What others think: Sound bytes on energy not neededThe Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce took vice presidential nominee Sen. Joe Biden to task for dismissing the vital role of coal and clean-coal technology for the future. Biden’s glib campaign comment that he’s been on both sides of this issue depending upon his audience was ill advised. Talking heads spouting sound bytes are not what we need in a national energy policy.
By: The Bismarck Tribune, The Jamestown Sun
The Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce took vice presidential nominee Sen. Joe Biden to task for dismissing the vital role of coal and clean-coal technology for the future.
Biden’s glib campaign comment that he’s been on both sides of this issue depending upon his audience was ill advised. Talking heads spouting sound bytes are not what we need in a national energy policy. North Dakota and its sister states need a considered and consistent approach to energy independence. And that will require clean-coal technology.
Presidential candidates Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain support clean coal technology. It’s a part of each candidate’s overall energy program. And, funding for clean coal research, as well as the extension of tax breaks and incentives for wind, ethanol and other alternatives, was included in the Wall Street bailout package that the two senators voted for. Both camps also have supported some carbon cap-and-trade.
This should not suggest that Obama and McCain are in complete agreement on a national energy policy. While they both support energy independence, how they get there isn’t the same. Obama puts emphasis on energy efficiency, subsidizing the development of ethanol and generating more energy from wind, solar and other renewable sources. Obama favors a “windfall profits” tax on multinational oil companies. McCain’s wants significant development of nuclear power (45 plants by 2030), and an end to the moratorium on off-shore drilling and market incentives to help develop alternative forms of energy.
Two other factors need to be considered in looking at how events in Washington might affect North Dakota’s energy future.
The energy plans developed by McCain and Obama were basically formed before the meltdown on Wall Street. If credit remains tight and the economy sluggish for a prolonged period, then financing and building additional energy infrastructure will be difficult. A vigorous national economy would support a vigorous energy sector in North Dakota.
A carbon tax or a cap-and-trade program might make environmental sense in reducing green house gas emissions, but it may make no economic sense to consumers struggling in a recession.
Whatever the next president wants in regard to a national energy policy, he will need help from Congress. A Congress bound and determined to reduce the nation’s carbon foot print at the expense of coal could make things very difficult. How much capital would either presidential candidate be willing to spend for clean coal? Energy policy in Washington has serious implications for North Dakota. Please, no more off the cuff comments aimed at sucking up to voters. No more games. No more patronizing campaign rhetoric delivered in snippets for daily media consumption. No more disingenuous accusations by any of the candidates on the presidential tickets. Get serious.