Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette Visits North Dakota
On Tuesday I had the privilege of hosting my good friend Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette in Minot with Senator John Hoeven, Governor Doug Burgum, and Lieutenant Governor Brent Sanford. Under President Trump and Secretary Brouillette’s energy dominance agenda, America is safer, emissions are lower, and our producers are respected on the world stage.
Highlighting Energy’s Role in Maintaining the Nation’s Nuclear Deterrent
Our first stop was at Minot Air Force Base, where we highlighted the role the Energy Department plays in maintaining America's nuclear arsenal. Airmen at Minot carry the weight of the world on their shoulders, knowing - should they need to be activated - it could be the world's last moments.
The Energy Department does an excellent job of making sure nuclear deterrence is not an empty threat, with civilians working around the clock for the last 70 years to build, maintain, and dispose of our nuclear weapons.
Under President Trump and Secretary Brouillette, the Department is carrying out an important modernization effort, ensuring the safety, security, and reliability of the nation’s nuclear deterrent housed at strategic locations like Minot. I appreciate the Secretary coming to see this work firsthand.
As my colleagues and I were writing this year's National Defense Authorization Act, I led a bipartisan amendment to protect the Department of Energy’s role in maintaining our nuclear weapons and to ensure they remain under civilian control.
It made sense in 1947 when atomic energy was transferred from military to civilian control. It made sense in the 1970s when Presidents Ford and Carter reorganized the energy departments but kept civilian authority over nuclear weapons. And it made sense in 1985 when President Reagan's Blue Ribbon Task Force recommended funding responsibilities for the Energy Department's nuclear weapon activities should not be transferred to the Defense Department. Nothing has changed to make me think over 70 years of precedence should be changed now. The Energy Department's superb track record of managing our nuclear assets gave me confidence to fight on their behalf.
Meeting with North Dakota Coal and Oil Producers
In the afternoon, we convened two roundtables at the Grand Hotel with North Dakota’s reliable energy producers. We must be constantly seeking ways to keep this energy revolution moving forward, and on Tuesday coal and oil producers played a leading role in that effort, expressing concerns and offering ideas to an exceptional and attentive Energy Secretary.
Energy and Agriculture Roundtables with USDA Under Secretary
Senator Hoeven, Governor Burgum, and I participated in two roundtables on Wednesday with USDA Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Jim Hubbard, who oversees the Forest Service.
It is always a pleasure to join Trump Administration officials like Under Secretary Hubbard when they visit North Dakota to meet our constituents and hear firsthand about their exceptional work and capabilities. President Trump and Secretary Perdue have been working on improving the management of our nation's forests and grasslands, emphasizing how we can maximize our use of these God-given resources while conserving them for generations. I hope the Under Secretary was able to glean some insight from our energy and agricultural producers.
Stressing the Importance of Supporting Reliable Energy
On Friday I participated in a tour of the Project Tundra test well with Senator Hoeven and Representative Armstrong.
Project Tundra is an effort led by Minnkota Power Cooperative, along with the University of North Dakota's Energy and Environmental Research Center, to retrofit the Milton R. Young Station with carbon capture technology. Once completed, more than 90 percent of the CO2 emissions from the Young Station's Unit 2 generator would be captured and stored more than a mile underground. It has the potential to make North Dakota a world leader in the development of next-generation energy technologies.
Once again, North Dakota is leading the way. Through this carbon capture technology, Project Tundra is ground zero for the future of reliable energy production in this country. As Energy Secretary Brouillette outlined in Minot this week, reliable energy sources like coal keep the lights on when others cannot. They are an indispensable part of President Trump’s energy dominance agenda, and we are committed to supporting them and advancing tools like the 45Q tax credit to ensure projects like this keep moving forward.
Talking about the Latest on COVID-19 Relief Package Negotiations on CNBC
On Thursday I spoke to Becky Quick on CNBC's Squawk Box about the latest on negotiations over a COVID-19 relief package.
While Democrats seem to think they would benefit from not reaching a deal, we should put politics aside and deliver assistance to the American people
Requesting a Report on Obama-era EPA Methane, Oil, and Gas Regulatory Process
I joined a letter led by Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) to the U.S. Government Accountability Office requesting a report on United States Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) regulatory process under the Obama Administration for regulating methane emissions from oil and gas operations, with the intention of shining light on EPA's regulatory process. Small producers face higher regulatory burdens and these regulations disproportionately impact small producers compared with large producers.
Methane emissions account for approximately nine percent of the United States Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory. Oil and natural gas contributes less than one-third of these emissions. The Obama administration's EPA promulgated two New Source Performance Standards and one set of Control Techniques Guidelines that provided a federal framework for regulation of both methane and Volatile Organic Compounds emissions from these operations.
Transportation Proposes Pilot Program for Younger Commercial Drivers
The Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced its proposal for a new Under 21-Commerical Driver Pilot Program on Friday.
Young people in North Dakota are raised on hard work, ready and able to handle important responsibilities, accept whatever challenges life throws at them, and take advantage of good opportunities placed in front of them. They would be prime candidates for this pilot program, which would greatly help our producers. I hope it is successfully implemented and I urge North Dakotans to offer their input.
I signed onto bipartisan legislation this programs aligns with in May of 2019.
Urging FDA to Classify Abortion Pill as Hazard to Public Health
On Wednesday I joined a letter led by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn urging the FDA to exercise its authority to classify the abortion pill Mifeprex (or mifepristone) as an imminent hazard to the public health posing a significant threat of danger, a classification which would result in the removal of this pill from the market.
According to the FDA, the abortion pill has taken more than 3.7 million preborn lives, caused 24 maternal deaths, and resulted in at least 4,195 adverse maternal reactions including hemorrhage, excruciating abdominal pain, and severe life-threatening infections.
Expanding Aviation Workforce Training
On Wednesday I joined a bipartisan letter led by Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) to the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) urging them to fully implement two aviation workforce grant programs authorized in the 2018 FAA Reauthorization bill that invest in and expand the development of the next generation of aircraft pilots and maintenance technicians.
The grant program for pilot education will support the creation and delivery of curriculum designed to provide high school students with meaningful science, technology, engineering, math and aviation education. This program has the potential to grow our nation's pilot workforce by encouraging our nation's youth to become the next generation of commercial, general aviation, drone or military pilots. The grant program for aviation technicians will address the well-documented maintenance industry skills gap by encouraging and facilitating collaboration between schools, government, labor and industry to recruit and train the technical talent America's aerospace sector will require to keep the nation's aircraft operating safely and efficiently.
Grants for North Dakota
$32 Million to North Dakota Airports
The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration awarded twelve grants totaling $32,396,017 to North Dakota airports.
$1.5 Million to UND EERC
The U.S. Department of Energy Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage Research and Development Program awarded $1.5 million to the University of North Dakota's Energy and Environmental Research Center. The funds will be used to support the engineering design of a hybrid capture system to benefit Red Trail Energy's ethanol plant in Richardton.
$1.2 Million to Combat Unemployment Insurance Fraud
The U.S. Department of Labor awarded two grants totaling $1,215,000 to North Dakota. The funds will be used to combat fraud and recover improper payments in the Unemployment Insurance program, including those programs created under the CARES Act.
$541k in USDA Grants Throughout North Dakota
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Rural Development awarded 10 grants totaling $541,357 to rural North Dakota organizations and areas.
$118k for the Migrant Education Program
The U.S. Department of Education awarded $118,576 to North Dakota. The funds are a part of the Migrant Education Program, which assists migrant children who have their education interrupted.
In accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended guidelines, our state offices in Fargo, Bismarck, Minot, and Grand Forks are closed for public meetings and appointments. Staff members are still available by phone or email. For more information, visit cramer.senate.gov/COVID19.
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