The Wind Blows Free- Or Does It?

02.21.2017 by @Reform_Juctice

This week political interests in North Dakota (the sixth windiest state in the nation) voted to move forward with a bill that would place a 2 year moratorium on wind development and permitting.  In an era of scientific proof on climate change and global warming, suddenly the clean choice is apparently “bad for business”.

Republican Sen. Dwight Cook of Mandan introduced Senate Bill 2314 to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last week, where it passed on a 4-3 margin. The bill seeks to prevent the Public Service Commission from approving any application for a wind farm that’s submitted in the two years after Aug. 1, 2017. This bill is “intended to guarantee that North Dakota has a reliable and affordable source of electricity in the future” and to “save coal.” Cook argued the bill is not an attack on any one industry, but that lawmakers should find out what effect additional wind energy projects will have.

While we can’t speak to Senator Cook’s thought process, we can look at his motivations. It is hardly a coincidence that this bill is introduced at the same time Republican interests have gained control of power and Donald Trump has mandated that fossil solutions be given the focus of United States development. The threat extends to the Paris Agreement, a universally acclaimed energy and climate accord signed by 132 countries to date.

This article and this site are not about politics. We are not here to discuss or attempt to convince people on political agenda. That said, we will discuss common sense and what is right or wrong with policies and players in charge of instituting change in the United States. This is 2017. The United States lags behind the rest of the civilized world in many areas, but perhaps most notably in recognizing climate change.

This week, Cook attempted to make the case that wind (and other “clean” energy sources) are somehow being wrongfully subsidized by the federal government to the detriment of the coal and oil industries. A federal government that also recently agreed to stop the approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline until environmental studies and negotiations with Native American tribes could be completed and resolved.

We could speak to the conflict of interest involving Donald Trump with Big Oil and fossil solutions, but that point has been well made elsewhere. The issue as we see it is the lack of common sense and pragmatic behavior from constituents and elected officials at the local and state level. Senator Cook claims to have the best interests of North Dakota in mind but how is it better or “more reliable” for ND citizens to shun renewable energy in favor of environmentally damaging, finite resources? Are we to believe that it’s best to mine/ burn/ emit every fossil source of energy before it becomes feasible to change?

The number of jobs affected by wind and environmental sources will far out-strip lost jobs as coal fueled power stations die the death of the fossils that bore them. Change is constant and smart businesses see the future. We would ask where is the foresight of the current administration (and the trickle-down ideology) who back fossil/ emission solutions?

Our environment and our very future should not be relegated to a political dispute, nor should it come down to corporate greed. When those two paths cross, it’s time to step up and force change. Common sense screams out that we develop (and subsidize) clean energy sources over fossil solutions. On a macro scale, the US should be leading the way with alternative energy methods, not fighting or withdrawing from the discussion. While drilling in the North Shelf of Alaska may be a boon to a select few investors, it is not the best plan moving forward. Fast-tracking oil pipelines and encouraging fracking is also not a long-term solution.

This is about jobs and accountability. Elected officials have constituents to answer to. My question to Senator Cook would be two-fold:

How is coal or oil fueled electricity “more reliable” for anyone when they are a finite resource?

How are newly created jobs “better” if they are in the coal/ oil industry instead of the wind/ solar industries?