Bob Wisness: Exporting American oil will hurt American farmers
ARNEGARD, N.D. -- Recently, there has been a lot of oil-industry talk promoting the lifting of the ban on exporting American crude oil. Of particular concern is the fact that lifting the ban will directly and negatively affect American and, espec...
ARNEGARD, N.D. - Recently, there has been a lot of oil-industry talk promoting the lifting of the ban on exporting American crude oil. Of particular concern is the fact that lifting the ban will directly and negatively affect American and, especially, North Dakota agriculture.
At a House Agriculture Committee meeting in Washington last week, oil industry officials - including a prominent North Dakota oil company CEO - took credit for rejuvenating American agriculture. Simultaneously, the asked for the oil-export ban to be lifted and the Renewable Fuels Standard to be eliminated.
They also tried to convince the committee that North Dakota's ultra-high quality crude is somehow unsuitable for American refineries.
The underlying inference from the oil industry is that North America has so much oil that we can never use it all. Really? You just can't make this stuff up!
If oil exports are allowed, then projects such as the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines likely will send North American oil to export terminals. So, tell us how that will work to promote American energy independence?
Now, don't get me wrong. Farmers and farm groups strongly support pipelines as long as they are built right and for the right reasons.
But it makes no sense for us to support pipelines that run to export terminals.
Meanwhile, there was little, if any, testimony from agriculture groups. It's a shame that Ag Committee members couldn't or wouldn't hear both sides of the story, nor did the members see fit to ask the right questions of the oil industry's representatives on behalf of agricultural and consumer interests.
Agriculture is the most energy-dependent industry in America, so farmers bear the brunt of every hurricane, Mideast uprising, oil spill, mythical shortage and politician's whim as oil, fuel and fertilizer prices skyrocket every time.
Now the American oil industry wants the ability to export the very oil that is produced on millions of acres of American farmland.
The real kick in the teeth for the American farmer is that the oil industry is simultaneously pushing for repeal of the Renewable Fuels Standard, which is directly responsible for the resurgence of rural America. Frankly, farmers have enough to deal with in the troublemakers in the Middle East, misinformed consumers and overzealous environmental and wildlife activists.
Let's not add the oil industry to that list.
Agriculture and oil are important to every person, city and county in North Dakota and America. Indeed, while some of the state's farmers may eventually benefit from what oil and gas has the potential to do for our state, farmers in the Bakken region are forced to tolerate the oil industry with few, if any, net benefits.
The payback for agriculture may eventually come in the form of stable-priced and reliable fuel and fertilizer supplies, but that will not happen if our oil is allowed to leave.
We like to think we need each other, but to coexist, it must be a two way street.
Exporting American crude oil is a bad idea whose time has not come.