The U.S. Chamber's Institute for 21st Century Energy Tuesday unveiled a five-part plan to tackle the major energy challenges cited by business and community leaders.

"From coast to coast, we heard firsthand from business leaders who are frustrated with our energy policy and want Washington to come up with realistic solutions rather than just rhetoric," said Karen Harbert, president of the institute.

The plan stresses the need for more production of oil and natural gas, and improved access to federal lands. "As the economy begins to recover, it is clear that increased efficiency alone cannot satisfy future energy demand. Yet we see more and more domestic energy resources being locked up," the institute said.

"Fossil fuels provide more than 80% of American's energy and allowing greater development of these resources is absolutely necessary to fuel economic recovery, bring new employment to millions of American, and increase the nation's energy security," it said.

"The federal government also must do all it can to make available, in a timely and predictable manner, the significant resources on public lands, which are ripe for energy development, especially renewable resources."

The second prong of the plan is to make new and clean energy technologies more affordable. "The biggest obstacle to greater use of new and cleaner energy is cost. There are several steps that can be taken to lessen this barrier without adding significantly to budgetary presses," it said.

"Our future economic competitiveness and energy security are dependent on continued financial and intellectual commitment to developing tomorrow's energy sources and applications while lowering the costs of the ones we use today. Government has a definite role investing in energy research and development, which should continue, but increasingly it is the private sector that develops transformative technologies. The research and development tax credit should be made permanent to encourage continued innovation."

The institute also called for a predictable regulatory environment. "Revising or constantly changing regulations is impeding investment in energy projects of all types. Policymakers should place high priority on those measures that are revenue-neutral given the current fiscal climate," the institute said.

It further proposed prioritizing siting and permitting of interstate power transmission. "A particularly acute problem is our inability to site and construct interstate transmission lines, which will be essential to creating a robust electricity grid...A federal preemption, similar to that existing for [natural gas] pipelines, must be created to cut through the burgeoning regulatory and legal obstacles," the institute said.

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