North Dakota Senator John Hoeven has re-introduced the Empower States Act in this Congress, which would give states more control over regulating the energy industry. Senator Hoeven was kind enough to let me ask him a few questions about the ESA and what it could mean for North Dakota.
I asked the Senator if the ESA was intended to protect North Dakota from situations like the regional haze standoff with the EPA the state went through recently. The Clean Air Act allows states to regulate air quality under federal guidelines. Recently the EPA attempted to take that authority from North Dakota, despite the state meeting every single federal air quality standard.
Senator Hoeven said that was an “excellent” comparison, and noted that the goal of the ESA is to protect states from one-size-fits-all federal regulations.
He noted, specifically, that oil and gas development can vary greatly from state to state because of factors like geology. The Marcellus natural gas fields in Pennsylvania are very different than the Bakken oil shale formation here in North Dakota. Hoeven believes it is better for the states to take the lead on those issues than the federal government.