Attacks on Wind Energy from ND Politicians Continue

At the beginning of March, Senators Kevin Cramer and John Hoeven pushed for the repeal of the wind production tax credit (PTC). The move is the latest example of ND politicians saying they’re for “all of the above” energy policies while actively pursuing the opposite. Why is it wind energy is always in their sights?

The PTC was extended for another year at the end of 2019. President Trump signed the bill into law mid-December. Two months and a hand-full of days later ND’s Senators are trying to reverse course. What are their motives?

Much like the attempt by ND State Senators in 2017, the motives appear to be punch down at wind development thinking it will help boost the coal industry. Current Congressman Kelly Armstrong was a part of that attempt to ban wind development for two years in ND. That same year, Congressman Kevin Cramer declared wind farms as a “serious threat” to the coal industry. Is wind energy the only threat to the coal industry?

If the intent is to alleviate pressure on coal, then a person should wonder why the focus is solely on wind. Do politicians not want to acknowledge the competition of natural gas? Instead, the approach is the opposite. For example, Cramer and Hoeven invited the Energy Secretary to attend the oil and gas conference, and then visit coal facilities.

The potential loss of jobs in the coal industry is something to take seriously. Hundreds of North Dakotans have proudly done the work to make sure the heat stays on in the cold ND winters. I empathize with our neighbors who work in the industry. We should all internalize “what comes next” as they undoubtedly have had those difficult conversations and thoughts. Public efforts to answer that question are welcome. But must the answer come at the expense of other development?

Why move against something successful for development, the environment, and landowners? It isn’t as though there aren’t policy incentives and subsidies crafted for other energy sources. People campaign on “all of the above” because we have them all right here in ND. Does it really come down to wind being the easiest to pick on politically?

Tyler Axness
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