"We have plenty of confidence in this country but we are a little short of good men to place our confidence in," so said Will Rogers.
It is a quandary we wrestle with today - most of us embrace responsible energy development and the public benefits which should follow. And to their credit, oil companies are very good at what they do - extracting minerals under very challenging conditions. Unfortunately, those tasked with defending the public interest - members of the State Industrial Commission - are not very good at what they do. The result: pipeline ruptures and toxic spills are commonplace.
Can we have confidence in a commission that dismisses these as "growing pains" rather than a lack of planning and oversight? The better question: Why is North Dakota putting up with this?
One need look no further than Industrial Commission member Doug Goehring's campaign coffers, larded with oil money, for the answer. Oil interests have made their choice between Goehring and challenger Ryan Taylor in the upcoming election for agriculture commissioner - and Goehring is their man.
In Goehring the oil industry has an ally who'll ensure the industry continues to operate unencumbered by concern for residents and producers and the long-term impacts on our landscape. Profits for them, "growing pains" for residents. These companies clearly expect Goehring will do the right thing - for them.
While politicians think of the next election a statesman thinks of the next generation. We need statesmen at the helm now as the oil industry transitions from production to profit, someone who will ensure North Dakota remains extraordinary. Taylor's allegiance is to North Dakota farmers, ranchers and residents, a statesman could have no other choice. Who will Goehring, flush with oil money, choose to represent?