Travis Kavulla, former National Review editor and Great Falls native, begins campaign for Public Service Commission, vowing energy development and advocacy
"This is not a job to retire into. Joining the PSC, a highly technical regulatory body, is sort of like going back to college to get an economics degree. It isn’t easy, and it isn’t for everyone," said Kavulla, 25, a fourth-generation Montanan and Harvard graduate who has worked previously as a journalist and analyst. He gave his announcement speech at the Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner of the Cascade County Republican Central Committee on Feb. 27.
"Others in this race have been politicians for decades. But the Public Service Commission calls for a fresh mind, an independent mind. I have no baggage tying me to the industry which, as a PSC commissioner, I will have to regulate, and my top priority will be to protect the taxpayer and ratepayer.”
“As well, I pledge that I will do everything I can to promote energy development and carve out a future in Montana for those young people who want to stay, but cannot find jobs.”
“Montana’s economy will always be linked to its natural resources. Montana has enough coal to last our nation a millennium and a supply of wind which is virtually limitless. Our natural-gas reserves are greatly underdeveloped.”
"Wind and fossil fuels are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they need one another. Wind is unreliable and it needs to be firmed by another source, usually natural gas. I am for developing any and all of Montana's natural resources. My only criterion is that a project be practical, and the most practical project in my book is that which gets the lowest-cost power to consumers.”
“In addition to the lowest-cost-possible power for Montanans, we must become an energy exporter. Since everyone needs electricity, and since West Coast states are incapable of generating enough for their needs, energy development will bolster Montana’s economy in good times and bad. I am dedicated to putting in place a transmission network that protects Montana consumers even while allowing Montana to become a large energy exporter.”
Kavulla said that Montana’s leaders had failed to stand up to the federal government. “At the moment, we have a Department of Interior which cares more about a sage grouse than a Montanan. We deserve an advocate who will not roll over for out-of-state radicals, but who will instead be willing and able to point out the absurdity of federal policy, and work to resolve it.”
"Many Montanans get their electricity from coal-fired plants. Their rates will skyrocket if cap-and-trade or any other form of carbon taxation is adopted. Whatever one thinks of global warming, it is obvious that this policy would tie one hand behind our backs and put our nation and our state at a competitive disadvantage. We must be pragmatic, and this is not a reasonable policy at all."
Kavulla has been involved in the Great Falls City Commission inquiry into Electric City Power and the Southern Montana Electric Co-op (SME), and developed many of the questions which the city commission posed to the consulting firm Burns & McDonnell about the issue. "We're going to get to the bottom of this," Kavulla said. "Taxpayers and co-op members have subsidized big businesses’ energy bills to the tune of millions of dollars. A commissioner needs to be willing to have oversight over a developer who treats co-ops’ and taxpayers’ dollars as a slush fund. I am all for development, but not when it is done for the benefit of a few, at taxpayer expense, in extraordinary secrecy."
Kavulla is a fourth-generation Montanan whose great-grandfather came to the state to mine coal in Sand Coulee. His father was a teacher in Highwood, and Kavulla went to school there and in Great Falls. He was a U.S. Senate page for Conrad Burns, a member of Boys State and Boys Nation, and a two-time Class AA debate champion.
While a student at Harvard, Kavulla majored in history and was listed by U.S. News and World Report as one of the nation’s best student columnists. After graduating with high honors, he was recruited to become the youngest editor on the staff of National Review, the conservative magazine founded by William F. Buckley. His work has appeared in a broad range of media, from the Wall Street Journal to Fox News to Catholic World Report.
District #1 of the PSC spans 19 counties in central, eastern, and northern Montana. Kavulla said he is making plans to appear throughout the district. Kavulla welcomes the public to call his cell phone 788-3419 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss energy or any other matter. Kavulla says he will continue to write on state and local energy issues on the blog http://www.electriccityweblog.com/ throughout the campaign so constituents can know what’s on his mind.