources that restore themselves over a brief period, do not deplete, and have low if any carbon emissions. Although some renewable energy technologies have an impact on the environment, renewables are environmentally preferable to fossil fuel sources. When replacing fossil fuels, renewables have potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
ASCE recognizes the importance of a diverse renewable energy portfolio. Such a portfolio can lead to research that not only develops renewable energy sources but improves nonrenewable energy sources. A diverse energy portfolio will not only yield reduced social and environmental impacts but result in more economical and reliable supplies of energy for the future.
Civil engineers use many strategies to promote reduced energy use in projects and minimize greenhouse gas emission. Most entail making design and operating decisions, while meeting all other performance measures. Some strategies promote using renewable energy and low-impact development techniques. Other mitigation strategies include minimizing energy use by reducing transport distances through use of local materials, using recycled instead of virgin materials, and using ecological engineering solutions. The life cycle net embodied energy needs to be considered the basis of renewable energy. Renewability lies at the heart of all these strategies.
Prudently managing our national energy resources and timely developing new renewable energy technologies and sources are public policy issues of concern to ASCE. Technological advances have expanded the available supply of fossil fuels the economics of energy production must be balanced against sustainability and environmental goals to mitigate greenhouse gas emission.
Planning and developing renewable energy sources responsibly have long been a role of civil engineers. ASCE recognizes the need for continued economical, reliable, and environmentally responsible renewable energy development and production in the United States. A national renewable energy policy that considers both short- and long-term needs and better aligns funding sources with sustainable renewable energy system needs will help guide civil engineers in their work. This is critical to industrial and commercial expansion, economic growth, and stability, and heightened renewable energy security.
ASCE Policy Statement 489
First Approved in 2001