North Dakota is at the nexus of the increasing overlap of energy and agriculture. The two industries are coming together in ways that will help drive the nation to a sustainable energy future.

At first, when Gov. Doug Burgum proclaimed a goal of making North Dakota carbon neutral by 2030, the objective seemed like more of an ambitious aspirational target than a real mark to hit. Burgum himself said it could be seen as a “moonshot” goal when he laid down the challenge before the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in May.

It’s a lofty goal, to be sure. But North Dakota can play a major role as the nation strives for net-zero carbon emissions.

RELATED: Gov. Doug Burgum calls for North Dakota to be carbon neutral by 2030

North Dakota’s geology not only brims with gas and oil, but with cavities of saltwater deep underground that are ideally suited for storing carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas.

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Not long after Burgum dangled his goal, Summit Agricultural Group announced that at least 31 Midwest ethanol plants, including the Tharaldson Ethanol plant near Casselton, will pipe their carbon dioxide emissions for storage in western North Dakota.

In time, more ethanol plants, as well as fertilizer plants and power plants, could join the pipeline network. North Dakota is well positioned to become a regional carbon storehouse, and promises to be a major asset in the transition to an energy future based on renewable sources.

Consider that North Dakota’s energy-related carbon dioxide emissions total about 56 million metric tons per year, about 1% of the nation’s total. Researchers believe North Dakota’s geologic formations can store more than 250 million metric tons.

The state has two major efforts to prove the feasibility of capturing carbon emissions from coal-fired plants and storing the greenhouse gas underground: Minnkota Power Cooperative’s $1 billion Tundra initiative and a $1.5 billion proposal to convert Coal Creek Station.

Cleaner energy will command a premium in the marketplace. As Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council recently put it, if we can make Bakken oil “one iota cleaner than the Permian barrel” — a reference to its arch-rival — “then the dollar will come here.”

Also, because the United States has more stringent regulations than much of the world, the oil and gas we produce is among the cleanest on the globe, said Kathleen Neset, a consultant geologist in North Dakota’s Oil Patch.

Consumers and shareholders are increasingly demanding clean energy sources — which is why North Dakota is smart to move aggressively in that direction, rather than to be pushed, kicking and screaming.

North Dakota is among the states that is challenging the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gases. Even if the lawsuit wins before a friendly Supreme Court, the real battle is being waged in the marketplace, not the courtroom.

The destructive and unrelenting climate crisis is turning doubters into believers that we have to act. But we find ourselves in a long transitional period to a cleaner energy future. Our dependence on fossil fuels won’t end quickly, but it can end smartly, as we steadily substitute cleaner sources as we navigate our way to that cleaner future.

And North Dakota is well positioned to play a leading role in getting us there, blazing a path that seeks partnerships with industry but doesn’t issue mandates.

This other view is the opinion of the editorial board of our sister publication, The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.