the debate on energy
Anyone who has ever
operated a baler in a Missouri hay field knows how interconnected things
are today. Should one tiny piece in the intricate machinery of that
baler break, the entire day’s operation comes
to a screeching halt.
The same is true
for the nation’s energy supply.
Seemingly unrelated events can ripple into major problems that eventually
trickle down to us as consumers.
The recent hurricanes
are a case in point. When the storms hit the Gulf region oil refineries
shut down, shipping was curtailed and the resulting decline in supply
hit consumers hard in the wallet.
A few years ago an
event as simple as a tree rubbing against a transmission line started
a series of events that resulted in a major blackout that left parts
of the East Coast and upper Midwest in the dark.
Low river levels,
disruption of railroad service, terrorist activities, our nation’s
reliance on foreign oil and the rising price of natural gas are all potential
problems for energy suppliers. These real and potential events are what
prompted President Bush and Congress to push for passage of the 2005
energy bill. That measure moved energy to the top of the list of
issues our country must deal with.
In December, Gov.
Matt Blunt acknowledged the importance of energy to Missouri and pushed
its debate up a big notch when he appointed an Energy Task Force to
address the state’s
growing energy needs.
Energy is critical
to Missouri and our economy is vitally dependent on a low-cost supply
of energy to heat and cool homes, power industry, fuel vehicles for
our many commuters and to keep expenses down for the businesses and
farms. Even though Missouri’s
energy situation is better than other states, Gov. Blunt has shown
wisdom by being proactive to identify ways Missouri can continue
our competitive energy position.
By ratcheting up
the debate on energy the governor will identify issues and ensure potential
problems are addressed before they become a crisis. And the nine-member
panel, led by Public Service Commission Chairman Jeff Davis, is more
than up to the task at hand.
of the panel include Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, House Speaker Rod Jetton,
Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons, Rep. Rex Rector, Sen. David
Klindt, Public Counsel Lewis Mills, Department of Natural Resources
Director Doyle Childers and Agriculture Director Fred Ferrell.
has asked them to recommend ways to reduce our state’s dependence
on oil, provide help so low-income Missourians can pay their
heating bills and promote new opportunities for the use of renewable
This last task is
one of the most exciting. Legislation has already been introduced,
with the governor’s blessing, which
will mandate that all gas sold in Missouri contain at least 10
percent ethanol. This
will help boost Missouri’s farmers and
move our state closer to energy independence.
electric cooperatives applaud our governor’s initiative
in forming this task force. We believe he has the right
people looking at the problem at the right time. As the task force
meets, your electric cooperative will be well represented in the
energy debate and do whatever we can to help.
Hart is executive vice president of the Association
of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.