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Also Absent from Daugaard’s Agenda: Renewable Energy

Glaringly absent from Governor Dennis Daugaard's State of the State Address yesterday was any mention of the teacher shortage or Medicaid expansion. Dakota Rural Action's recharged legislative blog notes another notable gap in the Governor's priorities—energy policy:

Another topic that was absent in the speech was any reference to energy, more explicitly renewable energy. Though energy prices in SD are generally lower than national averages, our energy spending per capita ranks in the top ten. Energy consumption is eighth highest in the nation. According to the “2013 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard” published by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), South Dakota is tied for 47th with Mississippi and Alaska in energy efficiency with a score of eight out of 50 [Meghan Thoreau, "Supermajorities, State of the State, and What Goes Unsaid," Dakota Rural Action, 2015.01.14].

I recognize that even the best politician can only do so much. Governor Daugaard will have to expend some political capital to pass his proposed two-cent-per-year increase in the motor fuel tax. But I return to the critique I offered last month in South Dakota Magazine following the Governor's blasé budget address: if I had a 70% mandate from the public, supermajorities in both houses of my Legislature, and no plans to run for reëlection, I would govern my keester off. I'd rally the public and my loyal legislative minions to solve every major problem we could get our hands on. I'd build a legacy of lasting policy initiatives to invest in South Dakota's long-term well-being.

Rebuilding the state's road system would be one key part of that plan. So would ending two generations of national embarrassment for having the lowest-paid teachers. So would expanding Medicaid to insure 48,000 South Dakotans and bring huge federal stimulus. So would investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy production to save government, business, and residents money and add a whole new industry to our GDP.


  1. Frank James 2015.01.14

    Could it be that the Governor and the Republican majority really don't think there are any problems to address in the state other than roads? I think it's clear there is no vision for the future that looks any different than were we are now.

  2. MC 2015.01.14

    When it comes to energy I submit to ‘All of the above’ approach.
    1. Drill, Baby, Drill. There is oil and gas out there, let’s go get it. This can be done in a reasonable manner that for the most part doesn’t destroy the environment.
    2. Reduce. We need to find ways to reduce what we use, new technologies, new practices and may be new thought processes
    3. Research new sources.
    a. Wind
    b. Solar
    c. Geo thermal
    d. Treadmills
    e. Bio fuels
    f. ???
    There is no one sure fire answer, everything has to work together

  3. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.14

    MC, I agree we can't go cold turkey on fossil fuels, so we need a multi-pronged energy policy. But how about as a general rule we try to use less of what we have finite quantities of (oi, coal) and more of what we have practically infinite amounts of (sunshine, wind)? Wouldn't it be a lot more fun to shout "Panel, baby, panel! or "Mill, baby Mill!" knowing we'll never run out?

  4. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.14

    As Jerry says, mine the sky instead of digging the ground from under our own feet. And as Frank wishes, show some vision instead of just doing the same old thing that certain corporations are spending a lot of money to ensure we do.

  5. Douglas Wiken 2015.01.15

    Two Bush wars would have paid for complete conversion of US energy to wind and solar. We would not be subsidizing countries which fund terrorism against us.

  6. Frank James 2015.01.16

    The problem I have with deep investments in "Drill, Baby, Drill" (Keystone XL, Dakota Access) and with a lack of vision for our energy future is they lock us into the status quo. If we (society and investors) invest in facilities with a 50 plus year lifespan now, then in 50 years we will be locked into that fossil fuel reality.
    This is why I don't believe in the all of the above approach to our energy future.

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