David Lias

I shared one of Gov. Kristi Noem’s latest press releases with a college friend who, for years now, has lived in the Washington, DC area.

“Very constructive and not at all intended to get her a Fox News hit,” he replied, his words dripping with sarcasm.

You probably have a friend like that. You don’t need to hear the tone of his or her voice … you can just tell, by the writing style they use, that they aren’t being serious.

Of course, the subject matter helps, too. Gov. Noem had just emailed a press release blaming President Joe Biden’s recent executive order that halted the construction of the Keystone Pipeline for the current struggles that millions of people are experiencing right now after a polar vortex decided to just plant itself over most of the United States and not budge.

The result has been low temperatures at night nearing 30 below zero and high temperatures that barely eke above zero.

During Mother Nature’s icy visit, Gov. Noem sends out this message in a press release: “Families all across the U.S. are facing life threatening cold right now.

“This should remind everyone – including President Biden – that an America-first energy policy is critically important for the continued success of our great nation. The Biden administration has taken unprecedented action in recent weeks to restrict the distribution of fuel sources that heat homes in South Dakota and many other states,” she states. “I am calling on President Biden to immediately change course in the interest of all the families struggling to heat their homes across our country.”

There are so many things wrong about this statement. Let’s make a list:

1) By the time you read this, Joe Biden will have been president for about a month. Who knew one man could do so much in such a short amount of time?

2) The Keystone XL Pipeline isn’t finished, so an executive order stopping its construction isn’t stopping the flow of oil to refineries in the United States and isn’t putting American families in immediate harm, as the governor indicates.

3) The Keystone XL Pipeline has been a great source of controversy. It’s not been a great source of oil, or of jobs, or of economic development, no matter how often Gov. Noem says it is. This pipeline has become, in fact, obsolete. Reuters reported last month that The Keystone XL pipeline project may be dead, but the United States is still poised to pull in record imports of Canadian oil in coming years through other pipelines that are in the midst of expanding.

Currently, Canada exports about 3.8 million bpd to the United States, according to U.S. Energy Department data. Analysts expect that to rise to between 4.2 million and 4.4 million bpd over the next few years. Pipeline expansions currently in progress will add more than 950,000 bpd of export capacity for Canadian producers before 2025, according to Rystad Energy.

4) One reason families ARE in harm – particularly those in Texas – is the Lone Star State’s own fault. As NBC News has reported: The problems are exacerbated because Texas, the largest energy producer and consumer in the United States, is the only state to use its own power grid. That frees it from federal regulations, including ones that could have required it to be better prepared for a freak cold snap, said Peter Fox-Penner, the founder of Boston University’s Institute for Sustainable Energy.

“Texas’ deregulatory philosophy has caused them to put much less stringent rules on generators and system operators to be prepared for cold weather than other systems, where extreme cold is more common,” he said in an interview.

“They believed that this kind of ‘perfect storm’ was so unlikely that they didn’t need to require the system to prepare for it,” Fox-Penner said.

5) The United States’ – and the globe’s – seemingly never-ending dependence on fossil fuels is why Texas, of all places, is in a deep freeze along with us northerners. As global warming continues, David Wallace-Wells, notes in his new book “The Uninhabitable Earth,” here’s what we can expect: “As temperatures rise, this could mean many of the biggest cities in the Middle East and South Asia would become lethally hot in summer, perhaps as soon as 2050. There would be ice-free summers in the Arctic and the unstoppable disintegration of the West Antarctic’s ice sheet, which some scientists believe has already begun, threatening the world’s coastal cities with inundation. Coral reefs would mostly disappear. And there would be tens of millions of climate refugees, perhaps many more, fleeing droughts, flooding and extreme heat, and the possibility of multiple climate-driven natural disasters striking simultaneously.”

6) U.S. oil wells and refineries have shut down this week, but it’s not because of President Biden or the Green New Deal or (insert favorite progressive target here).

It’s because of the crazy, extreme weather caused by global warming which is caused by all the carbon we’re tossing into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. The weather in Texas has halted oil wells and refineries there and forced restrictions from natural gas and crude pipeline operators. Texas produces roughly 4.6 million barrels of oil per day and is home to some of the nation’s top gasoline and diesel producing refineries. Joe Biden didn’t stop production at the refineries. Nor did Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. This is all the work of Mother Nature.

I could go on and on.

There’s no easy solution in the quest to produce enough energy so that society can function normally while beginning a quest to be a bit kinder to our planet in the process.

I think we can all agree to that. Well, almost all of us.

There are those who believe that the structure of U.S. politics is such that bipartisanship is the only route to substantial progress. There’s plenty of evidence and a good-faith argument to be made for that position.

But there are those who believe they should squarely grapple with the implications of a bipartisan political world and Gov. Noem is one of those people. Bipartisanship on any appreciable scale, at least based on reason and persuasion, is currently impossible in U.S. federal politics – we’ve all witnessed that this past week on Capitol Hill.

It’s impossible at Pierre, too, where a partisan, Republican world is the norm – a place where Gov. Noem can issue statements that don’t make much sense, except in that partisan place, where everything she says is accepted as truth and wisdom. It is, in fact, a make-believe world – a place where reality is hard to find.

Oh, and the more outlandish the statement, the more rewarding they become. My friend was right. Gov. Noem appeared on Fox News this week, sharing her version of truth and wisdom.


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