OUR OPINION: UND should answer stabilization question
Back in 2005, UND smartly and quickly took advantage of Grand Forks Air Force Base's newfound interest in unmanned aviation. The university resolved to become a national leader in the field, capitalizing on the Odegaard School of Aerospace Scienc...
Back in 2005, UND smartly and quickly took advantage of Grand Forks Air Force Base’s newfound interest in unmanned aviation. The university resolved to become a national leader in the field, capitalizing on the Odegaard School of Aerospace Sciences’ existing strengths.
The spectacular result was evident Thursday at the groundbreaking of the $25 million Aerospace and UAS Research, Training and Education Building. “UND Aerospace is already the recognized national leader in manned aviation, and now we’re working to make it the undisputed leader in unmanned aviation,” said Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., at the event.
Now, the oil boom in western North Dakota is offering up similar opportunities for UND to seize. Case in point: The debate on today’s ThreeSixty page about oil stabilization and rail-car safety.
Bakken oil needs to be “stabilized” or shorn of its most volatile components before being shipped by rail, advocates say.
No, it doesn’t, oil-industry executives respond. For one thing, the stabilizing would add little or nothing to oil-train safety. For another, it would produce a whole new stream of explosive components that North Dakota would have to deal with.
UND should help decide.
Some 200 students already are enrolled in the university’s new petroleum-engineering major. Now, the university should make the most of its new capabilities, vowing to settle this dispute and solve other problems facing the energy industries.
The oil industry often touts industry-sponsored studies, which - lo and behold - often support the industry’s favored conclusions. But as mentioned before in this space, those studies are tainted, because critics simply won’t believe any results that the industry had a hand in financing.
Anti-oil conclusions reached by research paid for by the Sierra Club would meet the same fate.
That’s where UND should come in. If the university isn’t already conducting its own studies on Bakken oil and the safety effects of stabilization, it should start doing so.
Because lawmakers, regulators and taxpayers nationwide desperately need findings delivered by a neutral but trusted authority.
UND can and should be that source. The university sought and won a national leadership role in unmanned aviation. It should do the same with oil, becoming the go-to source for authoritative research on Bakken and other crudes.
Click here to view the opinion of Brent Lohnes, director for field and plant operations for Hess Corp.
For other views, click here .