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Plain Talk: Lawyer talks about fight over haze regulations, Fargo commission candidate talks about campaign

An attorney representing North Dakota's coal industry talks about the federal government's efforts to add more clear air regulations on top of the state's already excellent program. Matuor Alier, a candidate for Fargo City Commission, talks about his campaign.

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A visitor takes in the view from Buck Hill in Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Contributed / North Dakota Tourism
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MINOT, N.D. — When it comes to regulating air quality — both in terms of health and cosmetic measures like visibility — North Dakota, by all applicable measures, does an excellent job.

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Mark Haugen, the Democratic-NPL candidate for North Dakota's at-large U.S. House seat, feels it's important to remember that pro-life Democrats are a part of the party. "Are we the minority? Absolutely. But that's democracy," he said. "I have to work hard at explaining my position."

We have some of the cleanest air in the nation. Ours is one of only four states to have never violated a federal air quality standard protecting health or the environment. We've been building on that excellent record, too. "Since 2002, total emissions from coal-powered electricity generation plants in North Dakota were reduced by 102,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, or 72%, and 41,600 tons of nitrogen oxide, down 55%," Patrick Springer reported last month .

Despite this, the Biden administration argues that North Dakota's state-level management of regional haze isn't good enough, and that it's affecting visibility at places such as Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

They want to layer more federal regulations on top through the EPA's Regional Haze Program.

Mack McGuffey, an attorney who specializes in this area of environmental policy and is representing North Dakota's Lignite Energy Council, joined this episode of Plain Talk to discuss the issue. He points out that not only does North Dakota an excellent track record when it comes to regulating to keeping air healthy and clear, but that the state is actually ahead of schedule when it comes to meeting the EPA's goal for clear air.

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He and his client are encouraging the public to provide public comment to the EPA, something you can do through CleanAirND.com , a website set up by the LEC to inform and facilitate that process.

Matuor Alier, who is running for the Fargo City Commission, also joined this episode. We talked about his objections to a recent column of mine that was critical of him, how a local candidate can stand out in a field of 15 contenders, and his experiences as a refugee who went from living in a camp for a decade to being a home owner in North Dakota.

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Forum Communications Company is proud to be a part of the Trust Project. Learn more at thetrustproject.org .

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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