Tuesday, September 1, 2020 - 05:55 pm

BISMARCK, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum and Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford welcomed U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette to North Dakota today, highlighting the importance of Minot Air Force Base’s nuclear mission and the state’s coal, oil and natural gas industries to the United States’ economic and national security.

Burgum joined Brouillette and U.S. Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer for a look at the operations of Minot Air Force Base, which is a critical center of the nation’s nuclear defense system. Leaders of the 5th Bomb Wing and 91st Missile Wing highlighted the intensive labor involved in maintaining nuclear infrastructure during a tour of the base’s aircraft maintenance and weapons storage facilities.

Burgum stressed the importance of attracting workforce to the region in order to support the base’s crucial defense mission and the surrounding civilian services. Burgum and the state Legislature took several actions last year to support veterans and make North Dakota an even more military-friendly state, including exempting military retirement benefits from state income tax for retired military personnel and their spouses and providing occupational license reciprocity for eligible trailing spouses of military personnel.

In two afternoon roundtable meetings, Burgum and Sanford joined other officials to hear from leaders in the coal and oil industries. Coal producers and regulators discussed the top issues facing the industry, such as increasing costs of electrical transmission, shifting demand and emerging research on carbon capture. Brouillette expressed his gratitude for the groundbreaking research taking place at the University of North Dakota Energy and Environmental Research Center and the state’s ongoing support of clean-coal initiatives such as Project Tundra.

At a press conference afterward, Burgum thanked Brouillette and the administration for their work to support American energy producers, cut red tape and create level markets that support entrepreneurs and innovators, enabling a return of U.S. manufacturing.

“We’re finally in a place where we’re able to sell energy to our friends versus buy it from our enemies. That’s the biggest geopolitical shift in our lifetime,” Burgum said.

As the second-largest oil producing state in the nation, representatives of the North Dakota’s oil and gas industry brought attention to the significant impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and international price wars that led to a decrease in Bakken production. Sanford emphasized the widespread nature of the issues raised during today’s discussions, saying he talks with energy industry leaders every day who share the same concerns about building a strong future for North Dakota’s all-of-the-above energy economy.

Brouillette was nominated by President Donald Trump to serve as energy secretary in November 2019 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate last December. He previously served as deputy energy secretary.