From 2002-2010, Sharp was Congressional chair of the National Commission on Energy Policy, a panel established by the Hewlett Foundation and other major foundations to make energy policy recommendations to the federal government. In December 2004, the commission released a long-term energy strategy, Ending the Energy Stalemate: A Bipartisan Strategy to Meet America's Energy Challenges. The report was widely recognized as a comprehensive roadmap for future energy policy, receiving considerable attention from Congress during the debate over the 2005 Energy Policy Act.
During his 20-year congressional tenure, Sharp took key leadership roles in the development of landmark energy legislation. He was a driving force behind the Energy Policy Act of 1992, which led to the restructuring of the wholesale electricity market, promoted renewable energy, established more rigorous energy-efficiency standards, and encouraged expanded use of alternative fuels. He also helped to develop a critical part of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, providing for a market-based emissions allowance trading system.
Sharp served on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where he chaired the Fossil and Synthetic Fuels Subcommittee from 1981 to 1987 and the Energy and Power Subcommittee from 1987 to 1995. He also was a member of the House Interior and Insular Affairs Committee, where he served on the Energy and Environment Subcommittee and the Water and Power Resources Subcommittee.
After leaving Congress, Sharp was a member of the National Research Council's Committee on Effectiveness and Impact of Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standards, which issued its report in 2001. He chaired the Secretary of Energy's Electric Systems Reliability Task Force, which issued its report in 1998.
Sharp served on the Board of Directors of the Cinergy Corporation from 1995-2006, on the Board of the Electric Power Research Institute from 2002-2006, and on the National Research Council's Board of Energy and Environmental Systems (BEES) from 2001-2007. In addition, he was appointed to the National Academies’ Committee on America’s Climate Choices and served from 2008-2011. He was co-chair of the Energy Board of the Keystone Center, was a member of the Cummins Science and Technology Advisory Council, and served on the Advisory Board of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO). He also chaired advisory committees for the MIT studies on the future of nuclear power and the future of coal.
Before accepting the RFF presidency, Sharp was senior policy advisor to the Washington law firm of Van Ness Feldman, and a senior advisor to the Cambridge economic analysis firm of Lexecon/FTI.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1942, Sharp was raised in Elwood, Indiana. After a year at DePauw University, he transferred to Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, where he graduated cum laude in 1964. He spent the summer of 1966 at Oxford University and received his Ph.D. in government from Georgetown University in 1974.
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