North Dakota Democrats Were For Oil Before They Were Against It


North Dakota Democrats seem awfully conflicted about oil.

On one hand, they’re quick to point out all the negative impacts of the Bakken oil boom. Case in point, this tweet sent out from the official state party account blaming a murder on the oil patch:

They’ve also been aiming attacks at North Dakota’s top oil regulator Lynn Helms, accusing him of being too friendly to oil industry interests, and when NDGOP Chairman Robert Harms planted his foot squarely in his mouth by calling for more regulations to slow down oil production in the state, Democrats cheered him.

But then, on the other hand, the only Democrat to hold an office elected on the statewide ballot – the top elected Democrat in the state – not only co-sponsors but actively promotes legislation to speed up oil permitting in the state:

President Barack Obama signed legislation expediting the permitting process for hydraulic fracturing on federal lands in the Bakken Shale basin in western North Dakota. The legislation sailed through the House and Senate with only one dissenting vote. …

“For far too long, the permitting process has been delayed because of a lack of federal resources and coordination in western North Dakota. It has led to excessive waits for drilling permits that unnecessarily slow down projects while also putting the brakes on jobs that would come from those projects,” said the law’s coauthor, U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), in a press statement. “Working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle, we were able to get this bill through both the Senate and the House so it can soon be signed into law. We must continue to make common-sense fixes like this to help North Dakota reach its full energy potential.”

It’s more than a little incongruous to have Democrats simultaneously bemoaning the social and ecological impact of the oil boom, saying the boom should be slowed down for the good of the state, while their top elected official joins Republicans to pass a law to expedite approval of oil permits.

Which is it, Democrats? You can’t have it both ways.