Breaking news out of Bismarck this morning regarding the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. By a vote of 4-3, the committee has recommended a “DO PASS” on SB 2314 after amendment. The amendment, offered by Senator Dwight Cook of Mandan, would place a two-year moratorium on wind energy development. That is right, no new wind energy development in North Dakota for two years if the majority on the committee gets its way.
The bill as originally introduced was basically dead on arrival. Energy providers came in to testify it was unworkable and would potentially make proprietary information public. Rather than defeating the bill, Senator Cook “hog-housed” the bill with an amendment. A “hog-house” is the term used when the entire bill is completely re-written. This maneuver is sometimes used when legislators want to sneak something by the public or for other very political motives like changing the bill’s original intent. The amendment passed 4-3 with Senators Cook, Armstrong, Unruh, and Schaible voting in favor and Kruen, Oban, and Roers voting against.
Apparently to those Senators, we are moving too fast with wind energy in our state. Really? Do you remember earlier during the height of our oil boom, when western North Dakota was struggling to keep up, but the Industrial Commission pushed permit after permit of new oil rigs? Do you recall what happened to anyone who merely suggested we slow down the permitting process to allow our communities to catch up with the influx? They were verbally chastised by opponents and the oil industry itself and made out to be “tree-huggers.”
The amendment by Cook and new bill adopted by the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee is not merely suggesting a slow down in wind development; it is demanding by law a direct stop. The new language can be read below. This should leave no doubt in your mind who actually runs the State of North Dakota.
We will have more on this story as details come forward.