North Dakota Politicians Need To Stop Taking Credit For The Oil Boom


The Renewable Energy Action Summit, sponsored by North Dakota’s congressional delegation, is taking place in Bismarck today and while the event may be about green energy, fossil fuels are dominating the event.

Which is what you might expect from a state currently hip-deep in an oil boom like North Dakota.

But listening to some of the politicians speak at the event, you’d get the idea that the oil boom was something they planned to have all along and not merely circumstance.

“The comprehensive state energy plan that we launched a decade ago is driving an energy agenda that is more diversified than at any time in our history,” Senator John Hoeven tells the Associated Press. “In a nutshell, we need to figure out at the national level how we did it in North Dakota.”

From that, I guess the plan is to tell the leadership in every state how they can have an oil boom of their own? Is that really what Hoeven is suggesting?

This stuff about a “comprehensive state energy plan” is utter nonsense. We always knew we had oil in western North Dakota. It was a confluence of market factors and technological innovations, not political planning, which led to the oil boom. And that, along with a strong oil industry, is the corner stone of the state energy industry’s success.

Government efforts to promote energy – most notably ethanol and wind power – have been a flop. Neither industry would exist without government policy, subsidies and protectionism, propping it up. LM Windpower, a wind turbine manufacturer based in Grand Forks, told the Grand Forks Herald last year that every time the federal government’s subsidies for wind power expire demand for their products drops between 73% and 93%.

In other words, there is no market for these government-backed energies outside of the market the government has created with subsidies.

Anyone claiming that North Dakota’s oil boom was the result of politicians and their policies should be laughed at. Anyone who claims that North Dakota’s success can somehow be exported to other states should be mocked.

You can’t strike oil everywhere.

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • yy4u2

    It’s embarrassing to hear this come out of a conservative’s mouth.  My bad, he’s proven to be a RINO since elected.  The lesser of two evils but still evil.

    • Dlao

       He’s never been a conservative, and hardly a republican. He was (and still is by all indicators, a raging liberal) a democrat until realizing to get elected in the state of ND he had to become a republican. He’s an embarrassment to conservatives everywhere but the republicans got someone with an r next to his name elected so they are happy.

  • Kevin Flanagan

    Haven’t we been led to believe that Byron Dorgan discovered oil in ND?

    • Roy_Bean

      I think that’s what Al Gore said on the internet that he invented.

  • Patrick R. Pfeiffer

    Reminds one of the Rooster taking credit for the sunrise.

  • Ndwriter

    I don’t think that anyone is saying they invented oil or were the singular reason that it succeeds here. But they are saying state regulation, opportunity to do businesses, etc, were “friendly” to the energy industry. That meant once the technology was available, that the probably of getting in and being able to use it, make a strong industry out of it was a possibility. In states where regulation is much more stringent or where there are more hurdles to doing business wouldn’t have had the same success. Look at the national policies that prevent or prohibit such growth. That’s a pretty good contrast to how ND operates.

    • Rob

      So they want credit for not regulating the oil boom to death?

      C’mon.  Read Hoeven’s actual words.  He didn’t put oil under the state, and while there is some credit due for not trying to tax oil to death, were it not for the mere circumstance of oil being under the state there would be no “North Dakota model” to show other states.

  • howiseeit

    I think all of us can take a big look at ourselves and take a little too much credit for our sucesses but then real leadership isn’t about taking credit it’s about giving it.