Plain Talk With Rob Port

Plain Talk is a podcast hosted by blogger and columnist Rob Port focusing on political news and current events in North Dakota. Host Rob Port writes, North Dakota’s most popular and influential political blog.

All Episodes

244: Hydrogen is coming to North Dakota

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A big name in power is coming to North Dakota to invest in hydrogen energy, and it's a big deal for our state in a lot of ways. It's a new industry, for one, in a state that desperately needs economic diversification. The proposed hydrogen hub will be a new customer for North Dakota natural gas, a commodity produced as a byproduct of oil exploration here. We produce so much a lot of it gets burned off as excess in the Bakken oil fields. It will also be a shot in the arm for North Dakota's nascent efforts with carbon capture. The hydrogen plant will be carbon-neutral because what carbon it produces will be captured and stored here in the state. On this episode of Plain Talk Live, Bakken Energy CEO Mike Hopkins will discuss this new project and the specifics of North Dakota, from public policy to geology, that are making it possible.

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243: LGBT conversion theraphy, gerrymandering, and filibusters

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The Administrative Rules Committee approved a ban on LGBT conversion therapy asked for by the North Dakota Board of Social Work Examiners, which oversees licensing for social workers.

Some Republican lawmakers resisted the change. Was it the right move?

I'll talk about it with former Democratic-NPL executive director Chad Oban on this episode of Plain Talk.

This episode of Plain Talk will also feature, prominently, two of the most fun political words.



Now that the census is completed, the task of redistricting lays before North Dakota's lawmakers. Since North Dakotans mostly vote for Republicans, that means the process will be controlled by Republicans

Already, some of the state's Democrats are suggesting that the Republican plan will be an exercise in gerrymandering (whee!) which should be referred to the ballot and defeated by voters who would then also vote to approve a Democratic plan which could only be introduced at the ballot box because, again, North Dakotans mostly don't vote for Democrats.

Sound convoluted? It is.

Also, at the national level, Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, is the lone vote standing in the way of much of the Democratic agenda, including ending the filibuster (whoo!) and advancing sweeping election reforms.

Is he taking a stand for the wellbeing of our country? Or is this an exercise in self-serving politics?

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242: How many wind turbines do you want in your backyard?

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"Rural America gets bad vibrations from Big Wind," Robert Bryce wrote recently in the Wall Street Journal. He notes that President Joe Biden's administration is pushing for "tens of thousands of wind turbines," but asks, "where, exactly, will all those turbines be built?" It's a good question. Many Americans, even those who support the concept of wind energy, may not realize just how thoroughly we will need to carpet-bomb our landscape with wind turbines to reach some of the goals set for wind production. Remember, too, that all those turbines will also need to be serviced by transmission lines to carry that energy to market. While a coal plant or a nuclear plant generally sits in one location, wind turbines are dispersed across the landscape, and the transmission lines that serve them end up covering a lot of ground. Bryce, who has authored a report on this problem for the Center of the American Experiment, a Minnesota-based think tank, joins this episode of Plain Talk Live to talk about wind turbines and the challenges of not-in-my-back-yard attitudes. You can read Bryce's WSJ article here: You can read his report for the Center of the American Experiment here:

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241: What could derail the sale of Coal Creek Station?

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Coal Creek Station is North Dakota's largest coal-fired power plant and, for a while, it was slated for closure, thanks to a long-running political campaign to tilt the energy markets away from coal, with environmental activists and political partisans cheering its demise. Then, a reprieve. Current owner Great River Energy is close to a deal with a buyer that would continue to operate the plant. Yet there are forces working to undermine that deal - some for political reasons, others because they just don't want to compete with coal-fired power anymore. At the center of this vortex of politics and energy is McLean County and State's Attorney Ladd Erickson who want the power plant to remain open. The closure of Coal Creek Station would be economically and culturally devastating for central North Dakota. McLean County and Erickson have shown a willingness to fight the anti-coal political winds. On this episode of Plain Talk, Erickson joins to discuss the pending deal.

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240: Putting the smile back in conservatism?

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"I would like us to get the smile back," Sen. Kevin Cramer said in a recent interview.

"I mean, we still are the greatest experiment in political world history. Self-governance requires people of virtue, as Os Guinness puts it, and our virtue needs to be demonstrated in our personalities, not just in our ideals. If I grieve anything, it’s that we’ve become too angry," he continued.

How does Cramer square that statement with his staunch support for former President Donald Trump, a man famous for his incessant ridicule of his critics?

He'll talk about it on this episode of Plain Talk.


Also, the Biden administration seems intent on facilitating the fossil fuel aspirations of nations who aren't so friendly with us - lifting sanctions for Russia's Nord Stream 2 pipeline and Iran's oil exports - even as it works to fight energy development here in the United States.

Though, in fairness, Biden's EPA administrator Michael Regan just visited North Dakota and had a lot of encouraging things to say about the state's big bets on carbon capture.

Can this administration be worked with on energy?

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About the Podcast

Plain Talk is a podcast hosted by blogger and columnist Rob Port focusing on political news and current events in North Dakota. Host Rob Port writes, North Dakota’s most popular and influential political blog, and is a columnist for the Forum News Service published in papers including the Fargo Forum, Grand Forks Herald, Jamestown Sun, Minot Daily News, and the Dickinson Press.

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Rob Port, founder of, a North Dakota political blog, is a Forum Communications commentator.