Here’s what we know for sure. This is an election year. There are some deep political divisions in this country, fueled mostly by Republican leaders who, more than three years after the 2008 election, are still in shock over the election of a black Democratic president and are continually frustrated by their party’s inability to come up with a white knight, a la Ronald Reagan, or even as marginally acceptable as George W. Bush or Warren G. Harding , to lead their party back to the White House.
Faced with the prospect of another presidential defeat, these Republican leaders have accepted a strategy of electing as many Republicans as possible to lesser offices, and are using anti-Barack Obama messages which they feel might resonate in states where polling numbers show the President is not doing well, hoping that tying Democratic candidates to an unpopular president will help them preserve seats they hold now and pick up new ones, especially U.S. Senators, Congressmen and Governors.
Enter John Hoeven and Jack Dalrymple.
Hoeven, by all accounts a moderate until he fell under the spell of Mitch McConnell just about exactly two years ago when McConnell flew into North Dakota and promised our then-Governor a spot on the Senate Appropriations Committee if we would send him to Our Nation’s Capital, is currying favor with the Republican leadership by running with the Keystone Pipeline issue. It makes perfectly good sense to him. We’re a big oil-producing state, we have lots of problems caused by the oil boom in the western part of our state, the pipeline runs kind of close to our state, and if the truth can be stretched far enough, he can connect North Dakota to that pipeline (figuratively, not literally) and so make the case that Obama’s reluctance to approve the full project is hurting his state.
Except that it isn’t.
Hoeven was quoted in the Bismarck Tribune last Friday saying that construction of the Keystone Pipeline “would take 500 trucks a day off of North Dakota roads.”
Except that there is absolutely no evidence that would happen.
To further his strategy of currying favor with Republican Leadership, Hoeven offered up his replacement as Governor back home in North Dakota, Jack Dalrymple, to make the Republican party’s weekly radio address a couple Saturdays ago, and promised them that Governor Dalrymple would also beat the drum on Keystone. And the Governor did.
In that radio address, broadcast to the nation, Governor Dalrymple’s first real “15 minutes of fame,” which should have installed a real sense of pride in all North Dakotans to have our state’s leader so chosen, Governor Dalrymple said “North Dakota oil producers were scheduled to feed the Keystone pipeline with 100,000 barrels of crude oil per day.”
Except that we weren’t.
See, through those two statements, by Senator Hoeven and Governor Dalrymple, Americans who know little about our state and even less about the Keystone pipeline, were led to believe that the delay in the pipeline was really hurting North Dakota.
Except that it isn’t.
The pipeline doesn’t come here, it goes through Montana, and the Senator knows that. To get enough oil into the pipeline to satisfy Gov. Dalrymple’s claim that the pipeline will take 100,000 barrels of North Dakota oil per day, it would take more trucks, not 500, or any other number, fewer, to get the oil to the Keystone onramp at Baker, Montana. Yes, there are proposals to run pipelines from North Dakota to Baker. They may or may not be built. First, there would have to be commitments for sufficient barrels of North Dakota oil to make the pipeline economically feasible—commitments by both North Dakota oil producers to put it in the pipeline, and commitments by TransCanada, the company who wants to build the Keystone pipeline, to take it out and put it in their pipeline.
Except there aren’t.
Because, you see, what Governor Dalrymple is saying is not true. There is no agreement by TransCanada to take 100,000 barrels of North Dakota oil.
Here’s what there is.
There is an agreement between Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, negotiated in 2010, and announced jointly by Gov. Schweitzer and TransCanada officials on September 13, 2010, at a press conference in Billings, Montana, to “construct onramps and offramps for the receipt and delivery of oil from Montana producers at points on the Keystone pipeline that had been announced by TransCanada.”
That, of course, was the Montana Governor’s take on the agreement, or at least his public proclamation. Read: This is a big deal for Montana.
Except that it wasn’t.
TransCanada worded it a little differently. In a 2011 press release, TransCanada said “In the fall of 2010, TransCanada went to the market with a proposal to move Bakken crude oil production by constructing a receipt facility at Baker, Montana. The open season was successful allowing TransCanada to sign firm contracts for 65,000 bpd of crude oil from the Bakken to key U.S, refining markets. The open season for this project closed on November 19, 2010. The Bakken Marketlink project will provide receipt facilities to transport up to 100,000 bpd of crude oil from the Williston Basin producing region in North Dakota and Montana . . .”
If TransCanada says that’s the deal, then that’s the deal. They will let 100,000 barrels of crude oil, from somewhere in the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana (and possibly Saskatchewan), into the pipeline. Not, as Governor Schweitzer says, 100,000 barrels of Montana crude. Not, as Governor Dalrymple says, 100,000 barrels of North Dakota crude. Nice try guys.
And note to Governor Dalrymple: TransCanada says there are contracts for only 65,000 barrels, not 100,000, and that those contracts are not all from North Dakota. Those numbers, Governor, come from documents provided to me and to a fellow blogger, who requested them, by your office.
But at least Governor Schweitzer backed off when he got the agreement. He is not out there beating up President Obama. He is not out there making false statements today. He’s leaving that to Dalrymple and Hoeven. And I doubt that he likes it much.
The point is, it is terribly irresponsible for Governor Dalrymple to say things like: “Now we (North Dakota) will not be able to supply the choice American markets because President Obama says he needs more time to study Keystone . . . . The Federal government is killing energy development with overly burdensome regulations.”
He said those things in his radio address, and then he went on to say: “We have doubled our oil production in the last four years and are about to become the second largest oil producing state behind only Texas.”
Huh? If the Federal Government is killing energy development, how have we managed to double our oil production?
I’m a little saddened that two once-responsible men like Jack Dalrymple and John Hoeven have fallen for, and are spreading, this anti-Obama Republican pap. I’m a little shocked to think that our Governor would give a national radio address and say things that he knew were not true. I think he should probably issue a national apology, but I don’t know how he’d do that. I’m saddened, but not shocked at all, that North Dakota news media wouldn’t pay attention to a story like this. You’d think that when a Governor goes on national radio and lies to the American public, that maybe that would be a news story.
And most of all, I hope that Senator Hoeven and Governor Dalrymple will stop doing this. If they want to beat up the President with facts they can prove are true, they can just go ahead and do that, even if it does reflect badly on our state. But they can’t just make up their own facts. Their offices call for better than that.