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Viewpoint: North Dakota leads the way on responsible, sustainable energy generation

Over the past year, the North Dakota coal industry has also shown that reliable and affordable electricity is of tremendous value.

Curt Kreun
Sen. Curt Kreun (Photo provided by North Dakota Legislative Council)
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Over the last several years, there has been significant pressure placed on energy producers by Washington policymakers, Wall Street and environmental activists.

At the same time, North Dakota has been leading the way on responsible and sustainable energy generation by using our abundant natural resources like coal, oil and gas. The Bakken has the potential to be a global powerhouse, and there’s over 800 years of lignite coal under our soil. On top of that, North Dakota has the cleanest air in the nation, as we are one of only four states that has never violated the Environmental Protection Agency’s federal ambient air regulations.

Furthermore, North Dakota is ranked in the top three in the United States for oil production. The technology that led to the oil boom has reaped unimaginable dividends for our state through growing our economy, providing thousands of jobs and supplying enough tax revenue to fund over 50% of our state budget.

And we can do more.

The US oil industry produces the cleanest barrels of oil in the world, in the most economical and responsible manner, and that is what led to our recent dominance of the oil markets which greatly reduced the price of gasoline only a couple of years ago. We know that each additional barrel of oil we produce in the U.S. helps reduce prices and lowers inflation for American consumers. Plus, each barrel of oil we produce here replaces production from Russia, Venezuela or Iran.

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Over the past year, the North Dakota coal industry has also shown that reliable and affordable electricity is of tremendous value to the 15 statewide electrical grid known as the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO). In May, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) issued a report that said the MISO grid is at elevated risk of energy shortfalls due to generation retirement that could result in blackouts and brownouts this summer. This is forecasted to be even greater over the next two years as more baseload retirements are scheduled to occur.

Over the past week, most of the nation has experienced a sweltering heat wave that places great demand and stress on the electrical grid. If you were following the real-time display on the MISO website, you would see that the grid has been powered by roughly 90% by energy generation from fuel sources that can be dialed up when needed which includes coal, natural gas and nuclear.

In North Dakota, we have the natural resources that provide for a strong economy, good paying jobs and a well-funded state government. We can do this while operating in the most environmentally responsible manner found on planet earth. Let’s appreciate what we have and make sure we continue to foster its sustainable growth, as our lives depend on it.

Curt Kreun serves as chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee in the North Dakota Senate. A Republican, he represents District 42 of Grand Forks.

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