"This fall, over the next few weeks, we have an opportunity to addres in this country our energy future, both in the short term and in the long term.
And hopefully we will address it. Hopefully we can put the partisanship away. Hopefully we will be more concerned about energy for this country's citizenry than we will about who's going to win the next election.
Back in 1978, one of the other times we had energy problems in this country, Montana put out this book -- you can see it says '1978' right here at the bottom, that's when it was copyrighted -- called, 'Montana's Energy Almanac.' This book contains information about oil and gas and coal. It also contains information about electricity transmission, about solar power, geothermal, renewable energy, a myriad of other issues.
This book could have been written in 2008.
The fact is, is that we had a format to move forth with this country's energy future, and it didn't happen. He had the ability to develop a long-term energy plan for this country, and it didn't happen. Thirty years ago, it didn't happen. A generation ago, it didn't happen.
We need to make it happen this fall. It is critically important for this country. It is critically important for this nation's security."
Besides urging support for the alternative energy sources listed above, Jon mentioned funding for research and development ("clean" coal, battery technology, hydrogen, more efficient cars) and money for more transmission lines, a better energy grid.
First, it looks like drilling is inevitable. I know I've spoken against it as something that will benefits mainly oil companies at the cost of taxpayers and with little or no effect on the price, but it's a losing poiltical prospect to fight it. Perhaps a way to make, say, offshore drilling useful would be to mandate that a percantage of anything culled from our waters under new rules for drilling should be set aside for the oil reserve. And make the reserve big enough to shelter consumers from short-term and rapid hikes in oil prices.
Second, I'm usually dubious when it comes to the prospect of building high-transmission wires across Montana. They're ugly. They're bad for health and the environment. They're built to ship energy to California, driving up local rates.
But. At the Convention, I heard numerous advocates for clean energy say that Montana was one of the states with the biggest potential to produce wind energy -- if only we had the transmission lines to ship the energy out of the state. The question here is, is it worth it to build the lines to reduce our reliance nationally on coal-powered energy? And is it worth it to lease out state lands as wind farms to reduce Montanans' urge to drill and dig out oil and gas?
I say yes.
In any case, this energy bill is worth keeping an eye on. For all the 'sphere's attacks on McCain and Palin, this is the real test, isn't it? We'll see what kind of Republican party wants the White House. Will it be a party of obstruction and the advocates of corporate power? Or will they come to the table for the benefit of us all?