The key to Senator Heidi Heitkamp’s political success in North Dakota is her posturing as a moderate. And the policy area where she does the most posturing is on the topic of energy.
And yet, the presidential candidates she supports – not to mention her own actions, indirectly – keep undermining North Dakota’s energy interests.
For instance President Barack Obama – who Heitkamp has said she voted for and who she supported as a candidate at the Democrat national convention in 2008 – proposed a $10 per-barrel tax on oil that would, at present production levels, amount to a $4.2 billion annual tax on North Dakota producers.
Obama has also stymied the Keystone XL pipeline for years, a project important for North Dakota which Heitkamp campaigned on in 2012. Hillary Clinton, whom Heitkamp has endorsed for president in the 2016 cycle, has said she would continue to roadblock that pipeline.
Clinton, also the beneficiary of a $5,000 contribution from Heitkamp’s political action committee, has also said she would block oil and coal development on federal lands.
And now, over the weekend, Clinton said she’d basically ban fracking. Here’s what she said in response to the question, “Do you support fracking.”
“I don’t support it when any locality or any state is against it, number one. I don’t support it when the release of methane or contamination of water is present. I don’t support it, number three, unless we can require that anybody who fracks has to tell us exactly what chemicals they are using,” Clinton offered. “By the time we get through all of my conditions, I do not think there will be many places in America where fracking will continue to take place.”
Video here. The emphasis above is mine.
Whenever I bring up this disparity between Senator Heitkamp’s positions and those of the presidential candidates she supporters her supporters tell me that I’m all wet. That Senator Heitkamp doesn’t have to agree with every single policy position held by those she endorses.
That’s right, but this is a pretty important area of policy for North Dakota. In fact, I would argue that Heitkamp doesn’t win election in 2012 without her largely siding with Republicans on energy issues like Keystone, fracking, and oil/coal development.
So how can Heitkamp turn around and endorse a president she’d have to fight in those important policy areas?
Remember, she doesn’t have to endorse anyone.