Tax reform is lowering energy bills across the nation

Tax reform has had transformative effect on businesses across the country. Regardless of size or structure, the reduced tax rates, added simplicity, and increased flexibility has had a net benefit for Main Street job creators. Skeptics need look no further than the ever-growing list of companies that reinvesting and offering bonuses to employees to see that the Republican tax plan is achieving the desired effect. Listed amongst the businesses that are giving back on the heels of tax reform are electrical utilities. At present, electrical utilities in 41 states, and more than 82.3 million customers nationwide have reduced rates on electricity. Consumers across the country are reaping the energy savings benefits of tax reform. The billions in tax savings to utility customers is providing significant infusions into the economy. More importantly, the tax cuts have had a cascading effect, empowering utility companies to track their tax savings and investigate ways to pass those on to customers. This week, state regulators in Ohio and Minnesota are petitioning utilities in their states to find savings, and in early March, Georgia Power and New Jersey Natural Gas announced rate reductions and refunds that counted in the billions of dollars in savings for ratepayers.  “Reduced tax costs create an opportunity for BGE customers to benefit from further decreases in their total energy bills,” said Calvin G. Butler Jr, chief executive officer of BGE in a January 2018 Baltimore Gas & Electric press release. For family businesses, lower electricity rates are great news, particularly for the inventory-rich, cash-poor enterprises that operate on slim margins. For these businesses, every dollar counts, and high, or volatile energy costs can be detrimental to prosperity. Conversely, lower, predictable energy costs result in savings that can be reinvested in the business. This means that business owners can hire more employees, invest in new equipment, and offer staff higher wages. A partial list of companies reducing energy prices is below:

  1. Alaska Electric Light and Power (Juneau, Alaska)
  2. Ameren Illinois (Chicago, Illinois)
  3. Arizona Public Service (Phoenix, Arizona)
  4. AVANGRID (Orange, Connecticut)
  5. Avista Corporation (Spokane, Washington)
  6. Baltimore Gas & Electric (Baltimore, Maryland)
  7. Black Hills Energy (Rapid City, South Dakota)
  8. Cleco Corporation. (Pineville, Louisiana)
  9. Consumers Energy (Jackson, Michigan)
  10. Dominion Energy (Utah)
  11. DTE Energy (Detroit, Michigan)
  12. Duke Energy Florida (St. Petersburg, Florida)
  13. El Paso Electric Company  (El Paso, Texas)
  14. Enstar Natural Gas Company (Anchorage, Alaska)
  15. Entergy Arkansas (Little Rock, Arkansas)
  16. Entergy Louisiana, LLC (New Orleans, Louisiana)
  17. Entergy Mississippi (Jackson, Mississippi)
  18. Eversource Energy (Boston, Massachusetts)
  19. Georgia Power (Atlanta, Georgia)
  20. Green Mountain Power (Colchester, Vermont)
  21. Gulf Power Company (Pensacola, Florida)
  22. Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric, Hawai’I Electric Light (Honolulu, Hawaii)
  23. ITC Holdings Corporation (Novi, Michigan)
  24. Kansas City Power and Light (Kansas City, Missouri)
  25. Louisville Gas and Electric Company and Kentucky Utilities Company  (Louisville, Kentucky)
  26. National Grid (Waltham, Massachusetts)
  27. National Grid Rhode Island (Providence, Rhode Island)
  28. New Jersey Natural Gas (Wall, New Jersey)
  29. Northern Indiana Public Service Company (Merrillville, Indiana)
  30. NorthWestern Energy (Butte, Montana)
  31. Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma)
  32. Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma)
  33. Oncor Electric Delivery (Dallas, Texas)
  34. Pacific Power (Portland, Oregon)
  35. Pepco (Washington, DC)
  36. Public Service Company of New Mexico (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
  37. Rocky Mountain Power (Portland, Oregon)
  38. Spire Inc. (St. Louis, Missouri)
  39. The United Illuminating Company (New Haven, Connecticut)
  40. Tucson Electric Power Company (Tucson, Arizona)
  41. Upper Peninsula Power Company (Marquette, Michigan)
  42. Utility Services of Alaska (Fairbanks, Alaska)
  43. Vermont Gas Systems, Inc. (South Burlington, Vermont)
  44. WeStar Energy (Topeka, Kansas)

View full list of companies giving benefits here: https://www.atr.org/list

Read More

Offshore Energy Exploration Could Be The Next Bakken Oil Boom

Despite the United States being mired in a national recession, the state of North Dakota enjoyed the nation’s lowest unemployment rate and a billion-dollar budget surplus in 2012. North Dakota’s prosperity was achieved because the state was allowed to utilize new energy extraction technology to recover readily available deposits of oil and natural gas.  In 2018, America may be on the cusp of the next energy boom, and this one has the potential to benefit business owners and individuals nationwide. On January 4th, the Trump administration announced a draft proposal to offer large swaths of offshore terrain comprising nearly 90% of the United States’ outer continental shelf to commercial oil and gas drillers. The move will be a reversal of President Obama’s 2016 decision to indefinitely block oil and natural gas exploration from the unleased offshore locations surrounding the continental United States and Alaska. In what will potentially be the largest lease sale ever, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said the draft proposal would offer leases to nearly 1 billion acres to drilling companies between 2019 and 2024. Currently, the Bureau of Offshore Energy Management (BOEM) permits offshore drilling in federal waters off the coasts of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and parts of Alaska and California. BOEM currently manages about 2,900 active OCS leases, covering almost 15.3 million acres – the vast majority in the Gulf of Mexico. Fully implemented, Trump’s offshore exploration proposal would give energy companies access to leases to more than a billion offshore acres.

While offshore drilling projects would generate billions of dollars in revenue for state and local governments, the economic benefits extend to far beyond enriching the federal government and drilling companies. Offshore exploration saves money for taxpayers, supports hundreds of thousands of jobs, reinforces our national security, and reduces the cost of energy for both individuals and businesses nationwide. Each year, small businesses collectively spend more than $60 billion on energy. Ten percent of small-business owners claim that energy is their single greatest cost – greater than wages, salaries, materials, and supplies. According to NFIB’s Energy Consumption poll, energy costs are one of the top three expenses for 35% of small businesses. Increased access to offshore leases will undoubtedly reduce energy costs by increasing supplies, driving down energy costs for America’s job creators. However, the economic benefits of offshore energy exploration extend beyond cost savings. According to the American Petroleum Institute, opening our coasts to offshore drilling would lead to over 450 billion in new private sector spending, creating over 840,000 new jobs across the country.

Offshore exploration is also good for the government, with projections generating more than $200 billion in cumulative revenue. It is projected that opening unleased waters to offshore drilling will contribute more than $70 billion per year to the U.S. economy. North Dakota’s fracking boom, offers a pertinent illustration of what happens to communities when energy companies can invest. Invariably, private investment flows into communities, and local economies begin to thrive. Skeptics need look no farther than the massive economic boom that came with Bakken energy exploration, which plummeted North Dakota to 2.4% unemployment. The state now ranks sixth in best states for infrastructure. Fracking investment has helped North Dakota’s small businesses by creating opportunities across the state. Furthermore, fracking has made energy bills in North Dakota some of the lowest in the nation. Gas bills plummeted $13 billion per year from 2007 to 2013 because of increased fracking, which adds up to $200 per year for gas-consuming households. Moreover, all types of energy consumers, including commercial, industrial, and electric power consumers, saw economic gains totaling $74 billion per year from increased fracking.

Similarly, expanding drilling to America’s costs will bolster our economic and national security and provide states vital revenue and jobs that are needed to meet the increasing costs of state budgets. Many states, particularly those on the Atlantic Coast, lack dedicated infrastructure to support drilling operations, which provides an opportunity for businesses across the country to deliver the human and material substructure needed to support exploration efforts. FBAE believes that energy production is not only critical to our economic and national security but also keeps the lights on and energy costs low for main street job creators. It’s time for a pragmatic approach to our energy policy, and opening America’s offshore regions to energy exploration would be a bold step towards lasting economic prosperity for states governments, businesses, and consumers.

Read More

Jerry Brown – The Grinch That Wants to Steal Christmas

California Governor Jerry Brown is pushing California’s already high cost of gasoline to the highest in the continental United States, just in time for the holiday driving season. Five months after deriding President Trump for pulling the United States our of the Paris Climate Agreement, Governor Brown is waging a personal war on consumers with a gas tax increase. As of November 1st, Californians saw an increase of 12 cents per gallon on gasoline and 20 cents per gallon of diesel, making California the state with the second highest in fuel taxes behind Pennsylvania. The tax hike comes as the state transitions to “winter-blended” gasoline. Winter blends have a higher Reid Vapor Pressure or “RVP” – a measure of how quickly a fuel evaporates at a given temperature. The higher RVP of winter blended gasoline ensures that vehicles can start and run efficiently in colder weather. Generally, winter blended fuels are less expensive, averaging about twelve cents cheaper than summer blends. Governor Brown’s fuel tax hike eliminates the price disparity between winter blends and summer blends, effectively nullifying the price break consumers have enjoyed over the holiday season.

Gov. Brown’s gas tax hike is a big bah-humbug for small businesses in California. In addition to costing California taxpayers $5 billion per year, increased fuel costs put a pinch on job creators. This means business owners will hire fewer new employees, cut benefits, and reduce year end bonuses for workers. Consumers can expect to pay more for the goods and services they currently enjoy. As one southern California flower shop owner explained, “We do about 100 deliveries a week and we go all throughout L.A. County,” he said. “I’m going to have to reduce my delivery area and also let some of my employees go. This is absolutely unbelievable. I know we have more roads and cars on the streets, but all these years the money that was collected for gas taxes, car taxes and all of the other taxes has gone somewhere else.”  The tax increase is designed to coincide with a $52 billion infrastructure plan signed into law earlier this year. Sadly, better roads and bridges are a Christmas present that Californians will probably never see. The state has a history of diverting funds earmarked for “infrastructure” into other projects that have little or no infrastructure relevance. In 2015, California politicians dipped into transportation funds to pay debt service on general obligation bonds, and in 2006, California Democrats diverted $20 billion in transportation bonds into the general fund to free up revenue for other projects.

Fortunately, some policymakers in the state are fighting back. State Assemblyman Travis Allen is leading an initiative to repeal this latest gas tax hike which requires 365,880 signatures to be gathered from registered voters. In an attempt to mislead voters, Governor Brown and Attorney General Xavier Becerra amended the summary ballot language in a misleading way in an attempt to confuse voters about the intent of the initiative.  In response, Assemblyman Allen filed a lawsuit to correct the description. Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy M. Frawley tentatively ruled that the state-written title and summary of an initiative to repeal the recent gas-tax increases were misleading and should be rewritten. Currently, Allen’s initiative has garnered less than 25 percent of the necessary signatures while another repeal proposal from Republican attorney Thomas Hiltachk met that threshold Dec. 13, according to the Secretary of State’s office.

Family Businesses for Affordable Energy supports Assemblyman Allen’s efforts and acknowledges that an increase to fuel costs will disproportionately harm small, family owned and operated businesses across the state. Sacramento has come to be known as a black hole for taxpayer dollars, and history will repeat itself with another tax increase. Repealing this the gas tax will be a welcomed Christmas gift in December of 2018.

 

Read More

Blog: Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale Tax

Last month, the Pennsylvania state Senate voted in favor of a massive tax increase as part of a plan to close the state’s $2 billion budget gap. The 26-24 vote will result in a tax hike of 571.5 million across the state, affecting over half of households in the form of increased heating bills. While the tax hike will be a great revenue raiser for the government, small businesses will face an uphill battle in the form of fewer jobs, and the suppression of the state’s newest and most vibrant revenue stream. The vast majority of the tax hike is targeted at the state’s booming natural gas industry. The nation’s largest natural gas field, the Marcellus Shale, is located in Pennsylvania. The new severance tax will raise an estimated $100 million each year with an effective tax rate for 2017-18 of 2 cents per thousand cubic feet of natural gas. The state’s natural gas industry has been a target of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf throughout his tenure as Governor. In February, he proposed a 6.5 percent tax on the value of the production. In 2015, he had proposed a 5 percent production tax, plus 4.7 cents per thousand cubic feet. Despite the fact that Governor Wolf has been forced to settle for roughly half of his desired tax rate, there are still significant problems with targeting the natural gas industry. The severance tax is far from the steady revenue source needed to reduce the deficit. The natural gas industry is cyclical with periods of robust growth and decline. No one knows how long the state can depend on revenue from the Marcellus Shale developers. Supporters of the tax have pointed to the fact that Texas also levies a similar tariff on their natural gas. However, as Elizabeth Stelle from the Commonwealth Foundation points out,

If Texas is really the model to follow, then any severance tax proposal should also include eliminating the corporate income tax, eliminating the personal income tax and streamlining Pennsylvania’s regulatory regime. Sadly, that’s not the type of severance tax the governor and lawmakers want. Their idea is to raise the special tax charged to drillers—now called an “impact fee”—when the industry is already struggling with year-long permit delays for permits that do not even exist across the border in Ohio, ongoing litigation to build critical infrastructure, and the highest effective corporate tax rate in America.”

With Pennsylvanians already paying increased taxes and regulatory costs, it’s unfair to levy an additional burden on energy producers. Onerous government-imposed tariffs exist outside the free market, and not only distort the cost of labor, but tangible goods as well. Instead of clobbering hard-working Pennsylvanians with yet another tax increase, we encourage Governor Wolf to leverage the Marcellus Shale for greater investment that will create jobs.

Read More

US set to reduce carbon output without need for government mandate

Recent news has highlighted the United States pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, however few articles have mentioned the US’s already impressive record of reducing carbon emissions without a government mandate.  According to a new study by Morgan Stanley, the United States may meet the outlined minimums of the Paris Climate Agreement despite no longer being a party to the accord. In their recent analysis, the brokerage firm found that technology is steadily driving down the price of these energy sources to the point that market functions will eventually make renewable energy an equitable possibility for large-scale power.

“We project that by 2020, renewables will be the cheapest form of new-power generation across the globe,” Morgan Stanley analysts said in a report published last Thursday. According to the report, the US is to exceed the Paris commitment of a 26-28 percent reduction in its 2005-level carbon emissions in the next three years. The report points out that better understanding of wind conditions and redesigned wind-turbine blades have made wind power an increasingly viable power option.

Many in the environmentalist community will point to the cost reduction as an argument in favor of maintaining the United States position in the Paris Climate Agreement, and for continued subsidization of green projects. However, we believe that if true, these statistics render the continued government subsidization of green projects completely superfluous. The goal of green energy projects should be to achieve competitiveness based on the merits of the technology, not financial support as an “approved power source” from the government.

The United States’ exit from the climate treaty has been treated as an environmental calamity by supporters of renewable energy, pointing to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s steadfast support for the treaty as a roadmap for the US to follow. Interestingly, the math doesn’t favor that argument. The U.S. actually reduced its overall greenhouse emissions at a faster rate than Germany over the last decade. American emissions fell by 9.9 percent between 2005 and 2015, as compared with Germany’s 8.8 percent, even though the U.S. was not a signatory to any carbon emissions treaty during that period.

FBAE believes that it is critical for the United States to be judicious in the extent to which it tethers itself to the climate goals of other nations. Climate treaties place an undue burden on the American economy, and in the case of reducing carbon emission is proving to be unnecessary.

Read More

Blog: President Trump Kicks Off “Energy Week”

President Trump has designated the last week of June as “Energy Week”.  Policy weeks have become a trademark of the Trump presidency, and for family businesses, the consequences of this Energy Week could be welcomed by many who are plagued with volatile energy costs. The common thread of Energy Week will be a renewed reliance on traditional energy sources, and dominance of U.S.-based fuels in the export market. The reversal of Obama-era energy policy was a key tenant of the President’s campaign, and based on his Energy Week schedule, Trump aims to make good on that promise. Now, Trump is looking forward, forging actionable plans to shape America’s energy future. In his first 150 days, the president has used his executive power to lift regulatory barriers to domestic energy production and has empowered the Interior Department to begin revisions of Obama-era fracking regulations.

The President has been outspoken on reducing regulations, providing greater access for energy extraction purposes, and encouraging energy production to help lower the cost of our energy production needs. While specifics on the President’s Energy Week plans are scarce, it is known that he will discuss oil and natural gas exports with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he hosts here today at the White House. On Tuesday, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt will appear before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee where he will deliberate on the President’s spending blueprint. Energy Secretary Rick Perry will likely offer a preview of some of the President’s priorities when he speaks Tuesday with analysts and executives at the U.S. Energy Information Administration conference in Washington – agenda here. On Wednesday, President Trump will meet with Governors and Native American tribal leaders along with Energy Secretary Rick Perry. This meeting will precede a Thursday panel in the House Natural Resources Committee that will explore energy industry access to federal lands – link here. Finally, the President Trump will host and event at the Energy Department on Thursday where he will focus on how the sale of U.S. natural gas, oil, and coal helps strengthen America’s influence globally.

While President Trump is expected to place his policy focus on traditional energy sources, he is expected to describe openings for other energy exports, including U.S. technology that harnesses power from the wind and sun, and a new generation of advanced and modular nuclear reactors. Many in the industry have argued that the licensing rules for new reactors are cumbersome and convoluted, discouraging investment in an inexpensive and environmentally friendly energy source. There are hopes that President Trump will eliminate these hurdles.

In addition to making it easier to produce traditional forms of energy, the Bureau of Land Management is currently finalizing environmental reviews to allow leasing of federal land for the purpose of installing solar energy collectors in Nevada. The Dry Lake region on Nevada could be the first federal land installation of solar power generation in the country.

Streamlining the energy permitting process and reducing regulations will drive down costs, which is welcomed news for many family-owned and operated businesses with tight margins. FBAE is hopeful that the changes highlighted during Energy Week will lift the burden that stifles job creation and holds back our economic recovery.

Read More

Blog: Energy Infrastructure in the Trump Presidency

While large-scale energy projects seem inconsequential to local family businesses, the unpredictability of a volatile energy market can financially squeeze these vital contributors to our economy. Yesterday, President Trump spoke to a crowd at the Rivertown Marina in Cincinnati, Ohio about his long-awaited infrastructure plan, providing a broad outline of his priorities. In addition to reducing permitting time for projects from 10 years to 2 years and “slashing regulations to speed up the decision-making process,” Trump has made overtures to enhance infrastructure in the energy sector.  While specifics have remained scarce, the president has made clear his commitment to eliminating burdensome rules hindering oil and gas exploration.

The Rivertown comments come after Trump’s nominations of Robert Powelson, and Neil Chatterjee to FERC in May. Progress on several natural gas pipeline projects was stalled by the lack of a quorum, causing a number of energy groups to prod the President to fill the positions at FERC. Now, the commission has $50 billion in energy projects to address and is working through proposals to reform wholesale power market structures. Another large component of President Trump’s $1 Trillion plan is the completion of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, which he cited as examples of his administration’s commitment to strengthen America’s energy infrastructure. “Nobody thought any politician would have the guts to approve that final leg,” Trump said. The White House statement indicated that Trump will dedicate $200 billion in his budget this year to energy infrastructure. The completion of these energy pipeline projects will bring welcome relief to small, family-owned businesses.

Improving America’s energy infrastructure can help to reduce energy costs for family businesses by making it easier for energy resources to come to market. Transporting crude oil via pipeline reduces the cost of transportation by 50-60 percent compared to rail transport. In addition to energy transportation infrastructure, the development of more energy efficient electrical grids will also reduce the cost of energy for family businesses across the country. As we begin to overhaul and expand our energy infrastructure it is important that we do so in a way that helps reduce energy costs prepares us for the future ways we will use energy.

Read More

Energy companies look to tech to make oil production easier and cheaper

By 

When your business is subject to the whims of boom-and-bust cycles the way the oil industry is, making money with less effort is very appealing. With that in mind, oil companies are using technology to cut costs while still turning a profit in the downturn.

“This is about reshaping the industry,” said Muqsit Ashraf, energy strategy consultant with the firm Accenture. He points out tech advances can keep workers safe.

But technology changes will also affect the workforce itself.

“The profile of the employees will change,” he said. “There would be a shift in terms of head count on the field to head count that might be sitting in remote operations centers making decisions.”

Technology is replacing energy workers. For example, oilfield services company Schlumberger has estimated one of its newer, more automated drilling rigs could cut the number of work hours needed to finish a well by more than 30 percent. But in the long term, the effect on jobs is hard to predict, according to Rice University’s Mark Agerton.

“It really depends on whether the technology is going to lower the cost of extraction and make us extract more oil and gas, and hire more people to do that, or if the technology is going to allow us to replace people with machines,” he said.

A more digitized industry also means companies will need more educated, higher-skilled workers to operate new technologies.

These advances are helping drillers in Texas make money even with low oil prices. But another boom could slow the innovation. If prices shoot back up, companies might decide to revert back to more time-tested ways of moving oil.

Read More

Strength in Oil and Gas Sector Bolsters Industrial Economy, Drives GDP Growth

By Thomas J. Duesterberg, Senior Fellow

The initial report on 1st-quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was weak, but showed encouraging growth in the oil and gas production sector. Capital investment, which has been historically weak since the Great Recession, bounced back to a 9.4% uptick, led by expansion in oil and gas drilling and related equipment. The Federal Reserve Boardearlier reported preliminary 1st-quarter industrial production involving drilling in the oil patch was up 159% over 2016 levels. This accounts for nearly 0.5% of the reported 0.7% GDP growth in the 1st quarter. This expansion bodes well for sustainable growth in the future, as the strength in this sector has outsized impacts on the rest of the economy.

The recent rise in crude oil prices and stability in natural gas prices are behind this new- found growth, but the animal spirits unleashed by the election of President Trump have played an equally large role. Expectations of a freer hand in production, transportation, use and exports of oil and gas also loom large in the revival. It is probably not an idle coincidence that the recent trough in mining sector jobs (which includes oil and gas production) was October 2016.

Since then, over 44,000 new jobs have been created in this sector. Exports of crude oil and refined products are now over 5 million barrels per day (b/d), and natural gas exports, boosted by low-cost production due to the shale technology revolution, have led to a trade surplus of over 2 billion cubic feet per day. Crude oil exports alone in the first two months of this year are more than three times the value of oil exports in the same period in 2016. The technology revolution continues to forge ahead and gas exports will grow as new liquified natural gas (LNG) export facilities come online in the next few years.

Growing strength in the U. S. oil and gas sector is an important factor in stimulating related industries in manufacturing, construction and transportation. The steel, pumps, engines, trucks, drilling bits, earth moving equipment, and related materials used in exploration and processing of oil and gas are largely made in the United States, and, presuming President Trumps executive orders and trade actions on steel, aluminum, transport pipelines and leasing for exploration are upheld, the benefits will be even larger.

In a study I co-authored in 2014, an econometric analysis based on a projection of maintaining a level of crude oil exports of 2 million barrels per day over a ten-year period starting in 2015 would have a strong impact on related industries. Domestic machinery production would be over 3% higher, construction and mining equipment would be 6% higher; over 200,000 construction jobs would be created at the peak of building out needed infrastructure, and overall capital spending would plateau at higher levels.

In the last six months, we have already seen the early impact of these trends in job growth and production in the oil and gas sector and in manufacturing. A related benefit is that increased production to help keep fuel prices low levels tends to boost consumption even further. It is also important to the domestic chemicals and plastics industry, which is the second largest producer and exporter in the U. S. manufacturing sector.

Oil and, more importantly, natural gas and gas liquids, are the main input into U. S. chemicals production, and prices are much lower than those in Europe and the Pacific industrial nations which must import most of their raw materials. Continued growth in the efficiency of oil and gas production, largely in shale producing regions, is allowing increased production while maintaining healthy profit margins.

These trends are likely to intensify as the new tax, regulatory and leasing policies of the new administration are implemented. New policies could stimulate even higher growth, exports and job creation. The 1st-quarter is only a preview of those benefits.

Read More

Pro-energy agenda saves families money

Pro-energy agenda saves families money

By Rep. Krisit Noem

If you’re a family making less than $50,000 annually in South Dakota, you likely spend double the national average on energy every year. It’s one of the largest monthly expenses for many, so if we have the opportunity to drive those costs down, we ought to take it.

When former President Obama was first running for office, he outlined an energy agenda that, as he said, would “necessarily skyrocket” electricity rates. Over the course of the next eight years, his administration implemented provisions that made affordable energy more and more difficult to access. His boldest move promised to increase costs by as much as $17 billion nationwide and put a quarter-million people out of work annually, according to some estimates.

In South Dakota, analysts believed the plan would force electricity prices to rise 30 percent on average and 36 percent during peak times.

In addition to being costly, many questioned whether President Obama’s regulatory actions were within the Executive Branch’s authority. As a result, the Supreme Court temporarily blocked the administration’s proposal and Congress passed legislation to stop it, although President Obama chose to veto that effort.

I believe our energy challenges can be solved, but the answer is innovation, not regulation. I’ve been very encouraged by the Trump administration’s actions on this front. In late-March, President Trump signed new Executive Orders to roll back many of the Obama administration’s overreaching energy regulations and I was honored to join Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke hours later as he signed Secretarial Orders reflecting that same agenda. Their actions help clear a path so market-driven ideas can lead the way forward.

By prioritizing innovation, I’m optimistic we’ll see lower costs, a revved up economy that supports good jobs and higher wages, and a decrease in our reliance on foreign energy from volatile regions of the globe. I’m also hopeful that by allowing innovation to lead, we’ll be able to strike a balance between energy production and environmental protection in a way that doesn’t cripple the economy.

There is almost no profession that values the sustainability and integrity of the land than a farmer or rancher. Our livelihoods depend on it. During planting season when I was a kid, I remember climbing into the tractor to take over for my dad and almost always finding a tiny, purple prairie pasque inside. My dad loved that flower and told me countless times how special it was, as it seemed to grow best on native grasslands. It’s an image I don’t forget.

American ingenuity can address even the toughest challenges, but I don’t believe the government is the best facilitator for that innovation. Instead, we need to give folks the freedom to pursue smarter technologies and finally drive down energy costs for South Dakota families.

http://www.argusleader.com/story/news/brandon/2017/04/11/pro-energy-agenda-saves-families-money/100160562/

Read More