OPINION: Armstrong stands up for ND jobs, American energy

By Congressman Dan Newhouse

This piece was originally published in the Minot Daily News on February 17, 2021.

When it comes to standing up for their way of life, the people of North Dakota could not have a stronger advocate than Representative Kelly Armstrong. For the past two years, I have worked with Representative Armstrong on a number of issues through his involvement in the Congressional Western Caucus, a group that advocates for the values and beliefs of rural communities across the country. Now, he has introduced legislation that will directly help the people of North Dakota – and those across the country – whose lives have been upended by President Biden’s termination of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

His legislation, the Keystone XL Pipeline Construction and Jobs Preservation Act, would counteract President Biden’s attack on the energy industry, authorize the construction and operation of the Pipeline, and eliminate the need for a Presidential permit. This bill has garnered strong support – from over 100 Members in the House of Representatives and from thousands of union and industry workers across the country.

This is exactly the kind of legislation we need to reverse President Biden’s misguided action and ensure that no President can – with the flick of a pen – destroy American jobs, decimate our energy independence, and threaten our national security. This is good policy – no matter who is in the White House.

Policies and decisions that are bad for North Dakota or many of the seemingly forgotten rural communities throughout the West are bad for the whole United States. This Executive Order not only has an immediate, devastating effect on small, local communities, but it will also have a long-term economic impact on all Americans. Higher electricity bills, higher gasoline prices, and higher food costs are just some of the ways that people – even in large urban areas of our country – will feel the impacts of the elimination of the Keystone XL Pipeline, and many may not even know it yet.

In 2018, the oil industry employed 35,800 North Dakotans, and in 2019, the average hourly wage for North Dakota oil and gas industry workers was $51. President Biden is not only forcing these workers to abandon their career and learn new skills, but to walk away from a job that pays over 7 times the state’s minimum wage.

I am a third-generation farmer. For decades, my family has been working the land in the Yakima Valley of Washington state, where my son continues to operate our farm. I would be deeply offended if a President – or anyone for that matter – decimated my entire livelihood overnight. That is exactly what this Executive Order is doing for the workers along the Keystone XL Pipeline, and it is unconscionable to believe that President Biden would take this unilateral action without any input from the communities that are most affected by his decision – let alone in the middle of a global pandemic.

As Chairman of the Western Caucus, I work closely with Members like Representative Armstrong to lift up the voices of rural communities and ensure their stories are not forgotten. We recently had the opportunity to participate in a roundtable discussion hosted by Representative Dusty Johnson in Philip, S.D., where we heard directly from the individuals, small business owners, and community members impacted by President Biden’s Executive Order.

President Biden made a reckless, thoughtless decision when he terminated the Keystone XL Pipeline, and the stories we heard at the roundtable made that all-the-more evident. It is these stories that are so critical for us to bring back to Washington, D.C. to show how significantly Americans are being impacted. It is these stories that we need to continue to share, and I encourage the people of the great state of North Dakota to help us make your voices heard.

Dan Newhouse, a Republican, represents Washington’s 4th Congressional District in Congress and currently serves as Chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus. He is a third-generation farmer from Central Washington and previously served as Director of the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

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