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John Block: Good Things Done

By former USDA Secretary John R. Block

From my perspective, our government has been getting some good things done.

Remember a year ago when hundreds of out-of-towners blocked the construction of the North Dakota pipeline?  The government spent millions of dollars on law enforcement and court fights.  In the end, the pipeline was completed.

North Dakota is enjoying the benefits of that $3.8 billion project.  Oil production grew by 78,000 barrels a day in September and October compared with last January.  They have 15 additional drilling rigs in operation.  The state unemployment rate was a low 2.3% in November.  State revenue jumped $43.5 million in 5 months.  It is obvious, with that pipeline completed and in operation, it is creating jobs and economic growth.

The other benefits are just as important.  The environment is protected.  Oil train traffic is cut by 90%.  They used to need 12 trains and 1,200 train cars to move that oil.  Oil spills occur far more often when transported by train.  Pipelines are safer and more efficient.  With the North Dakota pipeline done, maybe the Keystone pipeline can be next.

We have a government today that is willing to stand up to the environmental fringe and take action.  Another example of common sense stepping up is that the Administration rolled back the boundaries of two controversial national monuments that President Obama rushed through in his final days.  The Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante are both in Utah.  Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke “released 2 million acres from the monuments for traditional uses and public access will be restored.”  Ranchers are cheering.  So is Utah’s Governor and Congressional delegation.  Environmentalists are screaming.

If you live east of the Mississippi, you don’t think about the vast amount of land that the federal government controls in many of the western states.  I’m not against the government owning and controlling some land, but too much is too much.  We need to be able to graze it and mine it.

John Block was Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 1981-1985, where he played a key role in the development of the 1985 Farm Bill.  If you would like to review his radio shows going back more than 20 years, visit

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