Conrad hopes for bipartisan energy planCongress needs to focus next year on a long-term energy plan for the nation, Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said Monday. Conrad was one of the featured speakers at the Great Plains and Empower North Dakota Energy Expo in Bismarck. The annual event brings together the energy industry, policymakers, researchers and entrepreneurs to discuss energy issues.
By: By Teri Finneman, Forum Communications Co., The Jamestown Sun
BISMARCK — Congress needs to focus next year on a long-term energy plan for the nation, Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said Monday.
Conrad was one of the featured speakers at the Great Plains and Empower North Dakota Energy Expo in Bismarck. The annual event brings together the energy industry, policymakers, researchers and entrepreneurs to discuss energy issues.
“This expo is really intended to help unlock the opportunities right here in North Dakota because we can be the energy hub for America,” Conrad said.
North Dakota is the fastest growing producer of oil in the country and is on track to become the third or second largest oil-producing state in the next two years, he said.
Since 2007, North Dakota has seen a sevenfold increase in wind energy generation capacity, he said. North Dakota now has the second highest percentage of electricity generated from wind of any state at nearly 15 percent, and the state remains one of the top 10 coal-producing states, Conrad said.
“Investing in North Dakota is investing in our nation’s future,” Conrad said. “It’s investing in homegrown energy rather than foreign oil. It’s fueling our own economy rather than spending a billion dollars a day building someone else’s economy.”
Conrad believes 2012 could be a major opportunity to deal with the nation’s dependence on foreign energy and create a comprehensive energy plan for the nation.
“I think it’s critically important for the country that we focus on this next year,” Conrad said.
There’s growing recognition that there needs to be a focus on a national energy strategy, said Steven Koonin, undersecretary for science in the U.S. Department of Energy. Koonin, one of the expo’s speakers, hopes to see an improved strategy within the next two years.
It’s important for the fossil fuels and renewable energy camps to work together at the national level like they do in North Dakota, Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said.
Hoeven said he and Conrad are working together to get bipartisan support for the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act to try to create building blocks for a larger energy policy.
North Dakota developed its comprehensive energy plan over a decade and continues to build on it, he said.
Conrad believes there would be Senate support for a comprehensive, bipartisan energy plan.
“Congress, I believe, could come together next year,” he said. “I think it’s essential that we do.”
The two-day energy conference in Bismarck also included discussion on hydraulic fracturing, energizing the work force and financing energy projects.
Teri Finneman is a reporter at The Forum of Fargo Moorhead, which is owned bo Forum Communications Co.