Ask anyone what the most impactful accomplishment from recently completed special session of the North Dakota Legislature and you'll likely get many different answers.
While there were many things that were accomplished, some good and some bad, I think we should all agree that the state of North Dakota taking federal American Rescue Plan dollars and using it for infrastructure is a game-changer.
This infrastructure will connect western North Dakota oil and gas fields to eastern North Dakota, including places like Rugby, Bottineau and other communities along Highway 2 and Interstate 29 that currently don't have natural gas service. This will serve the industrial needs, grow new manufacturing facilities and have countless other benefits, including ending the reliance on Canadian natural gas in the population centers of eastern North Dakota.
It took a $150 million state investment so far and the intent for another $150 million from the state to get plans for the pipeline started, but this will be a private sector project. Given the distance, it will be a multi-billion dollar pipeline.
The state's commitment was needed to get the project built. Fargo, West Fargo and Grand Forks already have access to natural gas, but it comes from Canada. Meanwhile, if there isn't a solution to use the natural gas that comes as a by-product of oil development, many companies today say they will stop their oil production. When that happens, the biggest loser is the tax coffers of North Dakota.
This brings me to the reason why this is a very worthy investment of tax incentive dollars. Pipelines are the number one attack point among fossil fuel deniers and the “keep it in the ground” crowd. As they fly around in their jets, they'd like you and I to return to a buffalo commons. They want green energy to have a leg up.
You only need to look at what President Joe Biden did on day one: canceled pipelines and took one-fourth of American energy production off line by preventing oil and gas exploration on federal lands. That's what's to blame for the price you're currently paying at the pump.
It has nothing to do with OPEC, despite the childish reaction by Biden's Secretary of Energy, Jennifer Granholm. She cackled in laughter when recently asked what America was going to do to have more supply available to bring prices down. Biden and his ilk prefer to beg at the altar of OPEC.
When we solve the puzzle of utilizing the abundance of natural gas in western North Dakota oil fields by bringing it it to eastern North Dakota, it'll mean more for everyone. More oil production means more revenue for the state of North Dakota, paying for the investment in the pipeline. More oil and gas production means more investments in schools, roads, bridges and water projects.
Most importantly, it grows communities in all of North Dakota. That means higher-paying jobs with more career opportunities to retain our most precious resource: our children. That's a big win, thanks to the visionaries who made it happen.
Scott Hennen hosts the statewide radio program “What’s On Your Mind?” On AM 1100 “The Flag”, KFYR AM 550, AM 1090 KTGO “The Flag” and AM 1460 KLTC. Email him at ScottH@FlagFamily.com
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.