Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak outlined her priorities in ensuring affordable energy and safe energy transmission Monday morning as she launched her first campaign for statewide office.
With her family at her side Fedorchak told supporters inside a packed North Dakota Republican Party headquarters of her appreciation for her appointment last year by the governor.
“Today I’m here to ask the public to affirm the governor’s choice,” Fedorchak said.
Fedorchak is running to complete the final two years of former commissioner Kevin Cramer’s term. Cramer left his seat last year after being elected to Congress.
By state law a person appointed to an elected state office must run for election in the next general election.
Along with maintaining affordable energy, Fedorchak outlined four additional campaign priorities Monday.
Her other priorities were to work on reducing flaring of natural gas, examine the state’s pipeline safety programs, improve public transparency in PSC activities and maintain the department’s efficiency.
Fedorchak said the PSC is beginning to look at whether or not the state should move toward having a say in the regulation of pipelines within the state.
“We really are serious about looking at that,” Fedorchak said.
The decision to re-evaluate the PSC’s role in regulating intra-state pipelines came after the September oil spill from a Tesoro Corp. pipeline near Tioga that spewed more than 20,600 barrels of crude.
Fedorchak said any decision to take on more regulatory authority would require more research into the issue and discussions with the governor. Approval from the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration also would be needed.
“Does it make sense for us … or not?” Fedorchak said.
With 20 years of experience in both the public and private sector, Fedorchak said she brings a unique perspective to the office.
Prior to her PSC appointment Fedorchak served as state director for Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and before that as his deputy state director.
Fedorchak also spent 10 years as president of Liffrig Communications. One of the largest projects she was involved in was helping write the first two comprehensive energy plans as part of the Empower North Dakota initiative.
Earlier in her career she also served as communications director and senior policy adviser for former Republican Gov. Ed Schafer.
No other candidates from any political party have yet announced their intent to run for the PSC.
Two PSC seats will be on the November 2014 ballot. The seat held by PSC Chairman Brian Kalk also is up for election for a full six-year term