Tuesday, June 01, 2010

MN-02 : John Kline’s (and Minnesota’s) Missed Opportunity

The explosion that killed eleven workers at the British Petroleum-leased Transocean Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana has opened our eyes … to missed opportunities.

“Drill here, Drill now” may be part of the solution to America’s energy needs, but risks are now more clearly seen. That said, it is estimated that by the time that the well is capped, America will have lost the equivalent of what it consumes in 3 hours.

Our future is still the same as it was in 2005, when John Kline (R-MN-02) so proudly suggested that the Energy Policy Act of 2005 was the solution … as it will take “unprecedented steps to promote greater energy conservation and efficiency and help lower energy prices for consumers.” Specifically, he mentioned it will “Provide incentives for clean coal technology and renewable energies such as biomass, wind, solar, and hydroelectricity.

Those were the days, when Mr. Kline actually worked to address the needs of the Second District … as illustrated by his other press releases in the 30-day time period highlighted by :
Kline Announces $1,782,330 for Dakota County Hydroelectric Facility,
Kline Announces $45,600 for New Prague water system predevelopment activities.,
Kline announced a federal grant of $70,821 for the Dakota County Drug Task Force,
Kline Announces a federal grant of $222,941 for the Lakeville Fire Department,
and Kline Announces a federal grant of $11,160 for the Cottage Grove Fire Department.
Of course, today, Mr. Kline speaks of the evil of “earmarks” as they were only available based on a member's seniority, committee assignment or party affiliation yet, somehow a newcomer like Mr. Kline was able to get a return on some of the Second District taxpayer’s monies.

Mr. Kline was right in 2005 when he acknowledged the need for greater energy conservation and efficiency and help lower energy prices for consumers but like his walking away from “earmarks”, Mr. Kline seems to have walked away from helping Minnesota developing jobs in “green industries.”

The Bush Administration set goals based on the 2005 legislation, including investing to
make solar power cost-competitive with conventional sources of electricity by 2015

And to make that happen, the Bush Administration awarded $168 Million in grants through the Solar America Initiative Funding … but Minnesota-based companies are lacking from the list.

Since then, Mr. Kline seems to have rejected solar and wind as he voted against various bills that would have helped Minnesota and the nation create jobs.

But that doesn’t mean that some of those Bush investments won’t start coming to the market. This year, solar shingles should available for new home construction. These are shingles – not the big solar panels of yesterday – and 250 shingles covering a 1,000 square feet of roof will generate 3.5 kilowatts of energy. That's renewable energy ... that's efficiency ... that's lower cost ... that's a step toward energy independence.

The concern is that even as these new products come on line, Minnesota will be left out in the cold with Mr. Kline standing in Washington.

The Second District needs someone with passion for the potential of renewable energy. Mr. Kline gave it lip service and has walked away.

Conversely, DFL-endorsed candidate, Dan Powers speaks of energy independence as “a goal that everyone can see. They can grab hold of it and work on it. ” Powers is an advocate for energy independence for both environmental and economic reasons. Part of the reason Powers says "we can't wait" to implement technologies which will lead towards energy independence, is that "we have so little control over our own economy... [and] our economy cannot increase without reliable and cheap energy. "

Being a contractor, Dan Powers understands that “solar shingles” maybe part of our homes futures, but that for older homes energy efficiencies can be obtained with more insulation and better windows … these types of programs were key components of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (aka the Obama stimulus) … which Mr. Kline opposed.
The cost for solar shingles may be an increase of $5,000 on a typical home … and some tax incentives may be necessary … but will Mr. Kline once again oppose it just as he did with the Obama stimulus ?

Mr. Kline has had too many missed opportunities … it’s time to give Dan Powers an opportunity.

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