Over the past few years, Bluestem has reported that the Coalition for a Secure Energy Future is a marketing campaign authorized and paid by the North Dakota Industrial Commission, a state government agency.
According to the November 17, 2015 Meeting Minutes for the Lignite Research Council (a North Dakota state agency that reports to the Industrial Commission), the commission has authorized a total of $3,600,000 ($600,000 annually) for the effort to provide relation relations for lignite coal (page 3). The funds come from a tax on lignite that the state of North Dakota gets on each ton of coal mined.
According to the minutes:
Fine said that the purpose of the project is to improve the overall public image of coal-based electricity, build a support base on behalf of coal-based electricity in order to prevent or mitigate public policies adverse to the use of coal and to promote coal use as a low-cost, efficient and environmentally compatible energy source for the region. Through the Coalition for a Secure Energy Future provide multiple avenues for a diverse group of supporters to continue supporting coal-based electricity and political candidates [emphasis added] who support coal-based electricity.
Tactics which will be used include: paid media; earned media; website; media relations; grassroots communications; conducting studies and public opinion pools, hosting face-to-face meetings and working with other supporters to provide for a large, unified voice.
Of course, that's so not lobbying or supporting political candidates because the Coalition for A Secure Energy Future isn't registered an association hiring lobbyists or a registered political committee.
Jason Bohrer, who leads the parent group to which the state of North Dakota has funneled the $3,600,000, the Lignite Energy Council, does chair a registered political action committee in Minnesota, All of the Above EnergyPAC (fka MN CoalPAC), but North Dakota's lignite industry has found it doesn't need to waste money on contributions to candidates. Good conduct certificates will do.
A number of readers forwarded us this email about an "educational" dog-and-pony show that will be presented to members of electrical co-ops across the state. Somehow, despite this bunch's touting of an "all-of-the-above" approach to energy production, we somehow doubt this bunch will be promoting clean, renewable sources of energy and energy conservation itself.
Here's bulk of the email:
The Coalition for a Secure Energy Future, a project of the Lignite Energy Council, is hosting a series of educational sessions on Minnesota energy starting in September and October.
The Coalition promotes an all of the above energy strategy and is dedicated to enhancing, preserving, and protecting our diverse set of energy resources, including coal-based electricity, to ensure a continued affordable and reliable energy supply for families and businesses in Minnesota.
Each Energy 101 session will be conducted by Joel Johnson and Co-Chairs Loren Solberg and Mike Beard. Sessions will last usually 45 minutes.
• September 19 - Minnesota Valley Electric Co-Op – Jordan - 10:00 AM
125 Minnesota Valley Electric Dr, Jordan, MN 55352
• September 22 - Meeker Cooperative Association - Litchfield –11:00 AM
1725 US-12, Litchfield, MN 55355
• September 23 – Kandiyohi Power Co-Op – Spicer – 11:00 AM
8605 47th St NE Spicer, MN 56288
• September 28 - Steel/Waseca Electric Cooperative - Owatonna – 10:00 AM
2411 W Bridge St, Owatonna, MN 55060
• September 29 – East Central Energy – Braham – 11:00 AM
412 Main Ave N, Braham, MN 55006
• October 3 – Lake Region Electric Cooperative – Pelican Rapids – 1:00 PM
1401 S Broadway, Pelican Rapids, MN 56572
• October 10 – Lyon-Lincoln Electric Cooperative – Tyler – 1:00 PM
205 US-14, Tyler, MN 56178
• October 11 – BENCO Electric Cooperative – Mankato 11:00 AM
20946 549th Ave, Mankato, MN 56001
• October 13 - Beltrami Electric Cooperative - Bemidji – 1:00 PM
4111 Technology DR NW, Bemidji, MN 56601
We will cover topics such as how Minnesota produces and imports electricity, how electricity is transmitted, what impact regulations have on jobs and cost, and how Minnesota can continue to have affordable and reliable energy.
As you know, energy and electricity are very complex topics, so it’s vital to be able to talk about how electricity makes it from one of the many energy generating facilities to a home or business. . . .
Bluestem sure hopes that some of our readers will attend Energy 101--perhaps recording video or audio--and report back. Perhaps the Coalition for a Secure Energy Future might even consider livestreaming these sessions, since the public relation campaign's backers certainly have dug up enough of North Dakota's tax dollars to pay for such complete transparency.
For more information, check out our earlier coverage of the Coalition for a Secure Energy Future:
Photo: Drawn from the 2014 June Coal Creek Tour, a carefree family vacation to the North Dakota coal fields offered by Steele-Waseca Cooperative Electric (kids participate free) offered a chance to let children romp through coal piles. Just remember: coal mine owners had to pay kids to do this in the early 20th century.
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