This letter is paid content. Every day when I get up it seems another story is being run somewhere in the country demonizing coal and oil, while pushing for a clean energy future. Upon reading them I always find myself agreeing with their goal [a green future] but am deeply concerned about over-reliance on green energy as opposed to a full energy basket going forward.
As a child I remember hearing the phrase “Jack of all trades, master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one” and being told stories about the folly of the American South and its dust bowl during the Great Depression. The dust bowl, as any farmer will tell you, was the result of farms refusing to rotate their crops in hopes of better profits, as one crop was more profitable than the rest. In the short-term, this led to great times, but in the long term, was catastrophic and destroyed the South’s agricultural economy for decades.
It is this lesson that I fear people are forgetting. When individuals say we should abandon fossil fuels.
Wind and solar much like farming rely on factors largely outside of our control. As an example, on calm days wind simply can’t turn the blades, and in a period of rain, like we have experienced this summer, the sun is not a particularly reliable provider of energy. There are of course solutions, namely in the form of batteries, but any system with a single point of failure will never be safe, and we must always have the capacity to back up our green power with fossil fuel power. Additionally, transportation will for the foreseeable future require fossil fuels, as will production of many modern luxuries such as plastic.
However, just because green energy has single sources of failure does not mean we can afford to abandon it. As a result, I have led the charge to diversify our energy sector, with a focus on renewables in order to achieve energy balance. Currently, oil revenues from the west are helping to finance our green power initiatives, which have led to Grand Forks being a lead producer in the energy sector for North Dakota and the Midwest.
Drive down DeMers Avenue and you will see the result of these programs. LM Windpower has become one our largest employers, and shows our commitment to a green future. What I am proposing is that we continue to grow our green footprint without abandoning our dominance in the fossil fuel sector.
Coming full circle, what I am proposing is North Dakota’s energy sector become like our agricultural sector; the breadbasket of America and to some extent the world. Our agricultural economy is able to feed the entire country, and we produce so much extra that we are also able to export some of our products internationally.
Just as North Dakota no longer produces wheat and corn exclusively as in ages past, it would be folly to throw all of our eggs from the oil energy basket into the new green energy basket. As a state facing this new century, we must ensure we have a diverse basket of energy to provide for our country. North Dakota is primed to become the energy provider for the entire Midwest, and perhaps the country, but in order to do so we must diversify our energy portfolio to meet all our market needs.
Going forward, we need to maintain our dominant position in the fossil fuel sector, while simultaneously continuing to position ourselves as a leader for the green energy future.
Curt Kreun is the sitting senator for District 42 and is currently running for re-election this November 3rd.