Governor Kristi Noem held her first news conference of the 2019 legislative session Friday.
On her budget plan, she said:
“We’re putting the final touches on it, making some decisions in the next few days and over the beginning of the next week. So I don’t have a specific date.”
On her plan to transition state vehicles to E-30 blended fuel:
“My goal is to bring every vehicle into compliance with E-30 and utilizing E-30. We are putting together a plan talking with the ethanol industry putting together a plan on how that works with vehicles. Their warranties might be at issue. What we need to do is make sure we have E-30 available at DOT stations so that those state vehicles can utilize the fuel and it’s readily available, so having tanks and infrastructure in place will be very important to get this off the ground.”
“We would have to switch out that fuel in some of the storage units that we have, and in some areas if you wanted to have different varieties of fuel, it wouldn’t be an opportunity today. That will have to be something that we will be looking at, giving direction from the governor’s office, to DOT and the state fleet, that is possible, and making sure that those vehicles that can utilize it will be immediately.
“But my goal is to have every single state fleet vehicle utilizing it. I know some of them, their warranties don’t recommend it, but history has shown us that that is not necessarily based on facts.
“And so the partnership that we need to have with the ethanol industry, I think we’ll be very innovative, and I’m expecting other states to want to follow our example. We really could be leading the nation in utilizing E-30 for our entire state fleet, and that’s my intention.”
On expanding eligibility for Medicaid:
“I’m not in favor of expanding Medicaid, but we have ways we can be innovative in healthcare for our tribes.”
On the federal Indian Health Service:
“I think everybody who knows me, knows I am not a fan of IHS. I think they’re a terrible federal organization. They’re literally killing our people.”
On the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and the 2017 state law that restricts protests:
“I support a peaceful build, and we will protect people. We will protect people and their rights throughout the process, and also our water and the environment. So we will make sure that we are being very proactive on this, when this build starts to happen and as it’s going forward.
“We are starting to have conversation with Keystone and TransCanada officials, making sure that we’re prepared as well and they’re part of the conversation on how we do this. I want to make sure that our South Dakota residents are protected and this is done peacefully. We will give them every opportunity to utilize their rights, but we will make sure the build is clean, efficient and protecting our environment and water, as well.”
Noem said she supports the Keystone project:
“Absolutely. It is something we have coming through our state and now my job is to make sure we do it efficiently, and we do it in a way that protects people, water and our environment.”
On the protest-restrictions law:
“I’ve asked my staff to review it with me and we’ll be having those conversations. But our constitution guarantees us the right to peaceful protests, and that is something we will certainly honor here in our state.”