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Sen. Tim Mathern, Published April 23 2010

Tri-partisan clean energy bill focuses on balanced solutions

Next week, Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., John Kerry, D-Mass., and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., are expected to release a Tri-Partisan Clean Energy Jobs bill. These senators have been working hard with their colleagues to come up with the best approach possible to create jobs, make us energy independent and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They have focused on finding balanced, nonpartisan solutions.

It will be no surprise when the bill is introduced that you will hear hot rhetoric that the bill goes too far or not far enough. The opposition will claim they want to do something, but just not this approach. They will use a variety of tactics to scare the citizens.

They will say we have a budget deficit and can’t afford to deal with this issue now. The fact is that doing nothing will eventually cost the country 5 to 20 percent of global GDP. Passing this legislation is the fiscally responsible thing to do.

They will say the bill will destroy the coal industry. This is not true. We are investing huge amounts of money into coal technologies, and this bill will create regulatory certainty for fossil fuel industries. Currently, the coal industry does not know what the regulations will be on carbon; therefore, it makes building a new plant impossible. Industry must know the cost of doing business to succeed.

They will say this bill is the brainchild of lefty environmentalists. As you can see by the sponsors, that simply is not true. You have a Republican, an Independent and a Democrat working with businesses, industry, agriculture and the military to find a solution.

Finally, they will say it will cost us jobs. Comprehensive clean-energy and climate legislation anticipates a future for coal and oil, and good-paying jobs in North Dakota are not going anywhere. Such legislation will accelerate the deployment of technologies in the fossil fuel industry and expand North Dakota’s potential for clean energy jobs.

Synapse Economics reports that improving North Dakota’s energy efficiency performance 20 percent by 2020 would save North Dakota consumers hundreds of millions of dollars and create several thousand new jobs through the simulative effect of utility bill savings.

When the opposition says they want to do something, but just not this approach, remember they will keep saying it until our country moves forward with a solution. As the sponsors of this important bill show us, this is an issue that can bring together members of all parties to a solution that creates jobs, protects our national security by making us more energy independent and protects our environment.

Sen. Mathern, D-Fargo, has served District 11 in the North Dakota Senate since 1986. He is a member of the Coalition of Legislators for Energy Action Now.