Greens: Letting Fruit Die on the Vine

Aaron Flint posted on March 28, 2011 11:27 :: 1666 Views

Remember the whole “green jobs” mantra that came from the White House, the Left, and even our own US Senators here in Montana?  The argument essentially boiled down to this: pass new regulations and some form of a carbon emissions trading system, and it will create thousands of new “green jobs” in wind, solar, and other forms of alternative energy.  Their basic argument: make traditional forms of energy more expensive, and new green power and green jobs will come about.    

What critics of those arguments, including myself, said at the time, was that wind power projects were ready to come online without expensive new job killing, energy-price raising mandates and programs.  If you want green power; you simply need more transmission line capacity.  

So here we stand in Montana: $1 billion in wind power generation is ready to come online.  Are they just waiting for a mandate from the federal government?  Nope.  Are they waiting for a cap and trade system to come online? Nope.  They simply need a transmission line built that will take the power from the wind farm to the market.  And guess who is standing in the way of one of Governor Brian Schweitzer (D-MT) and the Republican legislative majority’s plan to help build new transmission.  In case you missed it last week, Mike Dennison filed this report:

Supporters of “green” power development have been backing the MATL line, as has the governor, and now they’re backing away from the bill that helps the line go forward, (Senate President) Jim Peterson said.

“Some of the Republicans think we’re carrying the environmentalists’ water here,” he said. “They (Democrats) should be helping us. This project (MATL) originated at the governor’s request. …

State Sen. Alan Olson (R-Roundup): “If it was totally up to Republicans right now, it would not pass,” Olson said. “I don’t see any Democrat votes.”

Whether you agree with the eminent domain bill or not, one thing is clear: you can’t claim to support wind energy, and at the same time fail to support an eminent domain clarification bill.   So far, it appears the green groups and the green politicians would rather see the fruit die on the vine.

Before Montana’s Legislative Session began this year, Democratic politico Ray Tracy and I were on KTVQ-TV previewing the session.  I remarked that the Governor has a tremendous opportunity to create a lasting legacy for his time in the Governor’s mansion.  He could fulfill his long stated message of increasing natural resource development by working with a Republican controlled legislature to bring about the necessary reforms.  

It will be interesting to see what the Governor does with this bill.  He has so far said that it is up to the Republicans to pass the legislation, as legislative leaders appear to not have even one Democratic vote to gain passage of the eminent domain bill.   

It is obviously in the Governor’s interest to see the Montana Alberta Tie Line built- he can then campaign to the liberal base about the $1 billion in wind power generation he helped bring online.  He also stated that passage of an eminent domain bill as one of his top priorities.  Meanwhile, the GOP, if left to vote alone in support of the measure, is facing opposition from their agriculutural base, concerned over private property rights.  So it seems pretty clear: if the Governor wants the ability to bring the wind power and MATL online, he needs to command the votes from his side of the aisle.  Are fellow Dems bucking the Gov on eminent domain, or do they simply want the GOP to take the PR hit, while they claim credit for the wind power that would come online as a result?  Either way, if MATL fails- the wind power (and other generation sources) will fail to come online, and green energy backers will have only themselves to blame.       

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