Baucus: Montana Can Lead Energy Policy that Puts America Back in Control
Senator Responds to Presidents Plan for Energy Security, Says Montana Poised to Lead to Way to Energy Independence
Posted: Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Posted: Wednesday, March 30, 2011
(Washington, D.C.) - Montana's Senior Senator Max Baucus said Montana is poised to lead the way toward energy independence after President Obama announced a new strategy for energy security today. Baucus, who brought U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu to Montana for his 2010 Economic Development Summit, said we must invest in all options to boost energy independence. He urged approval of the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline and passage of legislation like his Freedom Fuels bill to power the military with fuel from Montana camelina.
"Montana's got wind, coal, oil and natural gas, hydropower, and biomass fuels like camelina, and Montana innovators are putting our vast resources to good use strengthening our energy future," Baucus said. "With gas prices on the rise and increasing instability in the Middle East, we've got to explore every option that supports American energy independence and good-paying jobs. We're supporting the TransCanada pipeline to get oil from Canada and create Montana jobs. Today the President acknowledged the need to get more oil from friendly countries like Canada, and again I'm calling on the State Department to act and expedite the Keystone permit so that project can get underway. The President also highlighted projects by the Navy to power their fighter jets with biofules like Montana-grown camelina - just another reminder why we need to pass our Freedom Fuels bill to support the military's efforts, enhance our security and support Montana jobs."
Baucus has repeatedly pressured the State Department to finalize a permit for TransCanada to create its Keystone XL pipeline that would run through Montana and allow the U.S. to get more oil from Canada. The pipeline will be a significant economic driver in Montana, creating thousands of new jobs during construction, and with local project spending expected to be over $400 million. Baucus sent a letter to Secretary to State Hillary Clinton in September of last year and again in March 2011.
In January, Baucus reintroduced his Freedom Fuels bill along with Senator John Tester to grant the Department of Defense the authority to contract for renewable fuel produced in the United States for up to 20 years. The Department currently has authority to contract with energy suppliers only up to five years, and allowing the longer-term contracts for American-made renewable fuels is expected to boost demand for alternative fuels derived from home grown crops, such as camelina, and reduce the military's, and the country's, dependence on foreign oil.
Baucus also successfully secured the extension of the 1603 grant program last year to provide renewable energy companies with money up front to cover 30 percent of the costs of renewable power facilities, like the Glacier wind farm near Shelby. Industry experts predict that extending the 1603 grant program will result in 45,000 new American jobs in 2011 in the wind and solar industries alone, and many more in geothermal and biomass.
Baucus was instrumental in bringing some of the country's foremost energy experts, including Energy Secretary Chu, to his jobs summit in Butte this past September to meet with Montana energy leaders and explore new ways to capture and develop the state's vast energy resources, from wind to coal to oil and gas to biomass.
Read the text of the President's speech on energy security HERE.
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