According to research conducted by Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, electric cars hold greater promise for reducing emissions and lowering US oil imports than a national renewable portfolio standard. A press release issued by the university on Sept. 27 says this assessment is among several contained in a new policy study that is made up of a number of working papers on topics such as carbon pricing, the wind industry, global and US carbon and energy strategies, and renewable energy R&D. The executive summary explains the objective of the study: “As the country moves forward to deliberate on energy and climate policy, consideration must be given to what policies would best accomplish the stated goals for U.S. policy – a reduction in the need for imported oil and in greenhouse gas emissions.” The study and papers were presented at a conference held Sept. 27-28 titled “Energy Market Consequences of an Emerging U.S. Carbon Management Policy.” One of the interesting findings presented at the conference was that Baker Institute analysis found “the single most effective way to reduce US oil demand and foreign imports would be an aggressive campaign to launch electric vehicles into the automotive fleet.” According to Rice, mandating that 30% of all vehicles be electric by 2050 would reduce US oil consumption by 2.5 Mob/d beyond the 3 Mob/d savings already expected from new corporate average fuel efficiency standards. The move to electric vehicles also would cut emissions by 7%, the study says, while the proposed national renewable portfolio standard (RPS) would cut them by only 4% over the same time. According to the press release, researchers found “business-as-usual market-related trends might propel the United States toward greater oil and natural gas self-sufficiency over the next 20 years.” Research indicates carbon caps and pricing or a carbon tax as high as $60/metric ton or more could lead to a significant increase in US reliance on oil imports between now and 2025. Not surprisingly for those attuned to the shale gale in North America, researchers foresee natural gas playing “a very important role in the US energy mix for decades to come.” If the current trend continues, researchers believe the US will not have to import any LNG for decades. A positive side effect of the growth in natural gas production is that it will help the environment by lowering the demand for coal. Scheduled keynote speakers at the conference include Diezani Alison-Madueke, Nigerian minister of petroleum resources; James Mulva, chairman and CEO of ConocoPhillips; Edward Morse, managing director and head of global commodities research at Credit Suisse; Robert Stavins, the Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government and director of the Harvard Environmental Economics Program at Harvard University; and Felix Kramer, founder of the California Cars Initiative. It is too late to participate in the conference, but you can click here if you are interested in reading the full executive summary and the studies being presented at the conference.