Audio: Governor Doug Burgum Says We’re “Moving Towards an Era of Zero Tolerance” for Oil Spills

North Dakota governor candidate Doug Burgum addresses supporters after winning the Republican vote in the primary election Tuesday, June 14, 2016, at Ecce Gallery in downtown Fargo. Dave Wallis / The Forum

Recently North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum held a closed door meeting with representatives of the oil and gas industry to talk about pipeline safety.

Because the meeting was closed to the public Burgum came under fire from the Bismarck Tribune. “When Gov. Doug Burgum took office we knew he would take a different approach to government,” the paper wrote in an editorial. “Unfortunately, that includes excluding the public from discussions that directly impact them.”

But Burgum defended the meeting. “If you want to solve problems today…you’ve got to solve them through innovation not regulation,” he told me.

“When we get to making policy we’ll have the hearings,” he said.

He added that he was “trying to challenge” the industry leaders to see what they were doing on the issue, and said it was appropriate to have that sort of conversation in private. Policy making, though, should be public.

“When we get to making policy we’ll have the hearings,” he said.

Burgum said one thing he told the industry leaders is that intense political and media scrutiny on spills is creating different expectations from the public. He alluded to the fact that 84 gallons of oil leaking from the recently completed Dakota Access Pipeline made national news even as two oil trucks colliding near New Town, something which resulted in far more spilled oil, did not.

His point is, fair or not, there is now a double standard for pipeline leaks. “We’re moving towards an era of zero tolerance,” he said.

Here’s our full interview:

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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