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Transportation Secretary Chao talks infrastructure at Bismarck forum

Dave Thompson
Prairie Public

The American Conservative Union held an infrastructure forum in Bismarck Monday.

The special guest: Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.  She talked about a number of subjects, including the recent rollback of the Obama-area fuel efficiency standards. Chao told the audience her department and the Environmental Protection Agency will be working on new fuel standards. Chao said the new proposal includes eight options.

"The new proposal will give consumers greater access to safer, more affordable, more accessible vehicles, while continuing to protect the environment," Chao told the audience at the Heritage Center. "What we have is a transparent, inclusive process critical to creating one set of national standards that enhances safety and affordability, while maintaining environmental protections."

Chao also talked about working with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to streamline the permitting process for liquefied natural gas pipelines.

Chao also said North Dakota has become a national leader in the use of unmanned aircraft. She said the use of drones has really taken off.

"More than one million drones are now registered," Chao said. "There's even a new job category -- 'drone operator.' There are over 50,000 drone operators."

North Dakota was one of the states chosen for the “Integration Pilot Program,” where regular aircraft and drones share the same airspace.

"Through this program and the testing conducted across the state, North Dakota has become an epicenter of drone innovation," Chao said.

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