North Dakota leaders coalesce against President Joe Biden's climate orders

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum's executive order directs state agencies to assess the damages of Biden's oil industry restrictions

An oil well pumps at sunrise in western North Dakota's Bakken Formation. Forum News Service file photo

BISMARCK — North Dakota leaders have mobilized against recent orders from President Joe Biden to restrict the oil industry in the last week, showing early contrast with an administration that has so far set an aggressive tone in its plans to address climate change.

On Tuesday, Feb. 2, Gov. Doug Burgum issued an executive order directing state agencies to assess the economic damages of Biden's moratoriums on oil and gas leasing on federal lands, calling on them to "identify opportunities" to challenge the new federal actions.

"The Biden administration's recent executive orders pose a serious threat to American energy security, our nation's economic growth and the tens of thousands of North Dakotans whose livelihoods depend on the oil, gas and coal industries," Burgum said in a statement. The governor called on agencies to determine the economic and workforce consequences of Biden's executive orders and to look for "all available tools to challenge federal overreach."

Biden came out of the gates with a string of actions against the fossil fuel industries, part of the new president's ambitious plan to take on climate change.

Among early statement moves, Biden imposed an indefinite moratorium on oil and gas leasing on federal lands last week. That moratorium followed an earlier 60-day suspension on federal leasing, as well as the Day One decision to cancel a permit for the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, a move that many have taken as a signal of Biden's willingness to shutdown the Dakota Access Pipeline, as well.


Burgum's executive order comes in the wake of moves by North Dakota's congressional leadership to counter the Biden climate agenda. Each of the state's senators and its congressman introduced legislation in Washington aimed at counteracting the recent White House moves.

Rep. Kelly Armstrong introduced a longshot bill in the House of Representatives on Tuesday to circumvent Biden's action against Keystone XL, legislation that would greenlight continued construction of the U.S. and Canadian pipeline without presidential approval.

In a statement, Armstrong called Biden's cancellation of the Keystone permit "an attack on the way of life for thousands of people who rely on energy production to feed their families." The bill is broadly supported by Republicans but faces an uphill battle in the Democratically-controlled House.

On the Senate side, Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer signed onto companion legislation to bypass Biden's order and move forward with Keystone XL construction.

"This important infrastructure project provides good jobs and economic growth, while also bolstering our energy security and helping reduce our reliance on Middle Eastern oil," Hoeven said in a statement. "This legislation is part of our efforts to support our domestic energy industry and the jobs, economic growth and national security it provides."

The Senate bill follows legislation introduced by Hoeven and Cramer last week that would bar the president from issuing moratoria on oil and gas leasing on federal lands.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Adam Willis, a Report for America corps member, at

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