As Central Washington’s representative in Congress for 20 years, and as the former chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, which has jurisdiction over energy policy on federal lands, I have always believed in and supported an all-of-the-above energy plan for the United States. This includes hydroelectric power — which we are abundantly blessed with in the Northwest — as well as nuclear, wind, solar, coal, oil, natural gas and others.
Not every source of power generation is available for every region of our country. However, when you consider the population growth that our nation has experienced over the last several decades and the technological advances that have resulted in significantly more power usage within those growing populations, you begin to appreciate one fact: We cannot ignore baseload energy generation that is affordable and readily available when we flip the light switch, especially when the wind is not blowing or when the sun is not shining. Federal and state policies that promote energy development cannot afford to ignore this reality
As an example, our region is blessed with clean hydroelectric power. Yet state law fails to consider this hydroelectric power as a form of renewable energy under the Clean Energy Initiative (Initiative 937) that was adopted in 2006. Not recognizing water running downhill as a renewable energy source is not policy — it is politics. Not surprisingly, many of the folks who argue against hydroelectric power as renewable energy are champions of the “keep it in the ground” movement that opposes fossil-fuel energy and every other source that isn’t wind or solar.
Coal: leave it in the ground or burn it?
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is taking public comment on the federal government’s coal program from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., June 21 at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel at 1400 6th Ave.
It’s certainly easy to sit back and criticize the production of fossil fuels (such as coal) when you are not the least bit impacted by policies that limit the production of these energy sources. But the fact is, communities that rely on the benefits of this production are hugely impacted. The job losses in an industry that constantly experiences duplicative and excessive regulations result in a loss of tax revenue to these communities for necessary public services, such as schools, public safety, transportation and parks.
Thus, there is hypocrisy in the U.S. Department of the Interior holding a public hearing on the federal coal-leasing program on June 21 in downtown Seattle — a community far removed from the source of this energy production. Of course we need to seek views from all sides on such an important issue. But having this hearing so far from America’s coalfields is absurd.
An honest discussion of American energy policy would acknowledge that fossil fuels are essential to our economy, and that discussion would advocate that burning these fuels as efficiently as possible, as other countries are doing, would be an intricate part of that policy. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to have an honest discussion, let alone a responsible energy policy, without recognition of the fact that more than two-thirds of U.S. electricity generation comes from fossil fuels.
As a father and grandfather, I want to leave a legacy that respects the environment but doesn’t sacrifice all else for it. The air we breathe and the water we drink is significantly cleaner than it was 30 years ago, and it continues to improve considerably. We should be proud of that and build on it.
However, stacking the deck against a federal program that has generated more than $12 billion to state and federal treasuries over the past decade by having a public hearing in Seattle is nothing short of politics — bad politics.
Doc Hastings represented Washington’s 4th District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2015.
See the article here.
- On June 20, 2016