Zinke unveils energy plan, focuses on resource extraction

2014-07-30T16:30:00Z 2014-08-19T13:33:06Z Zinke unveils energy plan, focuses on resource extractionBy CHRIS CIOFFI ccioffi@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Republican U.S. House hopeful Ryan Zinke was in Billings on Wednesday presenting an energy policy he says will put Montanans to work building infrastructure for resource extraction.

The former state senator from Whitefish is running against Libertarian Mike Fellows and Democrat John Lewis in November for the seat formerly held by Steve Daines, who is running for U.S. Senate.

Lewis’ energy plan focuses more on renewable energy technology and lacks depth when it comes to exploiting resources like oil, gas and coal, Zinke said.

Any energy plan that doesn’t include coal, oil and gas is just wishful thinking, he told a small crowd gathered at the Billings Chamber of Commerce Office, 815 S. 27th St.

The U.S. and Montana Chambers of Commerce have both endorsed Zinke, according to his campaign.

As unrest continues to plague the Middle East and Eastern Europe, energy independence is more important than ever, he said.

“To me it’s personal,” said the father of a US Navy diver. “Children shouldn’t fight on foreign shores for oil that we have here.”

His plan calls for an expansion of West Coast ports, to bring more Montana coal to foreign markets, and to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline that would cut through Eastern Montana.

His plan also supports halting Environmental Protection Agency regulations that are pending congressional review. He fears the current EPA policies could put coal-powered facilities out of business.

While in college studying geology, Zinke said his professors warned him that oil resources would be completely depleted by 2010. “Well, God’s got a sense of humor, he gave us fracking.”

Zinke also talked about harnessing the natural gas being wasted in the Bakken because a collection system is not in place to get it to places like Europe where many countries are dependent on unreliable Russian sources.

“Bleeding or venting or flaring 3.5 million barrel equivalent every day in the the Bakken, because we can’t build infrastructure to capture natural gas, is wasteful,” he said.

While focusing heavily on a fossil fuels message, Zinke said he is not against the continued development of renewable sources such as wind, solar and hydroelectric.

“To me, it’s all of the above,” he said.

But, he does not support tax incentives for companies that develop renewable technologies, saying the technologies must compete in the marketplace with other energy sources.

“Government shouldn’t be picking winners and losers in the energy industry,” he said.

Kathy Weber, senior advisor and communications director for the John Lewis’ campaign, said Zinke’s message is contradictory and does not accurately portray Lewis’ message.

“John Lewis believes in building a Montana-focused, responsible energy future that includes all of Montana’s energy resources,” Weber said.

She said Zinke is trying to take away tax incentives from some energy producers but keep them for others.

“Zinke has supported the Ryan Budget plan, that preserves a whole host of tax incentives for oil and gas companies,” she said. “There’s a contradiction there.”

After reviewing Zinke’s proposal, Weber said she believed his proposal didn’t have Montanan’s best interests in mind, and just creates more division.

“Zinke’s plan is laced with partisan rhetoric that does nothing to solve problems or bring people together toward solutions,” she said. “That’s the Washington way, not the Montana way.”

Copyright 2015 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

More from the Gazette

Taxing and spending: How much money is coming in and how will it be spent

Taxing and spending: How much money is coming in and how will it be spent

11 hours ago Photos

Photos

Loading…

House committee advances income tax cut bills

January 23, 2015 6:15 pmLoading…
Plan would help small business pay for health insurance

Plan would help small business pay for health insurance

January 23, 2015 3:38 pmLoading…
Supporters rally as lawmakers weigh preschool plan

Supporters rally as lawmakers weigh preschool plan

January 23, 2015 1:23 pm Photos

Photos

Loading…
Lawmaker seeks to up penalty for abuse of pregnant women

Lawmaker seeks to up penalty for abuse of pregnant women

January 23, 2015 12:35 pmLoading…
Microbrewers, Tavern Association compromise on brewery, license bill

Microbrewers, Tavern Association compromise on brewery, license bill

January 23, 2015 9:55 amLoading…
Lawmaker wants to raise gas tax by 5 cents a gallon

Lawmaker wants to raise gas tax by 5 cents a gallon

January 22, 2015 7:30 pmLoading…

Senate OKs bill on how top political cop is picked

January 22, 2015 7:15 pmLoading…

Senate OKs bills to put electronics in privacy laws

January 22, 2015 6:45 pmLoading…
Restricted driver’s license bill turned down

Restricted driver’s license bill turned down

January 22, 2015 3:49 pmLoading…
Bill would close loophole in Montana media shield law

Bill would close loophole in Montana media shield law

January 22, 2015 11:54 amLoading…
Bill targets outdated immunization laws

Bill targets outdated immunization laws

January 22, 2015 10:11 amLoading…
Ohio governor talks about Medicaid expansion, federal budget

Ohio governor talks about Medicaid expansion, federal budget

January 21, 2015 8:45 pmLoading…
GOP bill: Hire outside vendor to check for welfare fraud

GOP bill: Hire outside vendor to check for welfare fraud

January 21, 2015 8:30 pmLoading…
Bill would end governor's power to appoint U.S. senators

Bill would end governor's power to appoint U.S. senators

January 21, 2015 4:33 pmLoading…
Restricted-use driver license bill advances

Restricted-use driver license bill advances

January 21, 2015 4:24 pmLoading…

Follow The Billings Gazette

#mtleg

Get weekly ads via e-mail

Deals & Offers

Featured Businesses