Page 12 ■ Thursday, January 26, 2012 No big rush to
demand pipeline By TOM POTTER Grand Forks
mand a Keystone pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf Coast. U.S. Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp and others have claimed that the pipeline “will cre- ate North Dakota jobs as well as drive down costs of fuels for small businesses and North Dakota families.” If that were, in fact, the case, I would join our former attorney general in de- manding a fast track approval for the construction of the pipeline. But there is, at the moment, no rea-
son to believe that the Keystone pipeline will create a single new job in North Da- kota or reduce the cost of fuel anywhere in the U.S. The maps I have seen indicate that the pipeline will be laid across a tiny sliver of the far southwestern corner of North Dakota. Other maps indicate that the proposed route does not enter North Dakota at all. The maps I have seen also suggest that
I do not understand the rush to de-
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR OPINION
of the most fertile farmland in the U.S. outside North Dakota. The potential for a devastating pipeline accident in that region must be part of the risk/reward analysis included in the process of decid- ing whether or not to build the pipeline. This is the kind of analysis that cannot be rushed.
production has increased for the fi rst time in 30 years. This increase is largely due to the added production from the oil fi elds in western North Dakota. I cannot understand why North Da-
I am delighted to note that U.S. oil Pipeline: Time to
‘Get it done’ By HEIDI HEITKAMP Mandan
kota lawmakers would have the slightest interest in transporting foreign oil across the U.S. from Canada to the Gulf Coast. It seems to me that our fi rst priority ought to be capturing the value of North Dakota crude by increasing the capacity of local refi neries to turn our product into gasoline and diesel fuel for our local farmers and motorists. To paraphrase Heitkamp’s position,
the proposed pipeline route goes directly under (or across, or through) the Ogal- lala Aquifer, which provides both drink- ing water and irrigation water for some
we should make North Dakota our fi rst priority “even if it means upset- ting members of (Republican Sen. John Hoeven’s) party. It’s time to put aside political games and partisan squabbles in Washington and do what’s right by North Dakotans.” (Tom Potter is a candidate for the
to reject the Keystone XL pipeline is the wrong decision, and another example of what’s wrong with politics and Washing- ton these days. It’s time to put partisan- ship aside, do what’s right for the coun- try and build this pipeline. The Keystone pipeline would mean
President Barack Obama’s decision
gations are up by 30 percent, according to police. The president’s decision is wrong for
the economy, and the timing is prob- lematic as well. This is a massive project that passes through many jurisdictions, requiring a long lead time. Unnecessary delays cost money, and
long delays on big projects mean big money. These delays also try the patience of the American public. When people complain about their
billions of dollars for our economy when we need it most, with thousands of well- paid construction jobs and new oppor- tunities for small businesses. It would help lower prices at the gas pump and help us reduce our reliance on oil imports from the Middle East. It would allow our Canadian allies to ship their oil to us instead of China. Those are all benefi ts for North Da-
kota and the nation. There’s another plus for our state —
Democratic-NPL nomination for the U.S. Senate.)
oil fl owing through the Keystone pipe- line would mean fewer tankers on our roads. North Dakota highways are taking a beating from the oil industry traffi c, becoming more dangerous every day for truckers and families alike. In Williston, traffi c accident investi-
government, this is the sort of thing they’re complaining about. American domestic oil producers
have been pressing for this project for a long time. We know that we don’t have enough domestic oil to meet the coun- try’s demand and our present course is unsustainable. The Keystone pipeline won’t solve all our energy problems, but it is part of the solution. Yet Washington politicians have once again proved unable, or un- willing, to do the right thing. I will work with Sen. John Hoeven, representatives of the energy industry, and anybody, Re- publican or Democrat to help turn this economy around. When it comes to the pipeline, I have three words of advice: Get it done. (Heidi Heitkamp is seeking the Demo- cratic-NPL nomination for U.S. Senate.)
Oil boom breeds unexpected consequences
the North Dakota oil patch and celebrate the benefi ts that will enrich mineral own- ers, landlords, community businesses, oil companies and the state treasury. Howev- er, the negative unexpected consequences of the rapid development are becoming too serious to ignore. Intoxicated by the prosperity of the oil
boom, we have ignored two major trends while we have been running gleefully to the bank with the proceeds. The fi rst is the crushing load being placed on the in- frastructure in the oil patch. The second is the undermining of the legislative pro- cess. Practically unregulated and moving
at break-neck speed, the development is overtaxing the infrastructure throughout the oil patch. Public services are being stretched beyond capacity. Highways are being destroyed faster
than they can be rebuilt; heavy oil traffi c is shoving other users off the roads; schools are rushing to accommodate over-enroll- ment. Housing, much of it inadequate, is in short supply; crime is mounting, coun- ty social services are being impacted and environmental concerns are being shoved under the rug.
The oil has been here for millions of We welcome the new development in
years. It isn’t going to evaporate next week, so there is no justifi cation for the develop- ment panic that is gripping the state. Some local leaders have become alarmed at the destruction and are calling for slowing down the runaway industry by reducing the number of drilling permits issued.
treasury has been so dazzling that some interest groups are trying to get a hog’s share of the money. They are proposing to junk up the state constitution with pro- posals that really warrant the review and analysis of the state Legislature. First, there is the measure that would
This can be done without disrupting the industry. Areas suffering excessive damage could be declared disaster regions and drilling permits in these areas limited until the consequences can be brought under control. In fringe areas with man- ageable development, the issuance of drilling permits could be continued with- out concern. Not only is the oil boom destroy- ing some of our physical plant, it also is threatening the legislative process.
summarily end the local property tax and mandate replacement funding of local governments by the state to a tune of $700 million annually. This measure would not be on the table without the presence of oil money.
The fl ow of oil revenue into the state
sures is that they would lock up large sums money without regard to the other priorities of the state. They are being proposed for a vote of the people because the sponsors feel that they don’t have a good enough case to convince the Legislature that their pro- posals ought to have priority over money for highways, state school aid, Medicaid, higher education and other state pro- grams.
the state will not have to reimburse the local governments with tax money. But Section 4 of the proposal leaves no doubt that the Legislature would be required to fund the revenue loss at the local level. Oil money would be needed to fund this pro- posal. Wildlife and environmental interests
The sponsors have been claiming that
in the constitution would impair the abil- ity of the Legislature to balance all of the state’s needs or to respond to unexpected emergencies, such as the major fl ooding experienced by Bismarck, Minot, Fargo and Devils Lake in 2011. Both of these proposals belong in the
are proposing a constitutional amend- ment that would divert another $40 mil- lion annually out of the state treasury for a raft of projects enumerated in the pro- posal.
advantage of the fl exibility in state fund- ing resulting from oil revenues.
They, too, see an opportunity to take
legislative process, where all of the state’s priorities can be thoroughly discussed and balanced. We not only need to save the infra-
structure in the oil patch. We must also balance all needs when it comes to allo- cating the state’s new-found wealth. (Lloyd Omdahl is a political scientist
and former North Dakota lieutenant gov- ernor. His column appears Sundays in the Bismarck Tribune.)
These efforts to lock certain revenues The problem with both of these mea-
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