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The big three

Editorial BY JOSH KRAMER


Josh Kramer, executive vice president and general manager, NDARECThe future of “the big three” – energy, electricity and the environment – is a hot topic today, as it should be. These topics spark passion, discussion and, quite often, disagreement. Too often, varying perspectives are either revered or ridiculed, even sensationalized. But it’s not black-and-white. At least, it shouldn’t be. There’s a lot of room in the middle.

Recently, two United States senators from opposing parties – Joe Manchin, D-WV, and Lisa Murkowski, R-AK – demonstrated just that. The pair wrote a bipartisan editorial calling for responsible solutions to, in this instance, climate change and challenging others to join them in their quest for middle-ground consensus.

They wrote: “(Climate change) is often portrayed as an issue with just two sides – those who support drastic, unattainable measures to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, and those who want to do nothing. We believe the time for sensationalism is over. And we are seeking ideas that will bring people together, rather than drive them apart.”

Simple. Straightforward. And perhaps applicable to other politically charged issues facing our country today and in the future.

The two senators went on to declare that they will work together on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee “to find pragmatic policies that can draw strong and enduring support.” Manchin and Murkowski also referenced the importance of new technologies and the work being done by the electricity sector to reduce carbon emissions.

Electric cooperatives have made substantial progress in the reduction of emissions from electric generation sources. Between 2009–2017, for example, electric cooperatives have achieved the following reductions: sulfur dioxide emissions down 68 percent, nitrogen oxide emissions cut by 34 percent and carbon dioxide emissions decreased by 9 percent.

Generation cooperatives are investing in, and working diligently to deploy, new technologies that significantly reduce and capture carbon emissions. Locally, Minnkota Power Cooperative, through Project Tundra, is exploring technology that could capture up to 90 percent of CO2 emissions at its lignite coal-based Milton R. Young Station. The captured CO2 would then be used for enhanced oil recovery or permanent geologic storage. Also, Basin Electric Power Cooperative is involved with the CarbonSAFE project to determine the feasibility of establishing a commercial-scale geological CO2 storage complex.

More than 30 percent of all the electric power consumed by electric cooperative members is produced by wind, solar and hydroelectric generated electricity. Electric cooperatives also offer programs that emphasize energy efficiency and conservation. These programs benefit all members, helping to reduce individual electric bills while encouraging members to take ownership in their energy footprint.

Our member-owned electric cooperatives are leaders and innovators when it comes to renewable energy, conservation and innovation. And we look forward to engaging in discussions about the future of energy, electricity and the environment.

Josh Kramer, editor-in-chief of North Dakota Living, is executive vice president and general manager of NDAREC, P.O. Box 727, Mandan, ND 58554-0727; email to jkramer@ndarec.com.