After North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan, a Democrat, announced last week that he would not run for re-election, pundits immediately began to speculate not only about the impact his leaving would have on pending energy and climate legislation, but also on the outgoing Senator's future and whether there is any more public service in it.
In a radio interview with liberal radio host Ed Schultz (subscription required), Dorgan said he was looking forward to writing another book or two and to continue working on several fronts, including energy.
While Senator Dorgan didn't give many details about what kind of work he would be doing in the energy field, one could assume that he is certainly entertaining offers from the fossil-fuel industry: his home state of North Dakota is home to the largest carbon capture and sequestration project in North America and Dorgan has been an ardent supporter of "clean coal" investment and research.
Dorgan has also said in the days after his announcement that he would continue to oppose cap and trade in the Senate, but that doesn't necessarily discourage Climate Progress' Joe Romm considers the implications of Dorgan's departure on Congress' ability to pass an energy and climate bill in 2010. Romm dug up the following quotes from Dorgan:
"I’m willing to cap carbon to address the threat to our environment. But it has to be done right. I will support a plan that establishes workable caps, invests in technology to decarbonize fossil fuels and sends the majority of the revenue raised to consumers to offset increases in the price of electricity resulting from the caps."
"It’s clear we are going to have to use energy differently in the future to protect our planet. And to do that I will support a plan that puts achievable caps on CO2 emissions – if it is done the right way."
"Energy is an important part of our lives. We need to work to decarbonize the use of coal so that we can use our most abundant fossil energy resource. We have to maximize the development of renewable energy. Green, renewable energy protects our environment and it also makes us less dependent on foreign oil (70 percent of our oil comes from other countries)."
"North Dakota and the nation have a lot at stake in this debate. We are a major energy-producing state, with our ability to produce large quantities of oil and our large deposits of coal, which is our country’s most abundant form of energy. We have the greatest wind energy potential of any state, and we have the ability to produce a large quantity of biofuels."
Regardless of where Dorgan ends up in 2011, one can pretty safely assume that there will be a real fight for the open seat in the center-right state of North Dakota. And even though the Senator has been a staunch opponent of cap-and-trade, it's more than a little likely that his replacement could be even more staunchly opposed to it.
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