This week, the GAIN Coalition hosted a webinar with keynote speaker Representative Kelly Armstrong (At Large-North Dakota) as well as panelists Brigham McCown, Patrice Douglas, and Ret. Major General Spider Marks. The panel of experts focused on the importance of domestic energy independence, in terms of our national security and combatting volatile energy costs, as well solutions for the problems plaguing the industry currently.
Rep. Kelly Armstrong, member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, began the keynote address by mentioning that the committee would be marking up a package of 15 energy bills on Thursday, though “few if any will be bipartisan” unfortunately. Reflecting on North Dakota’s role in the larger U.S. economy, Rep. Armstrong notes that the state produces a lot of resources that it does not necessarily consume. Similarly, North Dakota’s close relationship with Canada means that cross-border permitting reform is a big issue near the top of the Representative’s priorities, though he notes that the initial bill is not a “Keystone XL bill.”
Rep. Armstrong illustrates the prevailing issue with American energy policy in one sentence: “There are four or five other cross border permitting projects that are on hold because, when you have a ten-year project, two presidential elections in between it and a politicized permitting process, it’s pretty hard to raise capital.” Coming from North Dakota, Rep. Armstrong understands the importance of an all-of-the-above energy strategy, as there are wind farms, ethanol plants, oil patches and a planned biodiesel plant all within twenty miles of his hometown of Dickinson.
At the same time, Rep. Armstrong notes “we have to be talking about baseload power,” providing Germany and Europe as recent examples of the reality of an over expedited transition to renewables. Although he is a proponent for energy technologies such as wind and solar, Armstrong states, “Slow down. Don’t let policy outpace technology.”
The GAIN Coalition thanks Rep. Kelly Armstrong for sitting down with us and providing commonsense solutions to some of the issues we face as a nation. Advocating for an all-of-the-above energy approach while emphasizing that fossil fuels will continue to play a significant role in our lives is an example of lawmakers on Capitol Hill working to fix our energy security. Of those solutions, permitting reform should be at the top of their priorities.