A week or two ago I read a letter, in open forum, from a man who is running for office, asking why more people weren’t running for office and trying to serve their country and their fellow man. I agree with what he had to say, but I would like to answer his question,
Politics in this country have become so distasteful that most people, who would be inspired to run, are not willing to risk their reputation and their peace of mind to get involved. Regardless of your good intentions, you become guilty by association the minute you run for office. Until these elected officials we do have, do more to clean up the way they do business; good people who are proven leaders are going to say no thanks. They are going to say I will get involved when I can run on my good name and don’t have to buy that seat. I will run when I can champion legislation for the masses and not the minorities. I will run when I can disagree with parts of my parties platform and still get the nod or when I can run without party endorsement and not have both of them gang up on me. I will run when we can get back to the principles this country was formed under and the power of the government lies in the elected officials and not outsiders trying to influence my vote.
These are a few of the problems legislators should work on and then maybe — just maybe — people will get involved. Government made it this way and government is the only one who can fix it. I hope that answered your question.
Clean nuclear power
Euphoria over new U.S. oil production is soaring, as North Dakota replaces Alaska as our number two oil producing state. Visions of our energy independence, proclaimed by presidents since Richard Nixon, dance before us. The reality is that while North Dakota’s 570,000 barrels/day is a lot, it is only 3 percent of our daily oil consumption.
Conservation and increased production have reduced our oil imports to less than half our demand from two thirds a few years ago. That trend is continuing, and we should soon be able to meet our needs from the Western Hemisphere, especially from the huge reserves in the Alberta oil sands. Approving the Keystone XL pipeline will support our independence from Middle East supplies.
The other major energy trend is the rapid reduction in coal’s share of electric power fuel. From 50 percent five years ago, coal supplied 42 percent in 2011, and it is now below 40 percent in the first months of 2012. A rise in natural gas use from 20 percent to more than 25 percent at our electric utilities is making up the difference, with help from wind which has risen from 1 percent to about 3 percent of electric energy supply.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing that utilities cannot emit more than 1,000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt hour produced. Modern natural gas plants already meet this standard. Coal plants produce nearly twice that amount, and there is still no effective way to segregate and bury that CO2 from coal plant flue gas. Emissions of pollutants like sulfur and mercury from coal plants can be controlled at high expense. This expense isn’t economic at many older coal plants, and they are being retired for cleaner natural gas. Longer term, nuclear plants are still an answer, as they emit only water vapor.