Moreover, Heitkamp is a loyal supporter of the oil, gas and coal industries, especially including the drilling of shale formations with hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. She has a good relationship with the American Petroleum Institute, which seated her at the head table of its annual press event the first week she was in office. She backs the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would run through her state if it got back on track. She pressed successfully for the lifting of the oil export ban, important for oil producers in the Bakken field in the western part of her state, and for extending tax credits for wind and solar.
Heitkamp is also a strong supporter of carbon capture and storage, which would capture carbon dioxide emissions from industrial and power plants and store the gas, whether by burying it in the ground or using it in an industrial product. So far, such efforts have failed to come up with a way to do that economically or on a large scale. The Energy Department has been funding some research.
But Heitkamp is a co-sponsor of a bill that would expand a current provision in the tax code designed to subsidize carbon capture and storage. The other co-sponsors include liberal Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and eight Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.).
Heitkamp would not tell reporters on Capitol Hill Thursday whether she would accept a post in a Trump administration, calling that question “way too premature.” But she issued a statement saying she hoped to work with Trump to support North Dakota “[w]hatever job I do” — an acknowledgment that she might end up with a job other than the one she has now.
“Whenever the president-elect asks you to come to visit with him, it’s a wonderful opportunity to talk about mutual goals and mutual aspirations for our country,” she told reporters after a Senate vote Thursday. “Rural America is a high priority, I would think, for the new administration, so I’m anxious to talk about some ideas to revitalize and create economic opportunities in rural America.”
Heitkamp added that she and Trump “have a completely different life story, and I think that that’s an opportunity to talk about what it is to grow up in a community of 90 people and come to this place and talk about good old common sense North Dakota values.”
Heitkamp will be the second congressional Democrat to meet with Trump since he won the election. The other was Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) on Nov. 21.
Separately Thursday, a Politico report said another Senate Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, was under consideration for energy secretary.
Manchin is a leading champion of the coal industry and the loudest Democratic critic of Obama administration environmental regulations that have affected it. But a Manchin aide said the senator has had no contact with the Trump transition and that no meeting is set with the president-elect.
“If I can do anything to help my state of West Virginia, and my country, I will talk with anyone about ways to do that,” Manchin said in a statement issued by his office.
Mike DeBonis and Ed O’Keefe contributed to this report.