If you’re a family making less than $50,000 annually in South Dakota, you likely spend double the national average on energy every year.  It’s one of the largest monthly expenses for many, so if we have the opportunity to drive those costs down, we ought to take it.

When former President Obama was first running for office, he outlined an energy agenda that, as he said, would “necessarily skyrocket” electricity rates.  Over the course of the next eight years, his administration implemented provisions that made affordable energy more and more difficult to access.  His boldest move promised to increase costs by as much as $17 billion nationwide and put a quarter-million people out of work annually, according to some estimates.  In South Dakota, analysts believed the plan would force electricity prices to rise 30 percent on average and 36 percent during peak times.

In addition to being costly, many questioned whether President Obama’s regulatory actions were within the Executive Branch’s authority.  As a result, the Supreme Court temporarily blocked the administration’s proposal and Congress passed legislation to stop it, although President Obama chose to veto that effort.

I believe our energy challenges can be solved, but the answer is innovation, not regulation.  I’ve been very encouraged by the Trump administration’s actions on this front.  In late-March, President Trump signed new Executive Orders to roll back many of the Obama administration’s overreaching energy regulations and I was honored to join Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke hours later as he signed Secretarial Orders reflecting that same agenda.  Their actions help clear a path so market-driven ideas can lead the way forward.

By prioritizing innovation, I’m optimistic we’ll see lower costs, a revved up economy that supports good jobs and higher wages, and a decrease in our reliance on foreign energy from volatile regions of the globe.  I’m also hopeful that by allowing innovation to lead, we’ll be able to strike a balance between energy production and environmental protection in a way that doesn’t cripple the economy.

There is almost no profession that values the sustainability and integrity of the land than a farmer or rancher.  Our livelihoods depend on it. During planting season when I was a kid, I remember climbing into the tractor to take over for my dad and almost always finding a tiny, purple prairie pasque inside.  My dad loved that flower and told me countless times how special it was, as it seemed to grow best on native grasslands.  It’s an image I don’t forget.

American ingenuity can address even the toughest challenges, but I don’t believe the government is the best facilitator for that innovation.  Instead, we need to give folks the freedom to pursue smarter technologies and finally drive down energy costs for South Dakota families.

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