Congressman Tom Emmer (MN-06) hosted a roundtable at the Becker Community Center Tuesday with over a dozen Minnesota leaders and energy producers to discuss H.R. 1, the Lower Energy Costs Act, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives late last week.
“The core tenets of H.R. 1 are simple: lower costs for Americans, remove the bureaucratic red tape holding our energy industry back, and restore America’s energy independence,” said Emmer.
The bill will increase domestic energy production, reform the permitting process for new energy projects, repeal the $6 billion natural gas tax and the $27 billion ‘green bank’ slush fund. The Lower Energy Costs Act will also boost domestic production of critical minerals like those mined in Minnesota’s Iron Range.
Those in attendance included Becker Mayor Tracy Bertram, Becker Council Member Rick Hendrickson, Becker Gity Administrator Greg Lerud, Big Lake Mayor Paul Knier and Sen. Andrew Mathews, amongst others. Emmer allowed for each individual to express their concerns, ask questions or offer suggestions on powering the bill forward.
Many of the greatest concerns were attributed to the lengthy permitting problems and regulatory rules that drag down schedules and delay production.
“We believe permitting reform is urgently needed to move forward with the ongoing energy transition while keeping the power grid operating reliably,” said Darrick Moe, President & CEO of the Minnesota Rural Electric Association.
Moe had said it typically takes around 10 years to get a transmission line constructed compared to just 3-4 years in other countries. Eight of those 10 years, Moe says, get clogged up in permitting and regulations.
“This bill takes tangible steps that will allow the market and innovations to flourish, driving down costs and moving us meaningfully to the clean energy future we are striving for,” said Kayla Christensen, Executive Director of Minnesota Conservative Energy Forum.
Others spoke of the mining litigation, fossil fuel debates and the concerns for home builders and farmers to access reliable electrical power to do their everyday tasks. Another guest expressed contempt at the regulations forcing builders to limit gas ranges in new construction of homes.
Isaac Orr, a Policy Fellow at Center of the American Experiment, spoke of the diverse nature of energy production saying, “Reliability is our biggest concern. When blackouts start happening, where will we be when we realize this is all a big mistake?”
Hendrickson noted that the expansion of solar farms is forcing the city to seek out and buy land around the city to protect the physical and organizational structures and facilities of the area and keep the city expandable in the future.
“Growth in our city is hindered by solar farms popping up everywhere,” he said.
Bertram and Lerud expressed their concerns for the fall of the tax base when Sherco begins decommissioning and how that fall will affect the residents of Becker.
Emmer concluded by saying everyone needs to use “common sense” and that projects like these shouldn’t take 10-20 years.
“Yes, we are all invested in protecting the environment but we need to use our common sense to advance projects and act in the best interests of all involved. We should respect the laws and manage the resources we have”
“Minnesotans have been shouldering the burden of anti-energy policies in the form of skyrocketing costs on home heating and other essentials. We must allow our producers—at home and across the country—to do what they do best and restore our energy independence.”