Heitkamp’s Words On Energy Policy Don’t Add Up


I’ve written previously about the North Dakota coal industry holding a fundraiser for Heidi Heitkamp. Some coal industry folks have told me that they resent the support for Heitkamp, who if elected would give Democrats (traditionally enemies of coal energy) a bigger majority in Washington DC, and feel it has more to do with her ties to Basin Electric than any real support within the state’s industry itself.

Well the fundraiser in question, sponsored by the Lignite Energy Council, happened. You can read a summary of it on the Basin Electric website.

Here’s a video clip of her address to attendees at the fundraiser:

Heitkamp mouths a lot of words about ending gridlock and “sitting down in a room” and “creating a policy” on energy, but if you’re looking for specifics you aren’t going to get it. Which is interesting. Heitkamp is in a tenuous position on energy policy.

She can pander all she wants, but the truth is that her political party is for greater federal control of energy policy. Her political party is for hamstringing traditional fossil fuels and promoting with mandates and subsidies expensive, unproven and unreliable “green” energies. Heitkamp has said that she’ll vote for President Obama’s re-election, just as she voted for his election in 2008, despite his having promoted the bankruptcy of the coal industry.

Heitkamp, a former EPA attorney herself, makes no mention of the fact that North Dakota has had to fend off attempts by the Obama administration’s EPA to take over regulation of regional haze in North Dakota despite the state having some of the cleanest air in the country.

Even Heitkamp’s calls for a national energy policy, which she has stated more directly at other times and places than in the video above, speaks to a preference for more federal control of energy policy and less local control.

Such a move would not bode well for coal and oil, which are central to North Dakota’s economic well being.

So why would the coal industry support Heitkamp? In the posting linked above, Basin Electric CEO Andrew Seri is quoted as saying that Heitkamp “successfully ‘carved out’ an exemption for North Dakota power plants from the costly externality laws of Minnesota imposed by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.” He added, “While serving on the North Dakota Industrial Commission as Attorney General, Heidi Heitkamp also was the architect of the Partners for Affordable Energy image advertising and grassroots campaign on behalf of coal-based electricity.”

It seems that Heitkamp is favored not because she would promote open, fair and competitive energy markets in general but because she’s been a good crony for specific industry interests in the past.

That hardly seems like a compelling case.

Rob Port

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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