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Fargo’s Working to Make Every Day Earth Day. North Dakota Not So Much

One one hand, North Dakota is known for a fairly harsh environment with weather extremes and for higher than average per capita energy use and emissions. When compared with our Minnesota neighbors and other states with effective energy efficiency programs we pale in comparison. Just this week a national rating service Wallethub rated North Dakota 47th in the country for energy efficiency.
Most Environmentally Friendly States

Overall Rank
(1=Greenest)
State Total Score ‘Environmental Quality’ Rank ‘Eco-Friendly Behaviors’ Rank ‘Climate-Change Contributions’ Rank
1 Vermont 75.48 1 1 23
2 Oregon 74.23 3 2 20
3 Massachusetts 72.63 5 10 3
4 New York 72.11 4 19 2
5 South Dakota 70.54 6 5 11
6 Minnesota 69.46 2 14 16
7 Connecticut 68.99 9 22 1
8 New Hampshire 68.49 10 18 5
9 California 67.52 43 3 4
10 Rhode Island 66.68 7 28 6
11 Maine 66.63 13 4 17
12 Nevada 64.83 33 8 7
13 New Jersey 63.42 36 12 9
14 Wisconsin 63.40 8 29 13
15 Idaho 63.35 23 11 12
16 Hawaii 62.82 28 7 10
17 Washington 62.65 12 9 22
18 Maryland 62.19 38 16 8
19 Delaware 60.43 25 21 14
20 Michigan 60.38 11 35 19
21 Colorado 56.45 26 15 33
22 North Carolina 56.25 19 32 21
23 Tennessee 56.07 21 41 18
24 Georgia 55.74 18 27 27
25 Pennsylvania 55.17 17 24 32
26 Illinois 55.15 15 31 30
27 Missouri 54.85 14 42 28
28 Arizona 54.79 42 17 25
29 South Carolina 54.27 31 43 15
30 New Mexico 53.13 39 6 36
31 Iowa 52.99 16 20 40
32 Nebraska 52.87 34 25 31
33 Montana 52.35 44 13 29
34 Florida 51.70 24 39 35
35 Virginia 51.05 40 38 24
36 Alaska 50.79 22 36 37
37 Ohio 49.91 46 30 26
38 Kansas 49.77 29 23 41
39 Utah 48.89 30 34 39
40 Mississippi 45.35 20 45 43
41 Arkansas 44.99 45 44 34
42 Indiana 44.60 27 46 42
43 Texas 44.05 48 33 38
44 Oklahoma 40.82 47 40 44
45 Wyoming 40.44 35 37 46
46 Alabama 40.22 32 48 45
47 North Dakota 39.72 37 26 48
48 Kentucky 31.71 50 47 47
49 Louisiana 26.03 49 49 49
50 West Virginia 25.08 41 50 50

Fargo on the other hand, has been recognized for years as a national leader for innovative energy saving and revenue producing conservation efforts earning the designation by the Earth Day Network as the country’s most environmental city in 2007. Most recently, efargo was one of over 50 cities competing for the 2 year Georgetown University Energy Prize. 
Some good news is Geronimo Energy’s 200 MGW solar array in Cass County could provide the city of Fargo with another great renewable energy source to help us reach our efargo goal of being carbon neutral by 2050. Geronimo Energy announced these plans at last years Renewable Energy and Conservation presentation. Local resiliency leaders shared Fargo’s conservation projects and introduction by our grass roots group Citizens Leading Energy Action Network C.L.E.A.N. led by Ed Gruchalla and Paul Jensen.
As the sharing economy is becoming more prevalent, some of us have been working on a feasibility study for allocating some of the new solar and available wind power to Fargo. One way to start this could be allocating offsite renewable power for a pilot hybrid smart meter project that would include: smart chargers, electric car sharing project (EVs to GO) that would help shave peak energy costs, reduce congestion and emissions, store electricity, and add another transportation option that compliments Matbus, Great Rides Bikeshare, carpooling, and walking.  We learned about a similar system at Vulkan 5 in Oslo on our Smart Innovations Learning Tour to Norway in February that I helped coordinate with our eSmart Systems friend Henrik Bache and others.
Photo below. This mixed use residents/commercial/parking development uses mostly renewable energy, has smart EV car charging, and smart meters for the residences to reduce energy use and save money. Norway has a goal to be carbon neutral by 2030 and now a full 50% of new cars purchased are electric.
Here’s an earlier editorial about our efargo team led by Bush Fellow, Young Architect of the Year, and Nominee for YWCA Woman of the Year Malini Srivastava and students and community partners winning the 2 year national competition for the Georgetown University Energy Prize.

Editorial: Fargo’s ‘green city’ efforts save energy and money

The city of Fargo and its partners in conservation have been working hard for years to increase efficiencies and curb energy use. Their comprehensive efforts were recently recognized when they won the $5 million Georgetown University Energy Prize, a two-year competition between 50 semifinalist cities throughout the nation. Over the two years, the city and its residents saved an estimated $2 million in energy costs. That’s tangible evidence of the benefits of energy conservation, which is too easy to dismiss as the lofty aim of do-gooders. It’s all the more remarkable considering that North Dakota consistently ranks at or near the bottom of states in energy efficiency.
Fargo began working in 2014 with its partners—North Dakota State University, the North Dakota Department of Commerce, Xcel Energy and Cass County Electric Cooperative—to form the partnership, called eFargo. But the conservation collaborations evident in Fargo’s winning effort can trace their lineage back years, some instigated by former City Commissioner Mike Williams.

The stench from the city landfill, for instance, prompted city officials in 2009 to turn methane gas into electricity, and convert sewage into water suitable for industrial use. That effort was estimated to contribute $2 million a year to city coffers. Every day, the city treats about 12 million gallons of wastewater. Now up to two million gallons of water per day, once discharged into the Red River, is piped to an ethanol plant in Casselton, earning a profit for the city and reducing the use of groundwater.
Since 2002, the city worked to replace incandescent street light bulbs with energy-efficient LED bulbs, which now illuminate all traffic lights and 85 percent of pedestrian traffic lights, saving $30,000 per year. Similarly, the MATBUS fleet uses biofuel blends and runs eight hybrids to save fuel and therefore reduce emissions. Altogether, city generation from methane, solar power and wind over the years has produced 57.1 million kilowatt hours—impressive, considering 1 kilowatt hour will power a 100-watt light bulb for 10 hours. The landfill methane generator produces enough energy to power 700 homes every day.
The eFargo collaboration builds upon that foundation. Among other steps, it resulted in creation of a website that provides tips, data and games, including an evil character, Waste-A-Watt, to encourage energy efficiency and conservation. Students are a major focus of the effort, since they live where most energy is consumed—homes constitute 85 percent of Fargo’s energy use. The efforts saved the equivalent of 50.4 megawatts of power.

Fargo has long prided itself on being a “green city.” The $5 million prize will help spur further efforts that will make the city even greener. Malini Srivastava, a professor at NDSU and leader of the project, hopes to use the prize money to work toward a net-zero carbon future for the Fargo-Moorhead metro area. One of the criteria that enabled Fargo to win the competition was the replicability of its strategies. We should spread the green; more communities would do well to follow Fargo’s lead.
Editorials represent the views of Forum management and the Editorial Board.
~ End Article~
Fargo has made some solid progress building on good work by many proving conservation saves and pays. While it’s good to be recognized as an environmental leader nationally, we have much more work to do to protect our environment and natural resources. Let’s work together to vastly improve our stewardship of the only home we have, planet earth. After all, it’s in our hands. 

Great Rides Bikeshare Leading Austin TX and Others to Better Bike Systems

Since our Great Rides Bikeshare record breaking launch in 2015 (awarded nations most rides per bike per day three years running) we’ve met with the leaders of Bikeshare around the country at B-Cycle World and received inquiries and had discussions with cities and Universities over the years. We’ve been open and eager to share our innovative student led, easy access model.
Cool to see Austin TX is another system we’ve worked with that has adopted our model to help reduce campus congestion and add value and their ridership is exploding!
So fun to see our student led, innovative Great Rides Bikeshare model that took us from 2011 – 2014 to develop, gain student support along with strong community sponsors is now helping lead the nations bikeshares toward easier to use and more robust systems.
We’ve been delivering on the demand for sharing economy solutions to reduce transportation costs and congestion and having a positive national impact.
Let’s keep making it a Great Ride!
Mike
Here’s a quote from the article:“Some people were looking at Fargo as if is this an outlier, a one-off,” he said. “I think what we’re showing is, no, if you integrate a campus system with a larger city system — if you remove some of those barriers, this can really work.”
PlacesForBikes helps U.S. communities buil
First in a series of profiles of the Big Jump Project’s 10 focus areas. Central Austin seems to have everything: a massive research university, the world’s biggest annual media festival and one of the country’s strongest local job-creation engines. But when a city sees so much success, it runs …
peopleforbikes.org

Campus bike sharing in the United States seems to have hit a new high water mark on the flagship campus of the University of Texas.
Forty days after launching a free pilot program for UT students with 85 new bikes to serve them, Austin B-Cycle says it’s on track to more than double the ridership of its entire 530-bike system.
Austin Active Transportation Program Manager Laura Dierenfield said 7,800 students have registered for the program so far — 15 percent of the UT campus’s entire student body.
“We were hoping for, like, 3,000 for the life of the pilot in the first 18 months,” Dierenfield said. “We had twice that in the first week.”
Students aren’t just signing up for the free program, either. They’re biking. In the program’s first 40 days, the campus bike docks averaged 12 checkouts per bike per day.
For comparison’s sake, the average New York Citi Bike is ridden five to six times per day during the spring.
“It’s been increasing in general because the weather’s getting even nicer,” Austin B-Cycle Director Elliott McFadden said. “We have 11 campus-area stations, and they are the top 11 stations in our system now.”

UT’s rapid embrace of bike sharing already puts the campus in striking distance of ridership at maybe the nation’s most successful university-linked bike share system, at North Dakota State University in Fargo, N.D. During that system’s season, its 100 bikes average 13 checkouts per day.
“We’re close to their kind of usage, and that took them about six months to get there,” McFadden said. (NDSU’s program is also free for students to join, paid for out of student services fees.)

Oil and Coal Subsidies/incentives Are Baked Into Pseudo US Energy “Market”

A recent blog featured in the Forum Opinions page erroneously stated the Production Tax Credit for wind energy is (as he states it in the article) a “Completely perverse 23 cents kwh”.  This is simply not true, the PTC before 12-31-16 was 0.023 or 2.3 cents/kwh and now it’s 0.0184 or 1.8 cents/kwh.
Here is that information from the Energy.gov site:
Applying the inflation-adjustment factor for the 2016 calendar year, the production tax credit amount is as follows:

  • $0.023/kWh for wind, closed-loop biomass, geothermal energy resources, and solar systems that have not claimed the Investment Tax Credit
  • $0.012/kWh for open-loop biomass, landfill gas, municipal solid waste, qualified hydroelectric, and marine and hydrokinetic energy resources

The tax credit is phased down for wind facilities and expires for other technologies commencing construction after December 31, 2016. The phase-down for wind facilities is described as a percentage reduction in the tax credit amount described above:

  • For wind facilities commencing construction in 2017, the PTC amount is reduced by 20%
  • For wind facilities commencing construction in 2018, the PTC amount is reduced by 40%
  • For wind facilities commencing construction in 2019, the PTC amount is reduced by 60%

Note that the exact amount of the production tax credit for the tax years 2017-2019 will depend on the inflation-adjustment factor used by the IRS in the respective tax years.
~End Chart ~
The misinformation campaigns about our current energy “Markets” such as the PTC being 23 cents is having a detrimental effect to renewable energy projects in North Dakota. Recently Xcel Energy announced they wanted to install another 300 mgw of wind production in South Dakota. They have plans for more projects that combine natural gas peaking with wind generation. Instead of throwing up obstacles, a welcoming atmosphere for these projects would help North Dakotans benefit by becoming a renewable energy leader.
The PTC subsidies are being reduced even though they are a fraction of those coal and oil subsidies that have been developed and ingrained in the skewed energy “Market” for over a century. Reducing the PTC while wind, solar, and geothermal are produced at scale at a lower cost per unit of energy produced could be a good strategy as long as we also recognize and reduce subsidies ingrained in our country’s policies for fossil fuels.
Here are some research statistics from Oil Change International in an article by Vox writer David Roberts:

fossil fuel subsidies(OSI)

You probably can’t read that text, so here are the top six:

  • Intangible drilling oil & gas deduction ($2.3 billion)
  • Excess of percentage over cost depletion ($1.5 billion)
  • Master Limited Partnerships tax exemption ($1.6 billion)
  • Last-in, first-out (LIFO) accounting ($1.7 billion)
  • Lost royalties from onshore and offshore drilling ($1.2 billion)
  • Low-cost leasing of coal-production in the Powder River Basin ($963 million)

(I listed six because that sixth one is the biggie for coal.)

As subsidies age, they start to look less like subsidies. They start looking like fixed features of the landscape, like mountains or rivers, rather than choices we are making. They just look like the status quo.

How does this compare to renewable energy subsidies? In terms of permanent tax expenditures, fossil fuels beat renewables by a 7-1 margin:

energy subsidies(OCI)

(The primary federal tax supports for renewable energy — the investment and production tax credits, respectively — are not permanent. They are set to phase out over the next five years, and are politically vulnerable in the meantime. But if you include them, Stephen Kretzmann of OCI confirmed for me over email, permanent fossil tax breaks still win, at $7.4 billion to $5.6 billion.)

If you ask people in fossil fuel industries, their support staff in conservative think tanks, or fossil-state politicians, they will tell you why these fossil fuel production subsidies are necessary. It’s always been this way. They’re more than paid back by tax revenue. Other industries get them too. (For the record: More than half the $20 billion is available to fossil fuels alone). They create jobs. They’re important for national security. Tax expenditures aren’t subsidies at all, if you think about it. Etc.

Speaking of rent-seeking, here’s a final fun factoid from OCI:

In the 2015-2016 election cycle, oil, gas, and coal companies spent $354 million in campaign contributions and lobbying and received $29.4 billion in federal subsidies in total over those same years — an 8,200% return on investment.

Not bad.

                                                                       ~ End Article ~
Our country’s energy policies need to evolve beyond a system based on a century of oil and coal production in what has been and continues to be a skewed “market” that counter productively extends our country’s dependence on one time harvest fossil fuels. This while countries around the world and some states are embracing technology and cleaner renewable energy, storage, along with more efficient and resilient distributed energy systems now being developed close to Moores Law speed. There are already far more people employed in the solar industry field than in the coal industry and the renewable energy job market continues to grow. 
North Dakota is not moving forward if our state leaders and Public Service Commission continue to focus their efforts and our public money on extending our dependence and production of last century’s fuels with projects like the Allam Cycle that the developer can’t find banks to loan money for perhaps because banks recognize coal is a finite resource and not viable as a energy of the future.
Instead we could convert older coal plants to burn available natural gas that is currently being flared. This type of plant is more adaptive and interacts better with intermittent wind and solar generation. This would be a cleaner transitional step while we focus on helping develop energy storage systems and distributed energy.
A solid path forward is embracing technology and helping develop and use cleaner renewable energy and storage solutions that will help make North Dakota an energy leader into the future.

We New Arrivals in Fargo Honor Indigenous People’s Day

Love this day to honor the people and cultures that lived here thousands of years before we immigrants moved here.
Proud that Fargo is a city that celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day thanks to wonderful community work by our Native American Commission. Time magazines list left us and some other cities off their list today. 
People around the world are drawn to areas that are interesting, diverse, and respect for people is a driving force of the culture. Minnesota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Alaska recognize this day as Indigenous Peoples Day as a state. I ask that Governor Doug Burgum and our State Legislature to please help lead the way along with with those states and work to have North Dakota also designate this day to honor indigenous people.
Here’s a list of peer cities that recognize Indigenous Peoples Day from an article in Time Magazine.

Here Are The Cities That Celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day Instead of Columbus Day

Oct 08, 2017

Each year, more cities, states and universities opt to celebrate an alternative to Columbus Day: Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Instead of honoring Christopher Columbus, the Indigenous Peoples’ Day recognizes Native Americans, who were the first inhabitants of the land that later became the United States of America. Advocates for the switch to Indigenous Peoples Day argue that Columbus did not “discover” America in 1492 but instead began the colonization of it. For decades, Native American activists have advocated abolishing Columbus Day, which became a federal holiday in 1937.

This year, both Indigenous Peoples’ Day and Columbus Day are on Monday, Oct. 9.

While the United Nations declared August 9 as International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples in late 1994, Berkeley, Calif., had already become the first city in the U.S. to replace Columbus Day itself. The city’s decision was influenced by the First Continental Conference on 500 Years of Indian Resistance in Quito, Ecuador, in 1990, which spurred another Northern California conference that discussed similar issues and brought them to the Berkeley City Council, TIME has reported.

With the exception of Santa Cruz, Calif., and the state of South Dakota, which adopted the similar Native American Day in place of Columbus Day in 1990, the cities, states and universities that have chosen to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day instead have done so only recently, with cities like Minneapolis and Seattle voting to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day instead in 2014.

Which cities and states celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day?

States:

Cities:

Universities:

*Celebrates Native American Day.

**Celebrates both Indigenous Peoples Day and Columbus Day.

Why is Columbus Day so controversial now?

Critics of Columbus Day argue that the holiday does not celebrate the discovery of America, but instead honors the mass genocide and colonization of the people indigenous to the land.

“[Columbus] was one of the first Europeans to get to the American continent, but there was a lot of history that came after that in terms of the wiping out of native people,” Loni Hancock, the mayor of Berkeley in 1992 and former California state senator, told TIME in 2014. “It just didn’t seem appropriate. It seemed like a reemphasizing of history and recognizing that to be very ethnocentric really diminishes us all.”

What cities are considering celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead?

Several other cities are considering an alternative to Columbus Day, replacing celebrations of Columbus with that of indigenous people.

A member of Washington, D.C.’s city council proposed a bill to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio created a commission to assess the value of monuments of historical figures in public spaces in the city. That includes the monument honoring the Italian explorer in Columbus Circle near Central Park.

Just days before the 2017 holiday, the city council in Austin, Texas, voted to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

The town of Newcastle, Maine, is considering a change to follow the lead of a number of other cities in the state, though members of the town’s Board of Selectmen’s won’t vote on the matter until the 2017 holiday has passed.

Advocates for the switch have also voiced the desire for the change in Santa Barbara, Calif.Silver City, N.M. and Miami County, Kansas, among other cities.

GM Announces the Future Is All Electric, Let’s Ride the Wave!

Way to be data driven and embrace technology GM! I didn’t know that GM sold more vehicles in China 3.6 million (many electric two seaters) compared to 3 million vehicles in the US.
They’re joining a growing list of manufacturers around the world going electric and also working on self driving cars. We can prepare and ride the technology wave or be battered by it by denial and not planning for the future.
Here’s a segment of an article on the announcement from GM from Wired published 10-2-17:

“AFTER MORE THAN a century peddling vehicles that pollute the atmosphere, General Motors is ending its relationship with gasoline and diesel. This morning, the American automotive giant announced that it is working toward an all-electric, zero-emissions future. That starts with two new, fully electric models next year—then at least 18 more by 2023.

That product onslaught puts the company at the forefront of an increasingly large crowd of automakers proclaiming the age of electricity and promising to move away from gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles. In recent months, Volvo, Aston Martin, and Jaguar Land Rover have announced similar moves. GM’s declaration, though, is particularly noteworthy because it’s among the very largest automakers on the planet. It sold 10 million cars last year, ranging from pickups to SUVs to urban runabouts.

“General Motors believes the future is all-electric,” says Mark Reuss, the company’s head of product. “We are far along in our plan to lead the way to that future world.”

Reuss did not give a date for the death knell of the GM gas- or diesel-powered car, saying the transition will happen at different speeds in different markets and regions. The new all-electric models will be a mix of battery electric cars and fuel cell-powered vehicles.

 To be sure, GM’s sudden jolt of electricity is planned with its shareholders in mind. The Trump Administration may be moving to roll back fuel efficiency requirements in the US, but the rest of the world is insisting on an electric age. France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Norway have all said they plan to ban the sale of gas and diesel cars in the coming decades. More importantly, China—the world’s largest car market—and India, a rising star, plan to join them. No automaker can compete globally without a compelling stable of electric cars.”
                                                                                    ~End article~
GM is just one of many manufacturers that are embracing technology, being data driven, and moving on to electric vehicles and autonomous driving features.
Here is another piece from a Mashable article sharing information on a broad range of manufacturers transitioning to electric vehicles.
“A recent spate of announcements from the biggest names in the auto industry has put electric vehicle development front and center. Some carmakers have even pledged to release only all-electric or electrified vehicles — which include hybrid engines that run on electric power at least some of the time — by certain target dates.

If these promises come to bear, the next decade will see a major shift in production trends, bringing electric vehicles to the streets in unprecedented numbers. That shift has already started, with a wave of all-electric cars built for mass appeal like the Chevy BoltNissan Leaf, and Tesla Model 3 now available. The next few years will see even more growth in the EV space.
Since most major automakers have at least outlined plans for electrification, we’ve compiled a list of  where they stand on EVs and when we can expect to see the new cars out on the road.

  • GM said it plans to phase out gas-powered vehicles for an “all-electric future” but didn’t give an exact date for an all-EV line. The effort starts, however, with plans for 20 all-electric vehicles by 2023.
  • Ford created the EV-dedicated “Team Edison” to focus on the development of all-electric cars. The automaker also pledged to invest $4.5 billion over five years on new all-electric and hybrid vehicles, with 13 new models slated for release by 2023.
  • Toyota and Mazda recently announced that they’re teaming up with auto-parts manufacturer Senso to create a new company to develop basic EV technology for use across multiple vehicle types and models, expanding beyond Toyota’s Prius line. The two Japanese carmakers also pledged to build a $1.6 billion U.S.-based plant by 2021, where they’ll work on electric and hybrid vehicles.
  • Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benzwill invest $1 billion in an Alabama plant to produce all-electric SUVs and build a battery facility, and $10 billion in EV development overall. Mercedes-Benz outlined a plan to electrify its “entire portfolio” by 2022, offering 50 electric and hybrid models.
  • The Renault, Nissan, and Mitsubishi alliance will work together to develop new systems to use across their vehicle lines, with a focus on “purely electric” EVs like the Nissan Leaf. The automakers plan to release 12 all-electric models by 2022.
  • Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) plans to electrify its entire vehicle lineup by 2020, with new powertrains ranging from mild hybrid vehicles to all-electric systems.
  • Volvo will electrify its entire vehicle line by 2019, with five all-electric models slated to roll out from 2019 to 2021. The automaker hopes to sell one million of the electric and hybrid cars by 2025.
  • VW Group, parent of European automakers like Volkswagen, Audi, and Porschewill invest $84 billion in EV development. Roughly $60 billion of the total will be dedicated to battery production, but the company also plans to offer electric and hybrid versions of 300 vehicles by 2030.

ND Protecting Status Quo on Energy Limits Our States Energy Potential

ND is falling behind in some important categories while state leaders are spending money protecting the status quo in energy and oil profits for out of state companies.
Recently ND has ranked well for national rankings. Here’s a Commerce Dept post featuring one of these as 8th best state for business from last year.
If we’re going to feature the good ratings, perhaps we should also acknowledge and address the not so good ratings as well?
Forbes recent article ranks North Dakota in the bottom 10 states for innovation.  Here’s the article ranking North Dakota #5 in the bottom 10 states for innovation:
5. North Dakota: Some North Dakotans disagree vehemently with this list, with one Bismarck radio station calling the report “bullcrap.” Nevertheless, numbers don’t lie, and North Dakota got poor marks for AP exam participation (it ranked 51), venture-capital funding per capita (47) and share of technology companies (46). 
~End Article~
This while other states are being innovative and future ready working towards developing capacity embracing and applying technology to transition toward energies of the future.

This is the antithesis of being innovative, future ready, and data driven. We need to do better.
Here’s one idea: We have the potential and transmission to produce and deliver electricity (We produce 36 Megawatt hours and export 20 million MWH) produced by cleaner natural gas by revamping our coal plants to burn natural gas. Natural gas works better than coal as baseload power with intermittent renewables as NG can be ramped up and down quickly.
Here’s one example of a coal plant being converted to burn natural gas in Joliet Illinois.
This would extend ND’s viability as an energy exporter as we embrace technology and work to develop and improve our own great cleaner renewable energy resources.

Put Politics Aside and Use the Facts to Improve US Healthcare

Regarding the upcoming Senate vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act that has helped millions more Americans obtain health coverage regardless of preexisting conditions. Our country is at a competitive economic and social disadvantage with our failing market based, reactive health care system.
Senator John HoevenSenator Heidi Heitkamp, Congressman Kevin Cramer, and Governor Doug Burgum (I know you don’t vote, but you have weighed in), let’s make North Dakota a leader by being data driven on our country’s common goal for better healthcare. It’s past time to put politics aside and work together to use the vast verifiable information that is constantly updated and improved.
Instead of repeal that would set us back, let’s build on positive attributes of the Affordable Care Act. Identify and remove what doesn’t work, insert proven methods from other countries that have lower cost and better health outcomes, and move forward.

Please consider: Our market based, reactive health care system has higher per capita costs (Almost $10,000 per person in 2016) We have the highest percentage cost of GDP
Please consider: The US has poorer health outcomes than countries with universal health care systems
 
Please consider: High medical costs are the number one reason for bankruptcies in our country. 

Let’s put the data to work to transition to a universal healthcare system that is proven to be more efficient, with lower costs, universal access, and better health outcomes.
 
 

Give ND a Boost With Electric Charges

ND produces a lot of oil and electricity. We pump the oil, export it to refining states (along with a lot of the profits) then import it back as gasoline and products. The going rate for a gallon of gas here is $2.20 today. The gallon equivalent cost of .75 cents for charging an electric vehicle.
ND produces 36 million KWH of electricity and exports 20 million of that. $7.5 M is ND’s allocation of the VW legal settlement that can only be used for clean alternative fuels and vehicles. Just 15% of that could fund 3 cross state EV fast charging corridors and help establish more use of electric vehicles. Thanks to all the people that came to our C.L.E.A.N. Teams event and for the folks that brought their EV’s to let us kick the tires. 
We had a segment on KFGO radio Wednesday with more information on EV charging, Geronimo Energy’s 200 MGW solar project in Cass County along with their 200 MGW wind project also in Cass County being developed. Listen to interview by Joel Heitkamp.
Also a nice clip on WDAY with Mayor Mahoney showing some of the Tesla features here.
 
 

Wait for SCOTUS Vote Until Trump/Russian Investigation Concludes

Approving a Supreme Court Justice is one of the most important responsibilities a President has. North Dakota’s Senators Hoeven and Heitkamp and Congressman Cramer have all stated they will approve Mr. Gorsuch to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Regardless of Mr. Gorsuch’s qualifications, I do not believe it is in the best interest of our country for Congress to hold a vote on this crucial matter while this important investigation of the legality of Trump/Russian relationships before and since the election.
Thanks to the Washington Post for this article that highlights and gives timelines for the wide ranging relationships and encounters between President Trump and his staff and advisers with Russian government and businesses over decades before and after the election.  Full story online here

Here’s what we know so far about Team Trump’s ties to Russian interests

Latest development

March 29, 2017 | The story of Sergei Millian, a Belarusan-American businessman, illustrates the challenge confronting the FBI as it seeks to separate fact from fiction. While some of the unproven claims attributed to him are bizarre, there are indications he had contacts with Trump’s circle. Read more

PEOPLE INVOLVED

Millian
Trump
Putin

Congress and U.S. intelligence agencies are scrutinizing connections between Russia and the Trump campaign as they investigate evidence that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. Here are members of Team Trump who are known to have Russian connections and the story lines that have made those ties relevant.

TEAM TRUMP RUSSIAN TIES DonaldTrumpPaulManafortMichaelFlynnCarterPageJeffSessionsJaredKushnerDonaldTrump Jr.RexTillersonWilburRossRogerStoneJ.D.GordonMichaelCaputoRickGatesVladimirPutinRussianbusinessinterestsSergeyKislyakIgorSechinRussianhackersSergey N.GorkovMichaelCohenFelixSaterSergeiMillianGeorgePapadopoulosAndrii V.Artemenko
Jump to a person
Donald Trump
Paul Manafort
Ret. Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn
Carter Page
Jeff Sessions
Jared Kushner
Donald Trump Jr.
Rex Tillerson
Wilbur Ross
Roger Stone
J.D. Gordon
Michael Caputo
Rick Gates
Michael Cohen
George Papadopoulos
Vladimir Putin
Russian business interests
Sergey Kislyak
Igor Sechin
Russian hackers
Sergey N. Gorkov
Felix Sater
Sergei Millian
Andrii V. Artemenko

Team Trump

Donald Trump

President of the United States and real estate developer. His business contacts in Russia date to the late 1980s.

RUSSIAN TIES (HOVER FOR MORE INFO)

Millian
Putin
Sater
Russian business
Kislyak
Artemenko

TIMELINE

1987 | Trump visits Moscow and tours various sites in an effort to strike real estate deals in Soviet-era Russia. He stays in a hotel overlooking the Kremlin, and tells Playboy that Russian jets escorted his own on the way to the airport. Read more

1996 | Trump says he will hold a press conference with a Miami-based tobacco company in Moscow announcing plans to build an office and apartment complex similar to Trump Tower in New York. Read more

2005 | Trump gave the development company Bayrock a one-year deal to find a site for a Trump Tower. Felix Sater later testified that he identified a former pencil factory as a site for the project, before the deal fell apart. Read more

Nov. 9, 2013 | While in Moscow for his Miss Universe competition, Trump meets with Russian businessmen, including real estate developer Aras Agalarov, an ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin. Before the pageant, Trump said to MSNBC, “I do have a relationship” with Putin. Read more

May 2014 | Trump tells a group at the National Press Club that while he was in Moscow, he spoke with Putin “indirectly and directly.”

July 2015 | At a town hall in Las Vegas, Trump tells an audience that he knew Putin. “I don’t think you’d need the sanctions. I think that we would get along very, very well,” he said. Read more

September 2015 | Putin and Trump are on the season premiere of “60 Minutes.” Although Trump would later say in a debate, “I got to know him very well because we were both on ’60 Minutes.’ We were stablemates,” Time magazine revealed that they were interviewed in separate cities. Read more

December 2015 | Putin says Trump is “colorful” and “talented.” Trump calls the compliment an “honor.” Even as ties to Russia become a campaign issue in 2016, Trump refuses to renounce Putin: “A guy calls me a genius, and I’m going to renounce? I’m not going to renounce him.” (Putin has not publicly called Trump a genius.) Read more

April 2016 | Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak attends a speech in Washington in which Trump vows to seek better relations with Russia. The president of the think tank that invited Kislyak said he introduced the two in a receiving line. Read more

July 2016 | In news conferences and tweets, Trump says he has “nothing to do with Russia,” and “I don’t know who Putin is. … I’ve never spoken to him.” He also tweeted, “For the record, I have ZERO investments in Russia.” Trump has not released his tax returns, so that can’t be verified. At the same time, at a news conference, Trump encouraged the Russians to hack Hillary Clinton’s email. Read more

Nov. 10, 2016 | Two days after the election, a Russian official tells a reporter in Moscow that the Kremlin had been in contact with Trump’s campaign. Trump spokesperson Hope Hicks denies it, saying, “There was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign.” Read more

Jan. 20, 2017 | Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. He designates the day as “National Day of Patriotic Devotion.” Read more

Jan. 28, 2017 | President Trump and Putin speak on the phone for an hour. Read more

March 2017 | One of Trump’s personal lawyers, Marc E. Kasowitz, is named to the legal team defending Russia’s largest state-run bank in a corporate-raiding case, BuzzFeed reports. Read more

Paul Manafort

A political consultant and lobbyist and former Trump campaign chairman, Manafort was also a former business associate of Rick Gates and Roger Stone. Manafort was involved in a couple of million-dollar investment deals with oligarchs linked to Putin. He also advised former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who fled to Russia in 2014.

RUSSIAN TIES

Russian business

TIMELINE

2005 | For nearly a decade starting in 2005, Manafort worked for people with ties to the party of Putin ally and Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych — and for the party itself — in a successful effort to remake Yanukovych’s image and return him to the presidency. Read more

2006 | Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, who has close ties to Putin, becomes Manafort’s client. He invests in Manafort’s Cayman Islands fund, which bought assets primarily in Ukraine and Russia. (Later in court, Deripaska accuses Manafort and Rick Gates of defrauding him out of $19 million.) Read more

2006 | Manafort signs a $10 million annual contract with Deripaska to secretly advance the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to an Associated Press report. He also proposed a strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition in former Soviet republics. Before the March 2017 story, Manafort and the Trump administration had said Manafort never worked for Russian interests. Read more

2008 | Manfort and associate Rick Gates partner on a Park Avenue project with oligarch Dmitry Firtash, but the project falls apart. Read more

March 2016 | Trump hires Manafort as senior adviser and he becomes de facto campaign manager on June 20. Although Manafort said he had cut his ties with Yanukovych’s party in 2014, colleagues in Kiev and Moscow said he continued to work for the party and did not officially close his business in Kiev until April 2016. Read more

Aug. 19, 2016 | Manafort, whose role at this point had been eclipsed by Stephen K. Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, resigns after a New York Times story alleges that he received $12.7 million in secret cash payments from Yanukovych’s party between 2005 and 2012. Read more

March 21, 2017 | A Ukrainian lawmaker releases documents alleging that Manafort laundered payments from Yanukovych’s party using offshore accounts in Belize and Kyrgyzstan. Manafort denied receiving those payments. Read more

March 24, 2017 | Paul Manafort volunteers to be interviewed before the House Intelligence Committee on Russia ties, says Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.). Read more

Ret. Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn

Former national security adviser and former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Flynn resigned as the NSC head after The Washington Post reported that he misled Vice President Mike Pence and others on the true nature of his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, saying he had not privately discussed U.S. sanctions.

RUSSIAN TIES

Putin
Sater
Russian business
Kislyak

TIMELINE

2013 | Flynn meets Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on a trip to Moscow. Read more

Dec. 10, 2015 | Flynn is paid more than $45,000 by Russian-government-backed RT for his participation in a Moscow panel honoring the news agency. At a related gala, he sat at the table of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Also in 2015, he was paid more than $22,000 by Russia-related entities for two speeches in Washington. Read more

Before Nov. 8, 2016 | Flynn contacts Kislyak, according to Post reporting. It’s not clear how often they communicated or what was discussed. Read more

December 2016 | Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, Flynn and Kislyak meet at Trump Tower for 20 minutes. This was just before the Obama administration sanctioned Russia for interfering in the 2016 election. Read more

Dec. 29, 2016 | Flynn places five phone calls to Kislyak, who was being monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies. The same day, President Obama announces the sanctions. Putin chooses not to retaliate. Read more

Jan. 12, 2017 | Post columnist David Ignatius reveals that conversations took place between Flynn and Kislyak. On Jan. 15, Vice President Mike Pence says on “Face the Nation” that Flynn had assured him that he and Kislyak did not discuss sanctions. Read more

Jan. 24, 2017 | Flynn tells FBI interviewers that he did not discuss sanctions with Kislyak, contradicting transcripts from intelligence officials who monitored the calls. Two days later, acting attorney general Sally Q. Yates tells the White House counsel that Flynn had discussed sanctions and could be vulnerable to blackmail by Russia. Trump fired Yates Jan. 30 for refusing to enforce his travel ban. Read more

Feb. 8, 2017 | Flynn tells a Post reporter that he did not discuss sanctions with Kislyak. The next day, he waffles; a spokesman says Flynn “couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up.” Also that day, Pence learns from a Post story that the White House knew in January that Flynn and Kislyak had discussed sanctions. Read more

Feb. 13, 2017 | Flynn is fired after news reports revealed that he misled Pence. Read more

March 7, 2017 | Flynn files paperwork to register as a foreign agent because of lobbying work potentially benefitting Turkey. Days later it is revealed that his lawyers twice alerted the White House counsel during the transition that Flynn may need to register, meaning the nation’s top national security voice was also being paid to represent the interests of a another country. Read more

March 28, 2017 | The Post reports that the Trump administration unsuccessfully tried to block Yates from testifying in a House Intelligence Committee hearing after her lawyer told the Justice Department that her testimony would probably contradict statements by White House officials. Committee chair and former Trump adviser Devin Nunes canceled the hearing. Read more

Carter Page

Former foreign policy adviser for the Trump campaign, energy executive and oil industry consultant. Page had worked in Moscow for years as a vice president with Merrill Lynch and made recent trips to Russia.

RUSSIAN TIES

Russian business
Kislyak

TIMELINE

2004-2007 | Page runs the Moscow office of Merrill Lynch. He said he advised the state-run energy conglomerate Gazprom and other energy companies. However, Page’s then-supervisor said Page’s role was to execute deals rather than to negotiate or advise on them. Read more

March 2016 | Page is hired by the Trump team. In an interview with Bloomberg News, he says he owns shares of Gazprom and that his stock portfolio had suffered since the United States and Europe imposed economic sanctions on Russia. Read more

July 7, 2016 | Page gives a speech critical of U.S. policy on a Moscow trip that had been approved by Trump’s campaign manager on the condition that Page not formally represent the campaign. Read more

July 18, 2016 | Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak speaks with Page and campaign adviser J.D. Gordon following a panel at the Republican National Convention, where Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) had also met Kislyak. Read more

Sept. 26, 2016 | Page leaves the campaign after reports that during his Moscow visit, he had met with Igor Sechin, head of state-owned Russian oil giant Rosneft, and other high-ranking Russian officials. Page denied meeting “any of those guys.” Read more

Jeff Sessions

Attorney general. The former senator from Alabama and early Trump supporter recused himself from investigations related to the 2016 campaign after The Post found that, contrary to statements he made in his confirmation hearing, he had met with the Russian ambassador twice during the campaign.

RUSSIAN TIES

Kislyak

TIMELINE

July 18, 2016 | Sessions speaks with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at a panel hosted by the Heritage Foundation at the Republican National Convention. Read more

Sept. 8, 2016 | Sessions and Kislyak meet in his Senate office.

Jan 10, 2017 | In a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Sessions’s nomination to serve as attorney general, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) asks about a CNN report on Russian ties to the Trump campaign that had come out that day. During Sessions’s answer, he says, “I did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it.” Read more

Jan. 17, 2017 | Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) asks Sessions in a letter: “Have you been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after Election Day?” Sessions responded, “no.” Read more

March 1, 2017 | The Post reveals Sessions’s two meetings with Kislyak. The next day, Sessions reverses his previous statements and — over Trump’s objection — says he will recuse himself from investigations related to the campaign. Read more

Jared Kushner

Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, New York real estate developer. Kushner’s circle of friends and business ties includes prominent Russians.

RUSSIAN TIES

Gorkov
Russian business
Kislyak

TIMELINE

2015 | Kushner, his brother and a friend start Cadre, a real estate company. Among its investors is Russian tech investor Yuri Milner. Read more

December 2016 | Kushner, Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak meet at Trump Tower for 20 minutes just as the Obama administration was preparing to sanction Russia, according to the New York Times. Kushner sent a deputy to another meeting that month. Later, at Kislyak’s request, Kushner met for about half an hour with Sergey N. Gorkov, chief of Vnesheconombank, which is on the U.S. sanctions list. Read more

Jan. 20, 2017 | Dasha Zhukova, wife of oligarch and Putin friend Roman Abramovich, attends the inauguration as a guest of Ivanka Trump.

March 27, 2017 | White House and Senate officials say Kushner will be available to interview with the Senate Intelligence Committee. Read more

Donald Trump Jr.

Trump’s eldest son. Trump Jr. is operating the family business while his father is in office.

RUSSIAN TIES

Sater
Russian business

TIMELINE

2006 | Felix Sater says he was asked by Donald Trump to escort Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. around Moscow in 2006. Read more

2008 | Trump tells a real estate conference, “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” according to trade publication eTurboNews. “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” Read more

October 2016 | Trump visits France to speak to an obscure think tank with ties to Russia.

March 17, 2017 | Reuters reports that 63 people with Russian passports or addresses have invested nearly $100 million in seven Trump properties in South Florida. Read more

March 20, 2017 | During the House hearing with FBI Director James B. Comey, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) says Trump Jr. has visited Russia six times.

Rex Tillerson

Secretary of state and former chief executive of ExxonMobil. Tillerson developed extensive ties in Russia during his tenure with the oil giant.

RUSSIAN TIES

Sechin
Putin
Russian business

TIMELINE

1998 | Tillerson is appointed head of Exxon Neftegas Limited, which was in charge of the U.S. part of the huge Sakhalin-1 oil and gas project off the coast of Siberia. Read more

2004 | Tillerson becomes president of ExxonMobil around the same time Igor Sechin takes control of Russian oil giant Rosneft, the company in charge of the Russian part of the Sakhalin-1 project.

2006 | Tillerson uses his relationship with Rosneft to fight off Gazprom, Russia’s largest gas producer, from exerting control over the export of gas from Sakhalin-1.

2011 | Tillerson and Sechin sign the first in a series of deals as part of a landmark “Strategic Cooperation Agreement” that involved drilling in the Russian Arctic and the Black Sea. The agreements led to Tillerson having several direct interactions with then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

April 2012 | Tillerson and Sechin, then deputy prime minister, go on a publicity tour touting the ExxonMobil-Rosneft cooperation.

June 2012 | Tillerson and Sechin are in attendance when Putin inaugurates a new presidential commission on fuel and energy and the three meet again in Moscow later that year. A video shows Putin and Tillerson toasting each other with champagne.

2013 | Tillerson is awarded the “Order of Friendship” by Putin. Read more

Wilbur Ross

Secretary of commerce and investor. Ross holds a stake in a bank in Cyprus that has prominent Russian investors.

RUSSIAN TIES

Russian business

TIMELINE

1990s | President Bill Clinton appointed Ross to the board of the U.S.-Russia Investment Fund, a USAID effort to bolster businesses in post-Cold-War Russia. Read more

February 2017 | In Ross’s confirmation hearing, senators ask about his stake in the Bank of Cyprus and his relationship with Russian shareholders, including Putin friend Viktor Vekselberg, who was once on oil giant Rosneft’s board of directors, and former KGB agent Vladimir Strzhalkovsky, a former vice chairman of the bank. Read more

Roger Stone

Longtime Trump friend, adviser and political consultant, former business partner of Paul Manafort. Stone claimed to have communicated indirectly with WikiLeaks before the website published emails that the intelligence community said were stolen by Russian agents.

RUSSIAN TIES

Russian hackers

TIMELINE

Aug. 10, 2016 | In a speech to a Florida Republican group, Stone said he’d been in contact with WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange through mutual friends. Read more

Aug. 21, 2016 | Stone tweets “Trust me, it will soon be Podesta’s time in the barrel,” referring to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. WikiLeaks released a trove of Podesta’s emails in October.

March 11, 2017 | Stone admits corresponding via Twitter on Aug. 14 with Guccifer 2.0, a hacker involved in the WikiLeaks releases. But Stone denies colluding with the Russians. Read more

J.D. Gordon

Former Trump campaign adviser. The Republican strategist resisted adding anti-Russia language in the GOP platform and met with Kislyak at the convention.

RUSSIAN TIES

Kislyak

TIMELINE

July 18, 2016 | Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak speaks with Page and campaign adviser J.D. Gordon following a panel at the Republican National Convention, where Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) had also met Kislyak. Read more

July 2016 | During the convention, a delegate’s proposal regarding U.S. support for Ukraine in its fight against Russian-backed rebels is softened before inclusion in the GOP platform. Campaign chairman Paul Manafort told NBC in August that the change “absolutely did not come from the campaign.” Read more

March 2017 | Gordon says that he had advocated for the Russia-friendly change in platform, believing it to match Trump’s views, and he had consulted about the matter with “campaign policy colleagues” before the convention.

Michael Caputo

Adviser to the Trump campaign for the New York primary. The public relations executive was once paid to improve Putin’s image in the United States.

RUSSIAN TIES

Putin
Russian business

TIMELINE

1994-2000 | Caputo moves to Russia shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union and is first employed by U.S. Agency for International Development. He then starts a public relations firm.

2000 | Caputo enters a contract with the Russian conglomerate Gazprom Media to improve Putin’s image in the United States. He told the Buffalo News that he was “not proud of the work today. But at the time, Putin wasn’t such a bad guy.” Read more

Rick Gates

Business associate of Manafort since 2006, Gates helped lead a nonprofit supporting Trump policies, America First. He took a leave of absence in March after The Washington Post reported on his business deals with Manafort.

RUSSIAN TIES

Russian business

TIMELINE

2006 | Gates joins Manafort’s firm the year oligarch Oleg Deripaska becomes a client. Deripaska invested in Manafort’s Cayman Islands fund that bought assets primarily in Ukraine and Russia. (Later, Deripaska accused Manafort and Gates in court of defrauding him out of $19 million.) Read more

2008 | Manfort and Gates partner on a Park Avenue project with oligarch Dmitry Firtash, but the project falls apart.

2012-2014 | Gates arranges introductions for two Washington lobbying firms — the Podesta Group and Mercury LLC — to represent the European Center for a Modern Ukraine.

2014 | In Washington, Manafort and Gates promote the policy priorities of the political party of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who fled to Russia.

March 2017 | In a brief interview with The Post, Gates describes his work as “supporting the private equity fund started by the firm and democracy building and party building in Ukraine.” Read more

March 23, 2017 | Gates was forced out of America First Policies for his ties to Manafort after the Associated Press reported that Manafort had worked for Russian government interests. Read more

Michael Cohen

Longtime Trump Organization lawyer who became personal counsel to the president following the inauguration. In late January, Cohen met with a Ukrainian lawmaker and agreed to ferry a Russian-backed peace plan for Ukraine to the White House. The New York Times reported Cohen said he left the plan in Flynn’s office days before Flynn resigned as national security adviser. Cohen told The Washington Post he threw the plan in the trash.

RUSSIAN TIES

Sater
Artemenko

TIMELINE

January 2017 | Felix Sater, Michael Cohen and Andrii V. Artemenko meet in a luxury hotel in Manhattan to discuss a peace deal for Ukraine that would have favored Russia. Sater later said he thought Cohen would hand the peace deal proposal to Flynn himself. Read more

George Papadopoulos

Sergei Millian, a key source for the “dossier” compiled by a former British spy, told certain individuals during the campaign that he was in touch with Papadopoulos, a campaign adviser. Papadopoulos met with foreign leaders and gave an interview criticizing U.S. sanctions on Russia.

RUSSIAN TIES

Millian

TIMELINE

March 21, 2016 | In a meeting with The Washington Post’s editorial board, Trump reveals that George Papadopoulos is one of his foreign policy advisers. Trump describes Papadopoulos as “an energy and oil consultant,” and says he’s “an excellent guy.” Read more

Russian ties

Vladimir Putin

Russian president who U.S. intelligence agencies believe personally ordered the interference into the 2016 election, including penetrating the Democratic National Committee’s computer systems and distributing fake news stories. Putin has consistently denied the allegations, calling the attacks a “political witch hunt.”

TIES TO TEAM TRUMP

Trump
Flynn
Tillerson
Caputo

Russian business interests

Historically, oligarchs have used relationships with foreign business leaders for political gain. The list of Russian businesspeople with whom Trump and his associates have relationships includes tech investor Yuri Milner, developer Aras Agalarov, aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, bank directors Viktor Vekselberg, Vladimir Strzhalkovsky and Sergey N. Gorkov, and Igor Sechin, head of the state-owned oil giant Rosneft, which is under U.S. sanctions.

TIES TO TEAM TRUMP

Trump
Manafort
Flynn
Page
Kushner
Trump Jr.
Tillerson
Ross
Caputo
Gates

Sergey Kislyak

Russian ambassador to the United States since 2008, a career diplomat not considered especially close to Putin.

TIES TO TEAM TRUMP

Trump
Flynn
Page
Sessions
Kushner
Gordon

Igor Sechin

Executive chairman of the Russian state oil giant Rosneft, former deputy prime minister in Putin’s cabinet.

TIES TO TEAM TRUMP

Tillerson

Russian hackers

The most prominent hackers used the alias Guccifer 2.0. U.S. intelligence officials believe Guccifer 2.0 is a Russian military agent or a persona that was used by multiple people to publicize hacked materials. Analysts are skeptical Guccifer 2.0 conducted the actual hacking, but agree with officials that the name was used as a front to disclose materials online. Hackers with two Russian spy agencies penetrated the systems of the Democratic National Committee and the accounts of other political party members and organizations. They are the FSB, or Federal Security Service, a successor to the KGB; and the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence organization. Guccifer 2.0 was a persona –or the online moniker–affiliated with the release of information hacked by the GRU. Analysts are skeptical that Guccifer 2.0 conducted the actual hacking, but agree with officials that the name was used as a front to disclose materials online.

TIES TO TEAM TRUMP

Stone

Sergey N. Gorkov

Chief of Vnesheconombank,a Russian government-owned development bank that was placed on the U.S. sanctions list in 2014 after Russia annexed Crimea. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev sits on the bank’s supervisory board.

TIES TO TEAM TRUMP

Kushner

Felix Sater

A Russian-American former Trump business partner, Sater tried to help get a deal for a Trump Tower in Moscow in 2005 and again in 2015. He also escorted Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump around Moscow in 2006 and helped bring a pro-Russia peace plan for Ukraine to Trump lawyer Michael Cohen in January. Trump has frequently said he doesn’t remember Sater.

TIES TO TEAM TRUMP

Trump
Flynn
Trump Jr.
Cohen

Sergei Millian

The 38-year-old Belarusan American is believed to be the man behind one of the most salacious claims in the controversial dossier compiled by Christopher Steele: that Donald Trump hired prostitutes at the Moscow Ritz-Carlton and that the Kremlin has kept evidence of the encounter.

TIES TO TEAM TRUMP

Trump
Papadopoulos

Andrii V. Artemenko

The Ukrainian politician met with Trump’s personal lawyer in New York to try and broker a pro-Kremlin peace deal for Ukraine.

TIES TO TEAM TRUMP

Trump
Cohen

Sources: Staff reports.

 

Irish Prime Minister’s Speech Fantastic Reason to Celebrate St. Patrick

Prime Minister of Ireland Enda Kenny at the White House gives us some of the best reasons to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day here, and serves as a eloquent reminder America is at our best when we are a welcoming country that values immigrants and refugees.
Thanks to Vox and writer German R Lopez for the coverage. Here’s Ireland Prime Minister Enda Kenny’s fitting address at the White House:

Kenny said:

It’s fitting that we gather here each year to celebrate St. Patrick and his legacy. He too of course was an immigrant. And though he is, of course, the patron saint of Ireland, for many people around the globe he’s also a symbol of — indeed the patron of — immigrants.

Here in America, in your great country, 35 million people claim Irish heritage, and the Irish have contributed to the economic, social, political, and cultural life of this great country over the last 200 years. Ireland came to America because, deprived of liberty, deprived of opportunity, of safety, of even food itself, the Irish believed.

And four decades before Lady Liberty lifted her lamp, we were the wretched refuse on the teeming shore. We believed in the shelter of America, in the compassion of America, in the opportunity of America. We came and we became Americans. We lived the words of John F. Kennedy long before he uttered them: We asked not what America can do for us, but what we could do for America. And we still do.