Burgum urges ‘innovation, not regulation’ during White House meeting on infrastructure

Friday, June 9, 2017 - 9:00am

WASHINGTON, D.C. – During a roundtable meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, Gov. Doug Burgum said “innovation, not regulation” is the right direction for rebuilding and expanding the nation’s infrastructure.

Burgum and Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford attended the White House summit on infrastructure with governors from seven other states, as well as mayors, county commissioners and tribal officials from across the country.

After lunch with Vice President Mike Pence and breakout sessions on topics including energy, transportation and rural infrastructure, participants met with President Trump, who has proposed $200 billion in federal spending over 10 years to stimulate a total of $1 trillion in infrastructure spending with state, local and private sector partners. The administration also wants to undo burdensome regulations and streamline the permitting process to reduce project approval times from up to 10 years currently down to two years.

“Together, we’re going to rebuild America,” President Trump said.

Burgum had the opportunity to address the president directly during the roundtable discussion, thanking him for appointing a Cabinet that is pro-business, pro-energy and pro-agriculture. Burgum stressed that North Dakota is an all-of-the-above energy state with wind, coal, oil and ethanol, but federal regulations have hampered progress.

“Regulation is not going to solve our country’s problems at a time when innovation is happening super rapidly,” Burgum said to President Trump, noting North Dakota is investing in carbon-capture technology that could also be used for enhanced oil recovery. “We’ve got to get back on the innovation team as a country.”

Burgum also cited the $2.1 billion Fargo-Moorhead diversion project as an example of a shovel-ready project supported mostly by state and local dollars but being held up by federal funding.

“Let’s move the ones where we’ve got local support to the front of the line,” Burgum said.

The governor also highlighted the importance of broadband Internet access for connecting rural America and supporting precision agriculture, unmanned aerial systems and other technology.

During a breakout session with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Sanford advocated for ending the practice of duplicative environmental studies that unnecessarily delay projects such as the Garrison Diversion/Red River Valley Water Supply Project, as well as reducing permitting times for oil and gas wells on federal lands.  

Burgum was invited to the summit after spending time at the Drone Focus Conference last week in Fargo with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, who led sessions Thursday with other Cabinet members and senior administration officials.

“Infrastructure is the foundation of our communities and our economy, and Brent and I are highly encouraged by this administration’s genuine commitment to repairing, rebuilding and expanding infrastructure to keep citizens safe and create jobs,” Burgum said. “We look forward to continued collaboration and the opportunity to put American ingenuity to work for the benefit of citizens in North Dakota and across the nation.”