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Letter: It’s time to unleash U.S. energy for a safer world

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum writes about his recent trade and investment mission to Japan.

Doug Burgum.jpg
Gov. Doug Burgum
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On a recent trade and investment mission to Japan, we had just arrived at a Tokyo office to meet with the country’s minister of the environment when news broke that North Korea had fired a ballistic missile toward the island nation.

While that missile landed harmlessly in the sea, this brazen act left a trail of fear that is all too familiar to Japan, South Korea and our other allies in Asia.

Yet also frightening is the thought of Japan today being entirely dependent on importing the energy it requires through shipping routes in the South China Sea – the main supply chain for Japan's energy and one of the most disputed regions on Earth – or seeing how a dictator like Vladimir Putin can profit from unprovoked war by weaponizing energy against our allies in Western Europe.

As our trade and investment delegation pitched North Dakota agricultural products and energy solutions including carbon capture to the senior executives of more than 150 leading Japanese companies and organizations with a combined market value of well over $1 trillion, it became clear that Japan is not only eager but determined to gain energy security and food security from the United States and other allies so they can reduce their dependency on China, Russia and the Middle East.

North Dakota is poised to play a key role in meeting those needs – if we can clear the roadblocks in our way.

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Take liquified natural gas (LNG), for example: As European countries impacted by Putin’s war look to the eastern United States as a long-term supplier of LNG, Japan is looking to the United States’ west coast. And North Dakota stands ready to be a major supplier of LNG and other energy products to Japan, which in 2019 was the world’s largest importer of LNG.

For global stability, our national security, and the national security of our strategic allies, we must overcome the ideological battles surrounding fossil fuels and build the needed infrastructure to supply western Europe and get our North Dakota resources such as oil, gas and hydrogen (transported as ammonia) to the West Coast for export to Japan.

On a federal level, we should be supporting – nay, insisting – that this connection is built to the Pacific, instead of allowing state and federal bureaucracies to block critical new infrastructure with burdensome red tape and overreaching regulations.

Japan is a country of 126 million people packed into an area almost exactly the same size as North Dakota and South Dakota combined. Oil accounts for about 40% of Japan's total energy supply, yet the country imports nearly 100% of its oil and gas and more than 60% of its calories from food, making it a key market for North Dakota.

We should be selling energy to our friends and allies versus buying it from our adversaries. Thanks to our focus on innovation over regulation, North Dakota is well-positioned to meet our own energy needs and those of our allies, but it's up to all of us to make it happen. Nothing less than global stability and national security – Japan’s and our own – depends on it.

Doug Burgum was elected governor of North Dakota in 2016.

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

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