The energy hawk on Obama's team

Houston Chronicle:

President-elect Barack Obama's choice of retired Gen. James L. Jones to become his national security adviser won bipartisan applause because of the former NATO supreme commander's military and diplomatic track records.

But amid the rave reviews for his military accomplishments, his ability to speak fluent French and his basketball prowess, one line on Jones' resume was widely overlooked: his expertise on energy issues.

Unlike most of Obama's inner circle, the retired general, 64, has been a strong advocate of aggressive energy exploration and development, including offshore drilling and nuclear power.

For the past year, Jones has been president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for 21st Century Energy. Until his Dec. 1 selection by Obama, he also served as a board member of the Chevron Corp. — just like President George W. Bush's first national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, now the secretary of state.

Energy industry experts, business leaders and area members of Congress from both parties predict that Jones' presence will ensure that the "all-of-the-above" approach favored by Texas lawmakers — pursuing drilling, conservation, nuclear power and alternative energy sources simultaneously — will at least get a hearing in Obama administration deliberations.

"I like the idea that Gen. Jones is for a balanced approach to energy policy," said Rep. Gene Green, D-Houston. "He will be there and talk about that. Having that receptive person inside the room bodes well for the country and our region of the country."

During his 2003-2006 stint as NATO's supreme commander, Jones stressed his view that energy policy was a top national security matter for the United States and a leading international security priority.

As the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's energy institute, he delivered a 36-page policy blueprint to the Obama transition team that recommended aggressive drilling and energy efficiency efforts.

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Jones favors expanded domestic oil and gas exploration, including offshore drilling, wider use of nuclear power, rapid development of clean-coal technology and an emphasis on renewable energy sources. He has advocated a reduction in "burdensome regulations" that stymie energy production and industry innovation. He also favors U.S. engagement in global climate change talks.

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Environmentalists and nuclear power skeptics express concern about Jones' record but believe that he will not dictate administration policy.

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If the anti energy left is concerned that is a good sign. Jones position seems to be consistent with the one I have expressed here often. Whether he can prevail over the anti energy agenda of the left and the environmental movement is still to be determined.

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