Hot Air Is Not Saving Our Way of Life
Letter To The Editor
February 22, 2023 | View PDF
A formation of losses is destroying our way of life. Hot air is not saving it.
Publicly noticed losses are closure of the MDU electric plant, closure of the Savage coal mine, and closure of the sugar factory.
Additional threat of loss fails to be noticed. Those include the part of the irrigation case about Fort Peck and irrigation from the Missouri River, the Montana federal court case to diminish 44% of the nation’s coal mining and restrict oil and gas in the Powder River Basin which includes Richland County, and the drive to close first 30% and then 50% of all land and water to any human use in the Biden Administration’s Half Earth policy.
The key to all these losses is faulty government. First, some government entity makes a bad decision, and then our representatives give us hot air instead of effective action about the error.
Electric plants are regulated by the Public Service Commissions. The irrigation case is a Montana federal court error. The sugar factory is about sugar marketing allocations by the Commodity Credit Corporation of the U. S. Department of Agriculture. The Powder River coal, oil, and gas issue is in the same Montana federal court before the same judge as the irrigation case. The Half Earth policy is instituted by a presidential Executive Order. The problem in each case is faulty government.
But along with that is the hot air of our representatives.
Take the electric plant closure as an example. We had four public meetings with MDU and PSC Commissioner Randy Pinocci in Sidney, and we packed the room and hallways of the PSC in Helena where there was a lot of talk and no action. Theoretically, generating electricity by wind at MDU’s Thunder Spirit Wind Farm in North Dakota was supposed to be more economical than coal. Yet MDU filed repeated applications for consumer rate increases to make up shortfalls for the Thunder Spirit Wind Farm. When a commenter told Pinocci nothing would change until there was opposition to the rate increases, Pinocci gave more hot air. He said he would have his staff contact the commenter to talk. For crying out loud, Pinocci holds a seat on the PSC and has a vote on the rate increases. We do not need hot air. We need his vote.
We don’t need to talk it to death. We need action aimed at the effective target.
With the sugar factor closing, the Governor appeared in Sidney. That is okay. He heard about the need to require American Crystal Sugar to clean up the plant. He heard about other local needs. He took notes. I believe he will follow through on those items. Those are necessary. But the missing item is, what will he and other representatives do about the sugar marketing allocations before the Commodity Credit Corporation?
It might be too late to do anything about sugar, but if it is not, the key will be the sugar marketing allocations, just as for the electric plant the key could have been the rate increases by the PSC. We need to get action in Montana and North Dakota from Governors Gianforte and Burgum, Senators Daines, Tester, Hoeven, and Cramer, and Representatives Rosendale, Zinke, and Armstrong on how the Commodity Credit Corporation lets American Crystal Sugar take marketing allocations from us.
Unless effective action is taken on the key that makes an issue work the way it does, nothing will change, and we will continue to suffer one loss after another.