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Issue Position: Energy

Issue Position

Location: Unknown

I am passionate about energy issues. As a member of the Senate Energy, Utilities & Telecommunications Committee, I am responsible for shaping state public policy that positions Minnesota and its citizens on a path for meeting our energy needs.

As we attempt to revolutionize our energy sector, it is more important now that Minnesota has a good working relationship with the federal government. For decades we have heard the term "energy independence" used, but now, more than ever, we are dependent on foreign sources of energy. If we truly want energy independence "every option" needs to be on the table.

Energy is the lifeblood of our lives and economy; therefore, it is important that we can provide that energy while keeping costs as reasonable as possible, especially during these difficult economic times. Minnesota has made great strides in renewable energy. In 2007, the legislature approved the Renewable Energy Standard, which established renewable standards and energy efficiency standards. This legislation is one of the most aggressive in the country, and it will take a tremendous amount of work and cooperation to achieve those standards.

In addition to achieving renewable energy, aging transmission lines also create problems for Minnesota. Studies indicate that by 2020 our current electricity transmission system will be maxed out (that is, we will not have the capacity to supply the energy needs of all Minnesotans), and as we expand our solar and wind generation, new transmission lines will have to be built. The proposal to accomplish this: CapX2020. This project, already in the works, will modernize our transmission line system across the state. However, much controversy surrounds the project over where, exactly, these lines will be built. The taking of property through eminent domain will be most controversial, but unless Minnesota wants to move to rolling blackouts like California, it has to be completed. To learn more see

Our national energy makeup in the future will likely be a combination of renewables, nuclear, natural gas, coal, and hydraulic. There is no one solution that will solve all our energy problems, and best estimates suggest wind and solar, by 2040, will at most make up 30% of our energy. We have to consider all options, including nuclear. As it stands, Minnesota has a moratorium on nuclear and coal generation; meaning legislators cannot propose any legislation seeking to explore these energy production technologies. We have virtually boxed ourselves in. Minnesota would do well to take note as the rest of the world, including most of our country, embraces nuclear power.

Legislation Chief Authored:

86th Session SF 25 Nuclear power plant certificate of need moratorium elimination. It is essential that we remove this 15 year moratorium.

85th Session SF 252 Establishes Elk River as the State's Energy Star City. 85th Session SF 1899 Bond appropriation to the city of Elk River to conduct a feasibility study of the Elk River renewable fuels facility.

85th Session SF 3546 (Law) Property tax exemption for electricity generating peaking plant. This legislation helped build the state-of-the-art Great River Energy natural gas peaking plant. Peaking plants are only used when our electricity grid faces high demand, due to extremely warm or cold days. Peaking plants reduce or eliminate the risk of brown and blackouts.

Posted 6/18/10

Cap and Trade

Rushing headlong into the Waxman/Markley cap-and-trade scheme and the promotion of green jobs and a green economy will have the same affect on the United States as did General Motors and Chrysler -- bankruptcy!

As a two-term Minnesota State Senator, two term Mayor and 25 year business owner, I understand a little about budgets and economics. As a practitioner of bio-chemistry working with complex water and wastewater treatment and reuse systems, I understand the remediation process well. Moreover, as a person that has actually read and studied the detailed published and peer reviewed science available on the subject of climate change, and gone back to college for the latest environmental and tropospheric chemistry, I am well qualified to comment on where this latest round of "green" proposals and cap-and-trade might send the United States.

On my return from the Heartland Institute's third annual climate conference in Washington DC and having the opportunity to sit in the gallery and listen to Congressional Democrats debate the virtues of cap-and-trade, it occurred to me that cap-and-trade is nothing more than a behavior modification tool that relies on making things so expensive that people are forced to change their actions.

Why not just impose a carbon tax? It would achieve everything that cap-and-trade would with greater efficiently and without the added government bureaucracy and shifty carbon credit scheme. Even James Hanson, head of NASA'a Goddard Institute for Space Studies and world renowned climate modeler, is vehemently apposed to cap-and-trade referring it to a "temple of doom." Hanson argues that a "cap" raises the price of energy, just as a carbon tax would. He also argues that the auctioning of carbon credits allows for a lot of "funny business" and that investors would want the process "mystified so they can make millions trading, speculating and gaming the system at public expense."

What evidence is there to suggest cap-and-trade will be successful? Proponents point to the acid rain program which did work; however, the science and technology were available and proven; all we had to do was steer the ship. No definitive climate science exists to suggest that any level of carbon reduction will do anything to our climates temperature, not to mention that according to recent paleo-climatologic reports, it appears the planet is heading for a cooling trend! The Europeans tried cap-and-trade and it was an abject failure. It only appeared successful do to the recent global recession.

The second portion of cap-and-trade is the ushering in of green jobs and a new green economy. What exactly is a green job and are they good for our country? Aren't we really just calling existing jobs "green" to create a sense of something new? Economic studies suggest that for every green job created several jobs will be lost. We will be replacing many good paying jobs with low wage green jobs. Spain's green jobs experiment failed horribly. Every green job Spain's government created came at a loss of 2.2 good paying jobs and of those newly created jobs only ten percent were permanent. We are holding Spain up as the example, but do we really want their 18+ percent unemployment?

So what are the similarities between the bankruptcies of General Motors and cap-and-trade? The United States has lost its edge by producing things the world doesn't want. We have not been the leaders in innovation for years. Education for our children continually demands more money and yet we never demand improvement. We fund institutions of higher learning with the intent of inventing things, or researching new and better processes; unfortunately, the universities are light years behind what the free market is doing yet we continue to pour good money after bad. We bind the hands of the free market with laws and mandates and expect innovation. Innovation demands a return on investment! We strip away businesses' profits and wonder why tax collections are down! Are we that ignorant? Perhaps we deserve to go bankrupt.

I believe I have always had a "green" job! I specialize in water and waste water treatment and reuse. I believe that water could be the next "gold", not because we abuse it, rather because we tax people to fix "pretend problems" then when we face the real issues of the day we find that we put off the problem until it becomes a "crisis" and costs the taxpayer more than it ever had to.

Posted 6/24/09

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