Government Action Report
The Government Action Report panel on energy legislation and regulation started with a question to the audience.
“Raise your hands if you think this election means today’s topic is now irrelevant,” says U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND). “Be honest.”
After a survey of the crowd, she says, “Look around. Nobody believes that. That’s good.”
Heitkamp, Dr. Julio Friedmann and Todd Parfitt were participants in a panel to discuss the future of energy policy and implementation, and how the industry can respond. Friedmann served as keynote speaker for Basin Electric’s 2016 Annual Meeting, and Parfitt is director of the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality.
Heitkamp says she asked the question because thinking a Trump presidency means an immediate fall of the Clean Power Plan is incorrect. “One of the most misunderstood concepts in Washington, D.C., is how long the event horizon is in planning. We can’t swing from cycle to cycle. … If you walk away from the discussion because you believe it’s over, we will miss a huge opportunity. This election opens the door to finding people to work with to find a path forward. ”
Heitkamp says the energy industry has “advanced the dialogue away from hell-no on both sides. … The climate folks believe they cannot make a difference without technology,” and therefore are working with industry to help the industry innovate.
Friedmann says in his experience, “Every CEO of every Fortune 100 company says climate change is real. They know they need to manage that enterprise concern to keep enterprise going.” He went on to say oil, gas, and coal companies won’t stop selling their product, but will take steps to help manage carbon.
He says carbon capture and storage (CCS), as long as it goes through the political lens, has a better chance of succeeding than if it doesn’t. He says the energy industry sees that spending money on CCS will make their jobs easier. “If we’re going to win this game as a country, we need to start getting hits. Dakota Gasification Company is a hit, Antelope Valley Station, Sanford, the Wyoming Integrated Test Center. This is what the work looks like,” he says. “There’s money to be made and prosperity to be hand. You don’t have to choose between a thriving economy and a clean environment.”
Parfitt says from a state regulation perspective, when it comes to meeting the Clean Power Plan, states vary widely. ”Some states have gone full-speed ahead, saying it’s the right thing to do, to work with EPA, all the way to, ‘Let’s put the pencil down, not do anything during the stay,’ he says. “I’ve said, and Wyoming has said, we will not go forward with a plan during the stay, but we need to stay engaged. The legislature made sure we had the resources to continue the dialogue so we don’t get behind the 8-ball.”
He says the tension is between innovation and regulation. “It’s about a commodity, coal, and the market moving away from carbon emissions," he says. "The Wyoming Integrated Test Center puts resources into innovation rather than in regulation; finding ways to capture carbon dioxide and create viable products.”
Friedmann says moving forward with a new president, it’s important to remember what he seems interested in. “Trump is all about infrastructure. What does that mean? Carbon capture and storage? Pipelines? You have the opportunity to bring ideas to the table, and they will be listened to.”
Heitkamp says she will continue to push for predictability. “The unpredictability we’ve seen until now is stymying growth. Let’s get certainty so we know what the game plan looks like. The energy industry’s event horizon is 10 year, 20 years.
“Let’s remind people that a miracle happens every day in America," she says. "They reach for a light switch and the lights turn on at peak demand. That doesn’t happen in every country in the world. In fact, it happens in few countries.”
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On Aug. 3, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency released its Clean Power Plan.
On Oct. 23, 2015, the Clean Power Plan was published in the Federal Register.
On Feb. 9, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court granted Basin Electric and several other petitioners' Motion to Stay the Clean Power Plan.
Go to the Clean Power Plan 111(d) page for our review of the plan and why it won't work for Basin Electric.