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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R)

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Friday, August 1, 2008
Not long ago, Minnesota motorists topped off their gas tanks paying $4 for a gallon of gasoline, and natural gas companies told customers to expect record high rates. Many people are afraid that they won’t be able to afford what the supply-starved markets deal them this winter. The demand for reliable electricity is also going up, as is the cost of our electric bills. In our area, the CapX 2020 plan, which is a joint transmission planning effort among 11 utilities that own transmission lines in Minnesota and the surrounding region, will attempt to ease this burden. But more long-term, cost effective methods need to be implemented on a national and statewide basis in order to curb the overall rising costs of energy and gasoline. In short, we need to declare our energy independence. And the time to act is right now. The time has come to allow and encourage the private sector to expand the supply of our energy sources - including oil, nuclear power, wind, solar, clean coal technologies, gasification, and hydrogen. This means we need to take some bold steps, beginning by lifting the moratorium on constructing nuclear power plants in Minnesota. It means encouraging Congress to end the restrictions on offshore drilling. It means bringing forward state tax exemptions for companies that conduct research, development, and production of alternative energy sources. These solutions will increase the energy supply in Minnesota and place downward pressure on energy prices. Our economy will respond and begin firing on all cylinders again. Minnesota has a new law in place requiring that 25% of Minnesota’s energy be derived from renewable resources by the year 2025. While this creates a high renewable energy standard, we can achieve these goals by introducing the needed incentives for research, conservation, and efficiency. From 1980 to 2000, our electricity use increased 2.9 percent each year. Minnesota is not building any base load power plants to supply the growing needs. It’s clear that the future demand for energy will outpace production, if we fail to act. Part of this problem is the outright refusal by many of our leaders to consider nuclear energy in the renewable category. This is despite the fact that nuclear power plants do not pollute the air with nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, dust or carbon dioxide, and is the second largest source of safe, affordable electric power in America today. It is time for Minnesota to be a leader in establishing energy independence, not simply establishing an energy standard. Minnesota’s working families are paying more than ever before for energy - and there are no signs of that trend reversing. We must declare our energy independence and have the courage to take long overdue action.
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