Goodbye, Bismarck, and Thanks for All That Energy!

By June 16, 2007Energy, Report from America

Report from AmericaAs a pleasant week on the prairies comes to an end, allow us one observation about the differences between bicoastal America and the heartland: Boy, it’s nice to come to a place where most everybody is proud and supportive of coal and oil. And for good reason — They’re fueling the state’s growing economy and population.

Population growth, or more typically its decline, has long been a measure of the North Dakota’s vitality. Outmigration, an older demographic and the flight from the rural counties had cast a pall over the state’s self-perception.

Now, instead of gloom a baby boom, thanks to energy.

Last year, 23 North Dakota counties had what demographers call a natural increase in population – births outnumbering deaths. But many counties still experience out-migration, so the net effect is that 15 counties saw a net population increase overall, according to a new report by the North Dakota State Data Center.

Many of those counties with increased population are in western North Dakota, reflecting the continuing energy boom, said demographer Richard Rathge, state data center director.

“This is very encouraging news and hopefully we can expand these numbers in the future,” he said.

And, the attitude toward energy remains welcoming:

BISMARCK, N.D. A $130 million plan to expand the Enbridge oil pipeline system in North Dakota is the biggest news for oil producers in the state in more than 20 years, a state official says.

Houston-based Enbridge Energy Partners L.P. announced the plans Friday, saying it will expand its pipeline system by 45,000 barrels per day by late 2009.

“It’s the biggest thing since the current Enbridge system was built in about 1984,” said Lynn Helms, the director of the state’s Department of Mineral Resources.

The Enbridge system brings crude oil from western North Dakota and Eastern Montana to Minnesota to connect with other pipeline systems and then to refinery markets, officials say.

Not coincidently, North Dakota is one of a few states to have added manufacturing jobs in recent years.

We’ll have some more reports from Coal Country next week.

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