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The Montana Energy 2012 Conference, held earlier this month, wasn't without political interest. Montana Senator Max Baucus was on hand as well as Montana Congressman Denny Rehberg. Both lawmakers addressed conference-goers, encouraging home-grown energy security. Both men believe Montana plays a significant role in U.S. energy production, and encouraged responsible development of Montana's oil and gas reserves.
"The world's energy economy is a producer's market," Baucus said, emphasizing the opportunity Montana has to prosper through natural resource development.
"Recognizing that traditional fossil fuels are the backbone of the energy industry, it would be foolish to do anything to harm that opportunity," Rehberg said, addressing the group.
Among the top concerns in Washington D.C. is approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which stalled in January after the application for construction was rejected by President Barack Obama.
Obviously, the pipeline is a critical piece of oil industry infrastructure that will provide a necessary market link for North Dakota and Montana oil. Montana Senator Max Baucus, one of only 11 democrats in the Senate to support the pipeline, assured conference-goers that the pipeline will go through, despite political posturing.
"The fight's not over," he said. "Simply put, we will not take 'no' for an answer."
Rep. Rehberg has his sights set on upsetting Sen. Jon Tester in the upcoming November election to gain one of Montana's two Senate seats. He criticized the Senate for slowing reform that would benefit the energy industry. Rehberg said the House has passed 12 bills dealing with energy regulation, many of which would enhance states' control, but none have passed the Senate.
"We have a government that thinks that if they're not creating new regulations to control even more aspects of our economy, that they're not doing their jobs," Rehberg said. "And often these new regulations are conflicting and duplicative."
The EPA is the biggest player in energy industry regulation with 42,786 pages of regulations, more regulations than any other federal agency, said conference speaker William Kovacs, Senior Vice President, Environment, Technology, and Regulatory Affairs for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. And thousands of new regulations are being added to the books each year. All segments of the energy industry are targeted for increased control, and environmental groups are manipulating the process, Kovacs said.
"Every type of energy has all kinds of benefits for humanity, but they also have downsides," Kovacs said. "As a society we have to come to grips with how we're going to balance these things."
The Big Sky Business Journal
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