Tuesday, February 23, 2021


Earlier this month, winter storms caused an energy crisis in states from Texas to South Dakota. Millions of Americans faced power failures as utility companies in 14 states began implementing rolling blackouts. Many locations reported the coldest temperatures they have experienced in decades if not ever.

This experience illustrates the dangers of President Biden‘s decision to move away from an America-first energy policy. It also highlights the importance of prioritizing infrastructure projects that will preserve America’s energy independence for future generations.

On his first day in office, President Biden signed an executive order cancelling the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. He has since signed an executive order that bans new oil and gas development on federal land and in offshore waters. The second order also attempts to financially ransack the coal industry. Together, these orders create a bottleneck on America’s energy supply by preventing future energy development.

Of course, the Keystone XL pipeline cancellation strikes close to home for South Dakota in particular. TC Energy the company building the pipeline had estimated that the project would bring thousands of jobs to South Dakota over the course of the coming years. Some of those jobs were already in place, as crews were laying the groundwork for the eventual pipeline itself.

The pipeline would have also brought additional business to local hotels, gas stations, restaurants, and more. We were starting to see those effects, and more growth would have continued as construction ramped up. The pipeline would have also helped every South Dakota family and every family across our country spend less at the gas pump and save money when heating their homes. That’s particularly important given this month’s power failures.

Once the project was completed, South Dakota communities would have continued to benefit from property tax dollars to their local school districts. The Keystone XL’s infrastructure would have strengthened the local infrastructure of these communities, in turn.

Keystone XL was good policy on energy because it would have increased American energy independence. Pipelines are also far safer for the environment than the trucks and trains that we currently use to transport this oil. There’s less risk of spills, and less risk of traffic accidents for the general public.

But President Biden‘s refusal to prioritize safe and reliable energy infrastructure projects will have an impact that stretches beyond South Dakota, and we’re only beginning to see the repercussions.

Most immediately, Americans across the country should expect to see their gas prices increase in the months and years to come. The blackouts and power failures we saw earlier this month are a representation of what energy reliability looks like in the coming years if we continue to abandon key energy infrastructure projects.

America needs diverse energy policy. We need an all-of-the-above approach to give us greater consistency and dependability. We do need alternative energy sources such as wind turbines and solar panels. I’ve supported wind energy for years, and South Dakota has benefited tremendously from wind production.

But incidents like this month’s multi-state blackout show that we cannot rely on alternatives alone. We must continue to prioritize energy infrastructure projects that safely and reliably fuel our country. This is critical for the safety of our families and the security of our nation.

Moving forward, limits to our energy infrastructure will hamper economic growth nationwide. American businesses, from large corporations to small businesses, need affordable and reliable energy to keep their operations running and keep employees on the payroll. Right now, the U.S. is the world’s leading producer of oil and natural gas and is a net exporter of energy, which means that we can better provide for our own energy needs. American businesses and families do not deserve to have that kind of stability undermined by having to rely more on foreign energy sources but President Biden‘s decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline will force us to do just that.

To meet the future energy needs of Americans, we need more pipeline and refinery capacity, not less. We need to continue to responsibly develop the vast energy resources our country is blessed with, on both private and federal lands. In addition, we must base our energy policy decisions on sound science, market principles, and the interests of the American consumer not political platitudes.

• Governor Kristi Noem is a wife, mother, lifelong rancher, farmer, and small business owner. She serves as South Dakota’s 33rd governor and first female governor. She previously served in the South Dakota state legislature and as South Dakota’s lone member of the U.S. House of Representatives. In her 2021 State of the State address, Gov. Noem described South Dakota as “open, living with its means,” and “the perfect place to raise your family, grow your business, and live your life as you see fit.”

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