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Dick Weber, Published August 19 2010

Crabtree’s ideas show leadership

As a former executive with 30 years experience in our electric power industry, I was troubled by North Dakota Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer’s recent response to opponent Brad Crabtree’s lignite coal technology recommendations.

Cramer termed “fantasy” Crabtree’s proposal that North Dakota match the U.S. Department of Energy’s commitment of $100 million to Basin Electric’s carbon capture and storage project at its Antelope Valley power plant. Cramer rails against Washington spending, then claims crucial lignite technology investments are the federal government’s role, not the state’s.

Our lignite coal industry provides 28,000 jobs and more than $90 million in annual tax revenue. Cramer doesn’t want to invest a small portion of our surplus to protect North Dakotans’ jobs and future tax base. Instead, he would rely on the debt-ridden federal government for the heavy lifting?

Cramer also dismissed Crabtree’s recommendations on underground coal gasification, saying Crabtree was late to the party. That’s downright dishonest. Just last month, Cramer openly admitted to the Bismarck Tribune that he was unfamiliar with underground coal gasification – one of many advanced coal technologies that Crabtree has worked effectively for years to support.

Crabtree’s proposals to invest in next-generation technologies to safeguard our lignite industry and North Dakota jobs represent real leadership, not fantasy.