In April, I joined a group of leaders from America’s electric cooperatives in Washington, D.C., to ask for support of rural development programs from congressional leaders and key agencies like the EPA, DOE, USFW, and others.
Over 2,000 cooperative directors, CEOs, and employees participated in the legislative conference sponsored by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. One of the highlights of the conference was a speech from U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue. He confirmed his support for rural America, electric cooperatives, the expansion of broadband, and our family farms. The electric cooperative representatives from North Dakota met with Senators Hoeven and Heitkamp, and staff from Congressman Cramer’s office. We discussed important issues for North Dakota relating to the farm bill, Waters of the U.S., support for the USDA, and the 45Q tax credit for possible carbon dioxide capture for enhanced oil recovery and sequestration. We are very fortunate in North Dakota to have a congressional delegation that supports our industry. This summer Minnkota Power Cooperative will have a carbon capture demonstration project installed at the Young Station near Center. The project will be coordinated by the Energy and Environmental Research Center at UND.
During our visit to Washington, D.C., we had the opportunity to visit the halls of the Senate and federal agencies. Part of our freedom as Americans is that we have unprecedented access to our elected officials. Although time didn't permit casual visits to the numerous historical landmarks, the timing of our conference did coincide with the annual cherry blossom bloom. If you have not seen the cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C., consider adding it to your bucket list. In fact, if you haven’t experienced the history of our nation’s capital, a visit at any time of the year should be added to your need-to-do list.
On my way back to the great state of North Dakota, I encountered an unexpected event at the airport. Next to my departure gate was an incoming honor flight of veterans. Before the veterans entered the gate area, a band started to play, and a crowd gathered to see what was happening. When the first veteran came to the gate area, the crowd cheered and clapped while the band played patriotic music. The crowd, which I’d become a part of, applauded and thanked the vets until the last one departed the gate area. I have great admiration and respect for the citizens of the U.S. who have and who currently serve our country, including my father-in-law who served in the Korean war and our son who serves in the North Dakota National Guard. Seeing the look and smiles on the faces of the veterans as they entered that gate was an extraordinary moment, one of my proudest as an American and the highlight of my trip to Washington, D.C.
As we celebrate Independence Day, and this past Memorial Day, I would personally like to thank all men and women who have served and who are currently serving to protect the freedom we enjoy as Americans.