Friday, September 19, 2008

Energy for the Future…

The Argus Leader ran an article featuring all the candidates’ views on energy policy and the future of energy in the United States. I agree with author, Peter Harriman, in his statement about predicting the future of energy might be as elusive as predicting the next pattern in a kaleidoscope.

The article is fairly concise, but I would like to outline the major themes as noted by PUC Chairman Gary Hanson and Lisa Richardson, executive director of the South Dakota Corn Growers:
• No perfect solution to energy exists… and if we wait for the perfect solution nothing will get done.
• A balanced energy portfolio is the only way to combat energy issues
• Not everyone will support every solution
• Accelerating fossil fuel usage only hastens the day when supplies are exhausted

I have stated in previous articles that investment and research in renewable energy is the pathway we need to head down in order to mitigate an ‘unknowable’ future. We can’t wait for this problem to solve itself. We must utilize, as PUC Chairman Hanson suggested, a balanced approach, along with increased education and incentive for conservation.

Each area of the state has something to offer. East River has corn for ethanol, wind energy, and the possibility of a new oil refinery, the Missouri River corridor hosts abundant wind potential, as well as hydroelectric capacity, and West River has timber and grass for potential cellulosic reserves. Across the state solar energy can be utilized, as well as geothermal energy where applicable. Increased efforts in conservation across the board will ameliorate the stresses of energy generation.

Our northwestern counties are beginning to pump oil again now that it is economical. Will South Dakota be able to capitalize on increased oil drilling, much like our northern neighbors? That is an issue yet to be researched.

I hope we continue, as a state and as a nation, to look into a variety of possibilities. After all… we will never find the answers if we stop looking for them.

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