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North Dakota governor grew emotional talking about face mask politics

North Dakota governor grew emotional talking about face mask politics

  • trump mask coronavirus

    President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks Tuesday, May 5, 2020, at Honeywell International Inc. in Phoenix.


    Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead



    • North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, a Republican, appeared to hold back tears when urging his citizens to show “empathy” and wear a face covering when in public.
    • “If someone is wearing a mask, they’re not doing it to represent what political party they’re in or what candidates they support,” he said.
    • President Trump has repeatedly been photographed in public settings without a mask and has said he does not want the media to see him wearing one.
    • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum on Friday got emotional when urging his residents to wear a face mask and avoid turning the act into a political battle. 

“I would really love to see in North Dakota that we could just skip this thing that other parts of the nation are going through where they’re creating a divide — either it’s ideological or political or something — around mask versus no mask,” Burgum, a Republican, said at a press conference Friday. 

Burgum called the political debate over whether to wear a facial covering in public a “senseless dividing line,” and he said he was asking his citizens “to try to dial up [their] empathy and understanding.” 

Masks are not presently required in North Dakota. There has been heated debate as all 50 states have begun to relax stay-at-home orders over whether facial coverings — and particularly their requirement in some areas — are necessary particularly among people who believe the COVID-19 pandemic is exaggerated or believe mandated masks are a violation of civil liberties, as The Associated Press reported.

During a Friday visit to a Ford manufacturing facility in Michigan, the president was photographed without a mask, though he said he wore one during a tour of the facility but took it off because he did not want the media to see him wearing it. Trump similarly said he wore a mask “backstage” during a tour of a Honeywell factory on May 6.  Vice President Mike Pence was also photographed without a mask when he visited the Mayo Clinic at the end of April.

—The Recount (@therecount) May 22, 2020

The president reportedly fears wearing a face mask will harm his chances at reelection and make him look ridiculous. 

It hasn’t just been White House leaders stroking divisions surrounding the facial coverings. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson earlier this month defended his decision to go mask-free when visiting a thrift store for veterans in Joplin, Missouri. He said he didn’t believe it was the “government’s place” to determine whether residents should wear a face mask in public and it was up to the individual. 

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said last month that Ohioans would be required to wear face masks in reopened businesses, though — after protest  — he said it was just a recommendation and that his mandate went “too far.” The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended in April that facial coverings be worn in public, though US leaders had earlier said masks should only be worn by medical professionals or people who test positive for COVID-19.

“If someone is wearing a mask they’re not doing it to represent what political party they’re in or what candidates they support. They might be doing it because they’ve got a 5-year-old child who’s going through cancer treatments,” Burgum said, as his voice began to shake and he took a brief pause. 

“They might have vulnerable adults who currently have COVID and are fighting,” he added. “So again I would love to see our state as part of being ‘North Dakota Smart‘ also be North Dakota kind, North Dakota empathetic.” 

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Dakota

South Dakota embraces Sturgis motorcycle rally: ‘We’ve been back to normal for three months’

Officials inside and outside South Dakota are expressing concern about the potential spread of the coronavirus during an annual motorcycle rally that opened Friday in the Black Hills and typically attracts hundreds of thousands of bikers. But officials in Sturgis, the town of 7,000 residents that has hosted the rally for 80 years, are not…

South Dakota embraces Sturgis motorcycle rally: ‘We’ve been back to normal for three months’

Officials inside and outside South Dakota are expressing concern about the potential spread of the coronavirus during an annual motorcycle rally that opened Friday in the Black Hills and typically attracts hundreds of thousands of bikers.

But officials in Sturgis, the town of 7,000 residents that has hosted the rally for 80 years, are not quite as worried.

“I don’t know if we’re concerned about an outbreak,” said Sturgis spokeswoman Christina Steele. “It’s mostly asymptomatic people that could spread this.”

Officials in neighboring states, however, don’t share that attitude, which some have called cavalier and others have attributed to South Dakota’s libertarian streak.

“We are concerned with any large gathering sustained contact of that nature,” Jan Malcolm, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health, said at a news conference earlier this week. “South Dakota has seen its spikes, as well. It’s not like they’re going into an environment that has no risk.”

The coronavirus has not hit South Dakota as hard as other states. The state has had more than 9,200 infections and 141 deaths, and fewer than 50 people currently are hospitalized.

But positive cases have been climbing over the past two months in neighboring Minnesota, Nebraska and North Dakota. And the South Dakota Department of Health lists Meade and Pennington counties — home to many of the rally events — as having “substantial” community spread of COVID-19.

In Wyoming, which has had 27 COVID-19-related deaths, officials are recommending that riders should think before hopping on bikes and driving cross-country to the 10-day rally, which is expected to attract about 250,000 bikers — half its usual draw.

“We recognize this has the potential to be an especially large gathering,” said Kim Deti, spokeswoman for the Wyoming Department of Health. “And we know the larger the gathering, the greater the risk.”

Despite a town survey showing 60% of residents wanted to cancel this year’s rally, the Sturgis City Council voted this summer to go ahead with the event, where motorcyclists spend millions of dollars amid campgrounds, music venues and other attractions.

Health warnings have been muted from the state’s leadership. Gov. Kristi Noem, a Repulbican, has discouraged mask-wearing in schools and welcomed President Trump to an outdoor rally at Mount Rushmore last month. She invited riders to the state on during an appearance on Fox News Wednesday evening.

“We’ve been back to normal for over three months here in South Dakota,” said Ms. Noem. “We hope people come [to Sturgis].”

The South Dakota Tourism Department estimates last year’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally drew nearly 500,000 people and generates $800 million in revenue. Riders travel from all over the nation, including COVID-19 hotspots like Florida, California, and Texas.

This year’s rally will look notably different.

Tribal nations on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and the Cheyenne Sioux Reservation — where coronavirus rates have outpaced those in most other counties — have set up checkpoints along major highways into western South Dakota that could slow some riders coming into town.

And the City of Sturgis has cancelled its sponsorship of some downtown events and is requiring masks to be provided to all staff on city grounds. Concert venues have set up hand sanitizer stations and arranged for crowds to maintain distance from stages.

Fears that the virus might be brought into the state persist.

“The biggest thing if for you to decide whether or not you’re safe to go to something like this,” said Dr. Benjamin Aaker, president of the South Dakota Medical Association. “Should I go this year or not? Talk to your doctor about whether you can be safe.”

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Keystone XL, Dakota Access, Atlantic Coast pipelines undercut by Obama-appointed judges

The nation may be awash in oil and natural gas, but U.S. pipelines are running on fumes after three high-profile conduits ran aground in 24 hours, the victims of Obama-appointed judges and regulatory uncertainty under the possibility of a climate-woke Biden presidency. In this week’s triple whammy, a federal judge ordered the 3-year-old Dakota Access…

Keystone XL, Dakota Access, Atlantic Coast pipelines undercut by Obama-appointed judges

The nation may be awash in oil and natural gas, but U.S. pipelines are running on fumes after three high-profile conduits ran aground in 24 hours, the victims of Obama-appointed judges and regulatory uncertainty under the possibility of a climate-woke Biden presidency.

In this week’s triple whammy, a federal judge ordered the 3-year-old Dakota Access Pipeline to empty pending an environmental review. The Keystone XL pipeline, still under construction, was further delayed after the Supreme Court upheld a lower-court order blocking a permit.

Despite winning a Supreme Court case last month, Dominion Energy and Duke Energy stunned the industry by abandoning after six years the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, citing the “increasing legal uncertainty that overhangs large-scale energy and industrial infrastructure development in the United States.”

Environmental activists gushed over the historic three-fer, raising the possibility that the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines could be erased next year by a Biden administration, while Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette blasted the “well-funded obstructionist environmental lobby” for killing the Atlantic Coast project.

The decisions were “more reminders that activist judges and special interest litigants are determining the fate of our national and energy security,” Mr. Brouillette said. “These developments should be deeply concerning for every American at every socio-economic level.”

The rulings show that the U.S. pipeline infrastructure has become the soft target for environmental groups seeking to bring down the fossil fuel industry and replace it with renewable energy in the name of fighting climate change.

“To avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis, our companies must transition away from the use of fossil fuels,” said Lila Holzman, energy program manager of As You Sow. “Building more gas infrastructure now without a clear justification is a recipe for stranded assets.”

The Sierra Club hailed the cancellation of the $8 billion Atlantic Coast project as a “monumental, historic victory and will have far-reaching implications,” a “watershed moment in the fight for climate action” and “another indicator of the end of fossil fuels.”

Rep. Dan Crenshaw, Texas Republican, called that view ironic, given that the nation leads the world in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which fell by 12% from 2005 to 2017 thanks largely to the increased use of natural gas instead of coal in electricity generation.

“FACT: Natural gas is responsible for majority of emissions reduction over last 15 years,” tweeted Mr. Crenshaw. “When leftist radicals stop a natural gas pipeline — the safest way to transport natural gas — you have to wonder if they really care about the environment.”

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, the presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, has vowed that if he wins, he will pull the plug on the Keystone XL pipeline’s U.S. leg, which would run shale oil from Canada to Nebraska.

Bill McKibben, founder of the climate change group 350.org, tweeted that “if Biden wins it’s all over” for the Keystone XL.

“Any investor thinking of putting cash into fossil fuel infrastructure projects should be warned they’re tossing their money away,” Mr. McKibben tweeted.

Heartland Institute President James Taylor said Tuesday that “America just got a sneak peek of the Joe Biden energy plan: ‘Better Green than Employed.’”

“Back in December, Biden said he would be willing to sacrifice oil and gas jobs for his green economy,” Mr. Taylor said. “Now, cancellation of the Atlantic Coast pipeline plan cancels 17,000 jobs and $2.7 billion in economic activity at a time when the American economy and American workers desperately need some good news.”

Stephen Moore, founder of the Committee to Unleash Prosperity, called the pipeline cancellation “more evidence that if Biden wins in November our domestic energy industry will be in rubbles and Saudi Arabia and Russia will be the big winners.”

The Keystone XL was hamstrung in April when U.S. District Court Chief Judge Brian Morris, an Obama appointee, canceled the so-called Nationwide Permit 12 allowing work across waterways. The Supreme Court on Monday allowed other pipeline projects to proceed while environmental reviews are conducted, but not Keystone XL.

TC Energy in Alberta, Canada, said the company remains committed to the Keystone XL, but will “continue to evaluate our 2020 U.S. scope. In Canada, our work in 2020 remains unchanged.”

Environmentalists said the Dakota Access ruling, which was handed down by U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg, an Obama appointee, ordered the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to prepare an environmental impact statement, which could take years.

“The shutdown will remain in place pending completion of a full environmental review, which normally takes several years, and the issuance of new permits,” said Earthjustice, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes. “It may be up to a new administration to make final permitting decisions.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Brouillette described the decision as a loss for the economies of North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois.

The 1,172-mile pipeline, which went online in June 2017, carries oil from North Dakota’s Bakken field to oil terminals in Illinois, but was challenged by the tribes over fears about environmental damage. The pipeline runs a half mile from the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota.

“It is disappointing that, once again, an energy infrastructure project that provides thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in economic revenue has been shut down by the well-funded environmental lobby, using our nation’s court system to further their agenda,” Mr. Brouillette said.

He added that “the shutdown will eliminate millions of tax dollars paid by the pipeline each year that go towards schools, hospitals, and other community services.”

Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah, the top Republican on the House Natural Resources Committee, called the setbacks “more reminders that activist judges and special interest litigants are determining the fate of our national and energy security.”

“Having the world’s most abundant and clean energy sources and the most stringent environmental laws means nothing without means of transport,” Mr. Bishop said.

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