Harms Column: We Should Be Able To Have A Thoughtful Discussion About Oil Safety


I’d like to clarify and elaborate on my personal comments on the oil industry that might encourage some thoughtful discussion in our state.

Rob missed a couple of key facts related to my resume. I grew up in the oil industry. I’ve worked in it much of my life; have rough-necked, pipelined and lobbied for the industry. During the 11 years I was in the Governor’s office, I advocated for policies favorable to the industry—and most recently advocated for policies to help launch the “Bakken.” I’ve also spent 30 years promoting fiscally conservative policies in ND.

We aren’t faced with one of two choices: either the status quo or shut down the oil industry. The event in Casselton should give us pause to have thoughtful discussions. Those sentiments are common in North Dakota. At the same time, no one wants to shut down the industry that has done so much for ND and the country. We should be able to evaluate practices and policies to make for a better, safer, future for everyone going forward. We should be able to have those kinds of thoughtful conversations without sending everyone into a tizzy. Good grief.

North Dakota is in a perfect position to promote practices and policies providing long-term stability, growth, and economic vitality brought by Bakken oil development. I look forward to helping with that effort.

Robert Harms

Robert Harms is the Chairman of the North Dakota Republican Party.

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  • Roy_Bean

    What bothers me is that I didn’t see the Republican leadership in North Dakota asking Heidi, Harry and Barry “where’s the Keystone pipeline?” I did hear the head of the NDGOP call for more central planning.

    • henrycat

      It appears that had the Keystone pipeline been approved several months ago and in operation, there is a possibility this may not have happened. Special interests and big money control the fate of our nation in this case. Lack of foresight and leadership at the top is the real problem.

    • NDConservative

      It appears that Bob Harms enjoys “warm & fuzzy”. I agree that as the leader of the North Dakota Republican Party he should be calling for approval of the Keystone Pipeline.
      I’m afraid he is just one of the many soft Republicans in an official capacity.

  • Trespassers W

    The cause of the accident was the derailment of rail cars carrying grain, so doesn’t it make sense to have a discussion about grain safety?
    Kidding aside, shouldn’t this be about rail safety, rather than making oil the boogyman?

    • Guest Observer

      Right on the money. Harms is a dumbass!

      • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

        No, Harms isn’t a dumbass. He is very far from being a dumbass.

        But he is wrong on this issue, and his comments while serving as party chair were ill-advised.

        • camsaure

          I would not call him a dumbass, but I will call him a RINO as most of the rest of the ND republican party is also.

        • Guest Observer

          Booksmart doesnt mean common sense smart. A tough term but I stand by it. Plain and simple!

  • NoDak for Life

    The first focus after the Casselton accident needs to be on rail safety – oil tank cars that do not explode or are easily punctured, the rail cars are often inspected for problems (broken axels) and the rail tracks are well maintained.

    Oil transportation safety is largely a BNSF problem, and they are the ones who need to make sure there is safe transport of Bakken oil, including all the way to the final delivery point across the nation ie. far from the Bakken itself.

    Where is Warren Buffett as he has the funding to make sure BNSF meets the needed safety standards?

  • OldConserv2011

    Like Bob, I gew up in the heart of the oil patch. My family owns land and minerals in the heart of the most prolific part of the Bakken. I’ve worked in the industry for the better part of thirty years. I work in the industry today for one of the largest operators in North Dakota.
    Because my livelihoopd depends on the industry and because I have a stake in the changing landscape of our state caused by this prolific boom, I have to answer to two inner masters.
    Luckily however I have the insight that comes from working for one of the major operators and seeing just exactly what our company does in terms of self-regulation and working with the state and local governing bodies.
    Most of what Bob called for in his comments is already being undertaken by many of the larger operators in the state. They’re slowing down their operations and taking more time to properly plan. They’re spending less money on drilling, running fewer drilling rigs, in favor of spending more money to build out badly needed infrastructure. They too are concerned about emmissions and the flaring of gas and are spending billions on building new gas gathering systems and gas processing plants.
    In addition, companies are concerned about the footprint needed to drill thousands of new wells and are spending millions to drill multiple wells from single well sites. They’re working in collaboration with the drilling contractors to develop new technologies to make it easier and more efficient to drill many wells in rapid succession with one rig on one site, reducing the number of trucks necessary to move and assemble rigs.
    And they’re spending billions on getting the oil to market. The larger operators that have developed their own rail loading facilities have built them with the newest and highest technologies available. They’re building them with safety in mind. And they’re buying the newest DOT111 approved rail cars.
    I don’t believe that more government planning and bureaucracy are necessary. The industry is already starting to police itself. In fact, where government can be more involved is in looking at ways to decrease the level of bureaucracy. Particulary in the process of approving additional pipelines and in the process of getting more money more rapidly to the local jurisdictions to aid in the building and maintenance of local infrastructure such as roads, utilities and services.

  • http://www.standupforyourrights.me/ Mark Hanson

    Harms says we’re faced with only two choices, maintain the status quo, or shut down the oil industry. What a crock of BS. Train derailments happen frequently, and this one just happened to involve oil. When grain cars derail, is there talk of shutting down the ag industry? Of course not. Harms is a prime example of the enviro-fascists I rail against. I’m sure he also supports free market “clean” energy mandates. That’s right, clean energy mandates, another free market oxymoron.

    Another example of “free” market fascism is Exxon Mobil’s CEO, Rex Tillerson. He’s called for a carbon tax to subsidize their algae fuels program. Contrary to the fraudulent “free” market narrative, a carbon tax will not hurt the biggest energy companies. Why not? Because the tax revenues will be used to subsidize bogus clean energy projects for the likes of Exxon and General Electric, who’s CEO called for cap and trade before Obama was elected. You can find links to GE’s CEO calling for cap and trade, BP’s incestuous relationship with Obama, and much more in my post on Climategate. http://www.StandUpForYourRights.me/?p=523


  • Lianne

    Harms: “We should be able to evaluate practices and policies to make for a better, safer, future for everyone going forward. We should be able to have those kinds of thoughtful conversations without sending everyone into a tizzy. Good grief.”

    But that is not what you did. You shot comments from the cuff without even checking to see who they thought they were talking to. You didn’t say we need to evaluate practices to be sure they are the safest .

    The government should limit its power to checking safety measures, but then back off and let businesses move forward. ex: Pipelines are generally safer than RR or semi’s. The pipes are not meeting other pipes head on, nor are they eroding the roads.

    Mr. Harms, your statement saying ‘ that a “moderated approach” was needed amid an energy boom that has transformed the local economy, but created safety concerns’ is a far cry from saying we should be able to evaluate practices and policies.
    We will be watching you far more closely. I guess the GOP is giving you the benefit of the doubt. Good Luck.

    • banjo kid

      Those discussions are impossible given the ones in charge are bent on stopping all discussion on oil they want us to not use it period.

  • camsaure

    Could the extreme cold weather have caused a rail to fracture? It is known that extreme cold makes steel brittle. Maybe we could blame Algore, Harms and the rest of the lefts “global warming”.

    • Onslaught1066

      Forget Algore, see if any of the 9-11 truthers say that while steel cannot be melted, it can, in fact, shatter.

  • Bye Bye Jobs

    How is the Keystone going to stop some of these train derailments and how is it going to create jobs? How many jobs? Do you think the Canadian derailment was an inside job?