Energy & Environment

North Dakota: Prosperity under our feet

North Dakota: Prosperity under our feet

Of all the issues facing Americans as we go to the polls Tuesday, none is more pressing than economic growth and job creation – and nothing is more important to accomplishing both than overcoming the Obama administration’s reluctance to engage in energy exploration.

For his part, Governor Romney advocates a robust approach that will release the bureaucratic obstacles to sensible energy development, setting a national objective of North American energy independence by the end of this decade. Doing so, Romney asserts, will reduce the cost of fuel (which has doubled under this President), create new jobs for at least 3 million American workers and add $500 billion to our economy.

I have been asking people to look at North Dakota as an example of what can happen if the United States were to develop a practical, growth-oriented energy policy.

In our state, we enjoy the lowest unemployment in the country, the fastest rate of job growth and the greatest expansion of personal income, with the result being a state budget surplus (yes, a surplus!) of $2 billion.

As Governor Romney pointed out in the first debate, the Bakken oil play has played a critical role in that success. It happened even in the face of the misguided policies of the current administration, which has, through bureaucracy, stifling the XL Keystone pipeline, litigation, delays and over-regulation, reduced oil and gas production on federal land by 14 and 9 percent, respectively.

North Dakota is proof positive that sensible tax and regulatory policies, especially in energy, can be vital drivers of economic growth, jobs and revenue generation.

Often, when I talk about the positive economic measurements of my state’s economy, someone will say, “sure, but that that’s because you have the oil.” That’s true, but we’re not the only state that is blessed with plentiful energy reserves. The difference is that North Dakota utilizes our resources to better our economy and improve people’s lives.

Let’s compare California, whose citizens suffer a 10.5 percent unemployment rate, more than $20 billion in budget deficits and a crushing $600 billion debt.

The Golden State is paralyzed by excessive taxes and virtually every aspect of its economy, including energy, is restricted by a maze of unnecessary and incomprehensible regulations. California’s misguided policies have caused a “reverse Gold Rush” that has forced 3.4 million Californians to abandon the state over the past two decades. Even now, California continues to lose more than 2,000 high wage earners every week.

Unlike North Dakota, California has refused to take full advantage of the massive economic potential right under the feet of its over-taxed citizens.

California is home to 5 of the nation’s top 12 oil fields and has billions of barrels of oil and gas in reserve. Yet California’s restrictive energy policies have caused production to lag, a leading reason its citizens pay the highest electricity rates and gasoline prices in the country.

California and North Dakota each sit on more than 20 billion barrels of oil reserves. The difference between the two states is that in North Dakota, we are recovering those resources to the benefit of our economy

In the 1990s, our state launched an effort to lower taxes, reduce excessive spending and create an “arena of performance” to attract business investment in our state. The program worked, and the result has been a growing and vibrant economy – not to mention an ample source of revenue that has allowed us to do more for the education, health and safety of our citizens.

Embracing responsible energy development, as Governor Mitt Romney will do, is the only recipe to accomplish the goal of energy independence and get our economy moving again.

It’s a simple choice: California or North Dakota? You decide.

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