President Joe Biden often tells Americans in his speeches that his policies are intended to offer – in a phrase borrowed from his father – just a little bit of “breathing room.” While I may disagree ideologically with his approach to achieving how we do that, most leaders can empathize with wanting to make life easier for the people we have the privilege to serve.
Frankly, it’s difficult to imagine a time when Americans are more in need of that breathing room with $5 to $7-per-gallon gasoline compounding the record prices they were already paying for other goods and services.
It also occurs to me that the president may also be in need of his own breathing room – not from the economic nightmare crushing ordinary families, but rather from the artificial, zero-sum game that has us stuck there. Washington has become predictably uninspired with its insistence that adopting one set of ideas excludes the possibility of all others.
The wrong direction on energy
Take Biden's insistence on shutting down the Canada-to-U.S. pipeline on his very first day in office. Despite pipelines being the safest, most effective means of transporting oil, he was forced into a Washington, D.C., construct of scrapping it entirely for the sake of his climate agenda. This decision left the families whose livelihoods depended on the pipeline, and now all Americans, feeling the squeeze of a domestic energy program run dry with no breathing room at all.
Or consider the Biden administration’s failure to hold auctions of oil and gas leases on federal lands as required by law. This stall tactic has cost North Dakota and other energy-producing states tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue, while sending a chilling signal to would-be investors and operators alike.
Fortunately for the president, North Dakota provides a way forward. In our pledge to become both carbon-neutral by 2030 and a leader in domestic energy, we have shown that fresh thinking outside of Washington demonstrates that we do not need to choose between environmental stewardship and lower costs with less foreign reliance for American consumers.
Expanding role in energy security
Through innovation, not regulation, we are pumping out oil to combat soaring gas prices, while also pumping carbon emissions right back into the ground where it can be permanently stored – up to 252 billion tons of carbon dioxide, which is enough to store over 50 years' worth of our entire nation's annual CO2 production.
During a recent visit to our state, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm even marveled that North Dakota's energy and enormous carbon storage capability were "a gift to the planet."
With billions of barrels of recoverable oil and trillions of cubic feet of natural gas reserves, we can expand our major role in our nation's energy security. We are cracking the code on clean, reliable energy production in North Dakota.
Where has Washington’s outdated, binary way of thinking gotten us? Holding our breath. At a critical moment in history, America finds itself shopping from a marketplace of our global adversaries to increase our energy supply, all while undermining the administration’s clean energy goals and “buy American” directives.
Unlike many American families facing impossible choices, President Biden has options – and they start with breathing new life into the innovation happening right in his own backyard.
Doug Burgum is the governor of North Dakota. Follow him on Twitter: @DougBurgum