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Hennen: Ways to strengthen North Dakota's energy production

"If we succeed in making Bakken crude the cleanest barrel of oil in the world, our disadvantage in the marketplace will be greatly reduced," writes InForum columnist Scott Hennen. "North Dakota agriculture would win big as well."

Scott Hennen.jpg
Columnist Scott Hennen

I believe it's blatantly obvious that the Biden Administration is on a climate action binge that, if successful, would end energy production as we know it in North Dakota.

Try as we might to dissuade the eco-terrorists and environmental extremists from this ridiculous twisted plan, it is a fools errand. They are going to do what they are going to do. Pres. Joe Biden, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Chuck Schumer, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others are going to walk in lock step with everything these extremists want.

The question we all should be asking ourselves is, "What can we realistically do to wage this battle?" My answer would be to do what we can with what we have and where we are.

Energy and agriculture are among America's most challenging industries. Oil and commodity prices are dangerously fickle. Weather is extreme here and presents enormous risk to those that farm the land for crops, oil, gas or coal.

In one example, a recent blizzard buried an oil tanker truck in the middle of Tioga Bay on Lake Sakakawea near Fort Berthold literally buried in 5 feet of snow.


This doesn’t happen in the oil fields of Texas or New Mexico. It’s a loss of time and money.

The director of North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources Lynn Helms gave testimony before a legislative committee last month describing how billions in Bakken profits were redirected as investment in the Permian oil basin in Texas and New Mexico. Capital goes where it gets the best return. That’s simple math.

All this is to say the biggest beneficiaries of this bounty — including state, county and local government coffers as well as education — should be wise to advocate for smart regulations and innovative investments. We have a great history of value-added innovation in agriculture and value-added investments in energy are growing by the day. Here are some recent examples:

  • The nation's leading efforts with carbon capture and utilization.
  • Bold incentives to transport, process and utilize our natural gas here.
  • The Dakota Access Pipeline's expansion to increase the takeaway capacity, assuming the Biden administration’s sinister influence on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers isn't successful.
  • Wise investment of some Legacy Fund earnings into incentive matches for cutting-edge technologies, thereby accelerating the commercialization pace of North Dakota-led research and development.
  • The formation of the Clean Sustainable Energy Authority to lead the effort of identifying the priorities. 

The bottom line is this: If we succeed in making Bakken crude the cleanest barrel of oil in the world, our disadvantage in the marketplace will be greatly reduced. North Dakota agriculture would win big as well. We can’t change the weather here, but we can get every stakeholder active in an effort to find every new advantage possible.
The challenges are many, but so are the opportunities. We must rally as North Dakotans behind the two pillars of our state's economy — energy and agriculture — and deploy chess-like skills while bureaucrats and politicians in Washington, D.C. play checkers.

Click here for more columns from Scott Hennen.

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
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.

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