Hoeven: Energy Development Key to National Economic Recovery, North Dakota's Economic Future

FARGO, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today told North Dakota energy industry leaders that one of the keys to America’s economic recovery is a vibrant, varied energy sector. A sensible legal, tax and regulatory business climate will unleash innovation and attract much-needed investment to the nation’s energy industry. 

Representatives from across the full range of North Dakota’s diverse energy sectors gathered for the Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo Chamber of Commerce’s The State of Energy Summit. Participants included representatives of the oil and gas, coal-fired electrical, wind, and biofuels industries, as well as the North Dakota Corn Growers Association and the North Dakota Soybean Council, both energy-agriculture related interests. 

Prior to the summit, Hoeven held a news conference with representatives from all of North Dakota’s major energy subsectors, including Basin Electric CEO Ron Harper; Otter Tail Power Co. CEO Chuck MacFarlane; Petro Serve CEO Kent Satrang; Whiting Petroleum COO James Brown; Tharaldson Ethanol Vice President Russ Newman; Kadrmas, Lee and Jackson Engineers President Niles Hushka; and Tom Lilja, the executive director of the North Dakota Corn Growers Association.

“Aggressive energy development is important not only to North Dakota’s economic future, but it is also one of the keys to America’s economic recovery,” Hoeven said. “A vibrant and varied energy sector and a strong pro-business environment can create jobs and unleash America’s economic might again. Our nation’s greatest economic achievements – our standard of living and quality of life – have always been fueled by energy, and our continued success depends on affordable and abundant energy.” 

“North Dakota is on the cusp of being not just a domestic source of energy, but a global producer,” said F-M-WF Chamber President and CEO Craig Whitney. “The potential is there, but it’s going to take our best and brightest working together to fill the next generation of jobs in North Dakota. And that’s what The State of Energy Summit hopes to achieve.” 

“I’m very pleased to be a part of this conference along with Senator Hoeven,” said Basin Electric Power Cooperative president and CEO Ron Harper. “Energy is vital to the future of North Dakota, and we need to encourage a strong public and private partnership to see that development occurs, and occurs in the right way.” 

As governor, Hoeven focused on job creation and an agenda for growing and diversifying the state’s economy, with energy targeted as one of the state’s key sectors for growth. Under his administration, the state worked for more than a decade to build Empower North Dakota, the state’s comprehensive, multi-resource energy policy, which forged a strong business climate for energy, attracted investment and stimulated innovation.

“In North Dakota, we built Empower North Dakota over a decade – piece by piece – and saw firsthand the power of energy development to boost the economy,” Hoeven said. “Many of the same principles and practices we employed with Empower North Dakota – and frankly, that other states are now employing – can work for our country.” 

“We need Senator Hoeven to craft an energy policy for America in a similar way that Governor Hoeven crafted our energy policy here in North Dakota,” said Kent Satrang, CEO of Petro Serve USA, a leading fuel retailer who has made ethanol an important part of his business. He says in 2000 only 12.7 percent of North Dakota gas sales contained an ethanol blend, and primarily it was at just a 10 percent blend.  Today that number has risen to over 55 percent and North Dakota plant production now equals the state’s total gasoline sales.  

Jim Brown, President and Chief Operating Officer of Whiting Petroleum Corp., said “We think North Dakota is the model for our nation’s future – low unemployment, fiscal responsibility and reducing dependence on foreign oil imports.” 

Hoeven said one of the principal challenges confronting the energy industry today is a climate of legal, tax and regulatory uncertainty. This uncertainty is not only sidelining investment and impeding development, but also hindering job creation and slowing economic growth.

 Earlier this year, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a study identifying 351 stalled energy projects nationwide that are costing the American economy $1.1 trillion in lost economic impact and, more importantly, nearly two million jobs annually, he said. 

“North Dakota has resources, technology, and the state regulatory framework necessary for growing its energy sector, but is limited by the ability to transport more energy. Increasing energy export capability by building additional transmission lines, for example, will be key to growth,” said Chuck MacFarlane, President and CEO, Otter Tail Power Co. 

Senator Hoeven outlined a number of pieces of legislation he is cosponsoring with other senators to reduce the regulatory burden on energy producers and create an environment for growth and development. These include: 

  • The Regulatory Responsibility for Our Economy Act – Requires regulators to show that the benefits of a new rule outweigh its costs, impose the least burden on society, and maximize economic benefits.
  • The Defending America’s Affordable Energy and Jobs Act – Ensures that Congress makes the call on regulating greenhouse gases.
  • The EPA Fair Play Act – Prohibits rescinding properly approved 404 permits.
  • The Gas Accessibility and Stabilization Act – Simplifies the complex gasoline distribution system to make more fuel available when it’s needed. 

“Now, facing deficit and debt, our country can’t afford to miss the enormous opportunity all of our energy sectors offer,” Hoeven said. “With 14 million Americans out of work, we can no longer delay. We need to increase domestic energy production from all sources, and provide regulatory relief in order to do it, because high energy prices impact virtually every aspect of American life. That includes jobs, economic growth, the purchasing power of the American family, and ultimately, our standard of living and our quality of life.”

The State of Energy News Conference