January 29, 2009

U.S. Senators describe what new president means to N.D.

Editor’s note: Paul Gackle, a Garrison native, is a graduate student at University of California at Berkeley. He, and a group of students, were assigned to the inauguration.

The National Mall was a sea of flags – red, white and blue. Chants of "U.S.A, U.S.A, U.S.A," echoed through the crowd. The atmosphere was electric – joy, revelry, hope. On this day, the country rose above the fog of economic depression to celebrate history, another chapter in the story written by heroes, like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, and regular people like, Sakakawea, Rosa Parks and the soldiers who have sacrificed themselves for America overseas.

An estimated 1.8 million people filled the mall from the U.S. Capitol to the Washington Monument – almost three times the population of my home state of North Dakota. As I surveyed the scene from below the Washington Monument, I couldn’t help but wonder, what does "Change" mean for North Dakota? Last week, I had to opportunity to chat with both of the state’s U.S. Sens. Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan to discuss how the new government will affect life in North Dakota.

What do you think "Change" will mean for North Dakota?

Sen. Kent Conrad:


I think it’s going to mean very good things on the energy front with respect to wind energy and the electrical grid, so that we can deliver power produced in North Dakota and get it down to the Chicago market where it is badly needed. Hopefully, it means a more farmer-friendly administration. This last administration vetoed the Farm Bill and was also quite hostile to the changes in Medicare necessary to give our hospitals a more fair reimbursement.

Sen. Byron Dorgan:

What will clean energy reform mean for the coal and oil industries that are pretty strong in the Sakakawea region?

The new president takes office in a period of significant economic turmoil. His first duty is recovery and getting people back to work. First, we must all tighten our belts. This administration will have a solid policy on water programs and energy. Those are the things that will have an impact on our state. There will be a substantial amount of money invested in wind and solar energy and carbon capture technology for coal mines, which the state should benefit from.

The Weather Network