U.S. News & World Report: Traditional Energy Sources Are Key to Our Future

Access to affordable energy is critically important to every American family. While the United States should aggressively pursue an all-of-the-above energy approach, it is clear that traditional energy sources will play a vital role in powering our nation for generations to come.

As a proponent of an all-of-the-above energy plan, I know we need alternative energy sources to remain globally competitive and meet our nation’s rising demand for energy. But in order to keep energy prices low for all Americans and support our nation’s energy needs, traditional energy sources must remain at the center of America’s energy policy.

In Montana, more than of half our electricity comes from coal. Coal also powers good-paying jobs for thousands of Montanans, including Montana tribal members and union workers, and generates nearly $120 million in tax revenue every year.

Earlier this year, I held the first ever Senate field hearing on Montana’s Crow Reservation to hear firsthand the importance of coal to our tribal economies. Current unemployment on the Crow reservation is nearly 50 percent, but it would easily be over 80 percent if it weren’t for the local jobs that coal supports.

Yet an onslaught of duplicative and constantly changing federal regulations make it harder each day to develop our nation’s coal reserves and oil and natural gas resources.

The Obama administration’s so-called “Clean Power Plan” not only makes the construction of any new coal-fired power plants virtually impossible, it makes the retirement of existing plants inevitable within the next few decades.

Shuttering our coal-fired power plants would be devastating for our economy. Energy rates would skyrocket. Thousands of family-wage jobs would be lost. And critical tax revenue for schools and roads would evaporate.

We need to put in place today common sense policies that ensure we are making pragmatic decisions to secure stable and lower energy prices in the future.

Coal, oil and natural gas will continue holding a critical role in powering the world for the foreseeable future. Rather than dismissing this reality, the United States should be on the cutting edge of technological advances in energy development and leading the way in promoting the use of clean, affordable American energy.

Our nation’s coal – and specifically, the coal found in Montana’s Power River Basin – is some of the cleanest in the world. We have the ability to provide coal in the most environmentally safe fashion, to not only benefit our domestic customers, but the global economy as well.

As persistent conflicts overseas make clear, the world needs more made in America energy, not more made in the Middle East. We need to expand markets for American-made energy by lifting barriers for exports and moving forward construction of job-creating ports, like the Gateway Pacific Terminal.

More than 1.3 billion people lack access to electricity— more than half living in developing Asian nations. Coal-powered electricity won’t just meet a rising demand for energy in these regions. It will also help lift countless families out of poverty.

As the world sees an increased demand for power, it’s clear that traditional energy sources generated from our federal and tribal lands, including Montana’s Powder River Basin and the Bakken oil formation, have the potential to meet this rising global energy demand.

America is poised to lead the world’s energy needs. But we can’t do so without fully embracing an all-of-the-above strategy that includes traditional energy sources.