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

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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 SayAnythingBlog.com. 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. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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