Helena Independent Record: Daines: We don’t want Washington dictating energy policy

Almost one year ago to the day, I held an energy summit in Billings with over 600 Montanans talking about the future of Montana energy.

This week I stood with President Trump, Vice President Pence, Energy Secretary Perry, Interior Secretary Zinke, EPA Administrator Pruitt as well as 20 coal miners to mark the start of a new era in energy production and job creation.

On Tuesday, President Trump took decisive action directing the EPA to suspend, revise, or rescind the EPA Power Plan that is stifling jobs.

Then on Wednesday, Secretary Zinke reversed harmful regulations and instilledcommonsense policies to ensure our state and Indian tribes have a seat at the table to protect Montana energy jobs and tax revenues for our teachers, schools and infrastructure.

Energy security is central to both our national and economic security. America leads the world in fossil fuel resources – we are number one, number two is Russia, number three is Saudi Arabia, number four is China and number five is Iran. When you look at the rankings, the world is much safer if America is not just energy independent, but is energy dominant. We have that opportunity before us now because of President Trump’s and Secretary Zinke’s leadership.

In my first official letter to then President-elect Trump the very first action I urged him to take was to rescind the EPA Power Plan. If this were to have taken effect, it would cost 7,000 good-paying Montana jobs and the loss of $145 million in annual tax revenue. Montana would have moved from being a net energy exporter to a net energy importer.

Also this week in the Senate Energy Committee, we approved multiple pieces of bipartisan legislation to protect Montana’s great outdoors: a bill to honor the life of renowned Montana conservationist, Alex Diekmann, by naming an unnamed peak in his memory, a bill to ensure the completion of two hydroelectric facilities in Montana and a bill to designate the East Rosebud as a Wild and Scenic River for future generations to enjoy.

In Montana, we all want clean water and clean air but we don’t want Washington, D.C., dictating how we should do business or which of natural resources we should prefer. Montanans are very fortunate we truly are an all-of-the-above energy state. Montana leads the nation in coal deposits. Montana is the nation’s fifth-largest producer of hydropower, with 23 hydroelectric dams across our state, and fifth in wind energy potential. In Montana we have it all — an unparalleled quality of life and an abundance of natural resources: coal, natural gas and oil, as well as renewables such as hydro, wind, biomass and solar opportunities. There shouldn’t be a false choice renewable and non-renewables: Montanans choose both.

Between now and the year 2050, we are going to add 1.6 billion people to the planet and we are going to increase demand for energy by 84 percent. We need to allow the market force to define where we are going to get that energy.

As I travel across the Treasure State and listen to where Montanans are on these issues, most Montanans are pro-natural resource development and they are pro-environment. They are both – Montana is a blend of Merle Haggard and John Denver.

January 20 marked an important transition in this country – but there’s another transition happening from the federal government, back to the people it serves.