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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Elli Schwiesow on South Dakota Energy

As the election draws near, Dakota Voice is featuring a series of articles from an interview with Independent South Dakota Legislative District 32 Senate candidate Elli Schwiesow.

Schwiesow, a life-long Republican, is running as an Independent against Republican Stan Adelstein and Democrat incumbent senator Tom Katus.

Schwiesow ran against incumbent senator Stan Adelstein in the primary in 2006 and defeated him. Rather than support his party's nominee, Adelstein then spent considerable money and energy helping Democrat Katus elected.

This year, when Adelstein announced he would be running against the man he supported in 2006, Schwiesow chose to wait until the general election to run as an Independent rather than spend large amount of money it would require to defeat the wealthy Adelstein.

With Schwiesow running as an Independent, her views on the issues are worth investigating. So far, we have examined her views on taxes, Second Amendment rights, and universal preschool. This week we look at energy policy.

"The Elk Point refinery proposal is a gift to South Dakota," Schwiesow told me. "One of the reasons we often hear for the high cost of fuel in South Dakota is transportation costs."

Schwiesow said she doesn't believe environmental concerns will prove a major obstacle for the proposed refinery at Elk Point, South Dakota. Hyperion, she says, has stated they want to build a "green" refinery that is as clean as possible, and she believes any ground water concerns will be thoroughly investigated and addressed before any development begins.

Schwiesow believes in an "all the above" approach to solving the country's and South Dakota's energy needs. She believes we should pursue all feasible sources of energy.

"Wind farms are a great idea and I understand that there are investors willing to foot the expense to establish these farms," said Schwiesow. "But I think those investors would want to be assured that the infrastructure, the power grid, can handle the capacity generated."

She acknowledges that there will likely be a role for the South Dakota legislature to play in making wind farms in South Dakota a reality. Schwiesow said South Dakota Public Utilities Commissioner Gary Hanson has stated the state's power grid needs to be improved before we can make the most of wind energy in South Dakota.

"To get wind farms off the ground, the legislature may need to look at some subsidies to get things off the ground, said Schwiesow. "But there is a lot of support for wind energy in the state. Some homes being built now are actually being constructed with windmills to help offset normal electrical usage. A recent poll found that 51% of people believed the government should support wind energy, which was the highest support for any alternative energy source."

Next time, Schwiesow talks about Native American issues.


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