BISMARCK, ND (KXNET) — Many political leaders stress the idea of cutting our nation’s carbon emissions to zero.

But our state DEM NPL leaders say that is a targeted initiative.

“Binary thinking, I think, comes into play. When we talk about cutting them to zero, I think that’s a very lofty goal. One thing that I really support is an all of the above energy plan,” said DEM-NPL treasurer, Patrick Hart. 

He says take a look at the Bismarck/Mandan area in particular.

“On the river, there’s a refinery and a power plant, and just recently that power plant switched from coal to natural gas, which is a byproduct of the Bakken oil field that is getting captured. We’re able to use that to lower our greenhouse emissions, so I think once we can really use the byproducts in a smart and responsible way, we’ll start seeing those greenhouse emissions get cut,” he said. 

DEM-NPL’s Cheryl Biller says this is a workforce, education and even a technology innovation issue.

“We know that greenhouse gases are causing climate change in this country, and they’re having negative impacts for people all around the world, including here in the United States and in North Dakota. Our climate is changing here too. When we shift from reliance on pretty much a singular source of energy, like we’re trying to do now, we not only have to be responsible for making that change, but we also have to make sure that the jobs that are lost related to that are picked up and that our workers aren’t left behind in that way,” she said. 

KX News then asked about the job force overall in our state. 

What about careers or something more long term for people in our region?

“I think when I look at, you know, Job Service North Dakota, I keep hearing how many jobs there are. Um, you know, if there’s 50 or 60 thousand unfilled jobs right now, I think right now we need to focus on the workforce. Just last week, I talked to a former colleague, who was leaving the position at the government, which is a very stable position. But because of the lack of increase in pay for public workers, she’s moving to the private sector. So, I think we really need to focus on the people that are here,” said Hart. 

Cheryl Biller added that the typical difference between a job and a career is often a living wage.

“If we were to focus on making sure that the jobs that we have here are paying a living wage, so that people can have an affordable place to live, can raise a family, many of the things that are stepping stone jobs right now could become careers for people,” said Biller. 

KX News asked the two what they thought the most economic challenge the United States is facing today, and they both agreed on childcare.

Patrick Hart says families need affordable and safe places for their children, so their parents can contribute to North Dakota’s workforce.