North Dakota’s new governor didn’t even get 24 hours into his new term before sending a message on the Dakota Access Pipeline.
“For months, the Obama administration has politically stalled a legally permitted project that had already been through an exhaustive review process and has twice been upheld by the federal courts,” Doug Burgum said in a video message released today. “As a result of the Obama administration’s refusal to uphold the rule of law on federally owned land, both our citizens and local and state law enforcement have been put in harm’s way. These actions are putting daily demands on the scarce resources of our state and local government.”
“To the brave men and women from across our state who are serving with such professionalism, dedication and restraint, I offer my deepest gratitude,” he continued. “I support the legal completion of this pipeline. Make no mistake, this infrastructure is good for our economy. And it’s the safest way to transport North Dakota products. Failure to finish it would send a chilling signal to those in any industry who wish invest in our state and play by the rules.”
Here’s the full video:
One criticism of outgoing Governor Jack Dalrymple’s handling of the protests around the pipeline is that he wasn’t outspoken enough. The protest organizers flooded the zone with their messaging against the pipeline, unfairly smearing North Dakota law enforcement, while very little was done to defend North Dakota’s position.
It’s clear Burgum is going to handle things differently. That’s good.
On an related note, holy cow is this guy still in campaign mode. “With a changing economy, massive revenue shortfall and ongoing protests, the challenges we face are as great as any in our state’s 127-year history,” Burgum says at the beginning of the video.
I realize that’s sound political strategy – you manufacture a crisis so you can solve a crisis – but let’s try to keep things in perspective.
North Dakota took a hit because commodity prices tanked, and the pipeline protest has made for harrowing months from late summer into winter, but c’mon. It’s not like this is the second coming of the dust bowl years, or even the farming crisis of the 1980’s, and the protests have dwindled down to a few hundred hard core zealots camping out while the tribe tries to make nice with President-elect Trump.
I don’t think Burgum keeping up a campaign trail level of messaging intensity is going to serve him well over the next four years, if that’s where he’s heading. Say what you want about Hoeven and Dalrymple, but their low-key approach to the issues generally served them pretty well.
Burgum needs to find the right balance between leading from the front and egregious political pageantry.