Brad Crabtree, Bismarck, column: Commissioner Kalk slights Denmark's achievements
By Brad Crabtree BISMARCK -- Having invited Danish Minister Soren Jensen to speak at a coal and biomass technology conference in Fargo, I must respond to North Dakota Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk's letter ("Energy emperors have no cloth...
By Brad Crabtree
BISMARCK -- Having invited Danish Minister Soren Jensen to speak at a coal and biomass technology conference in Fargo, I must respond to North Dakota Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk's letter ("Energy emperors have no clothes," Feb. 3, Page A4).
Without attending the conference nor evidently reading Jensen's op-ed in the Herald last November, Kalk described the Minister as "patronizingly scolding us for our energy policy."
To the contrary, Jensen was thoughtful, gracious and candid about Denmark's continued reliance on fossil energy and how much remains to be done for his country to transition to a low carbon energy economy.
However, Kalk's attempt to elevate North Dakota's energy accomplishments, while dismissing Denmark's, reveals his lack of understanding and experience. It's worth revisiting Danish achievements, which greatly surpass our own:
** No net increase in energy consumption for 30 years, with Danes enjoying our standard of living, but with half the energy use per person;
** Nearly one-fifth of all energy from renewables, including more than 20 percent of electricity from wind and extensive biomass energy production by farmers;
** Among the most efficient coal power plants in the world;
** A world-class clean energy manufacturing sector;
** A reduction in CO2 emissions of 15 percent from 1990 levels.
The Danes have accomplished all this while growing their economy 80 percent and weathering the global economic crisis with half of America's unemployment rate.
Indeed, Denmark already has achieved significantly more in efficiency, renewable energy development and CO2 reductions than current U.S. federal energy and climate legislation now before Congress would require of us by 2020. And its economy is in much better shape than our own.
Kalk's uninformed potshot at a Danish minister crassly disregards the interests of Grand Forks and our state. The largest manufacturer in Grand Forks is LM Glasfiber, a Danish producer of wind turbine blades. Also, Inbicon, a subsidiary of DONG Energy, Denmark's largest energy company, recently partnered with Great River Energy at the Spiritwood Energy Park near Jamestown, N.D.
Not only are leading Danish companies investing here, but also Denmark is a trusted U.S. ally, having prominently supported military operations in Iraq and now the NATO mission in Afghanistan.
You can be sure that Danish businesspeople and investors are not impressed when one of North Dakota's senior elected officials conveys such disrespect toward one of their country's top diplomats.
Crabtree is policy director at the Great Plains Institute and ranches south of Kulm, N.D.