A Comprehensive Energy Policy …And Cows

By July 28, 2009Energy, General

We wrote recently about the testimony of North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven to Congress on the need for a comprehensive national energy strategy, noting the state’s still healthy economy.

Turns out the Germans have noticed, as well. The photo above accompanies a Financial Times Germany article by Matthias Ruch, “Oh, wie schön ist North Dakota,” or, “Oh, how lovely North Dakota is.” The summarizing paragraph at the start: “All of America is stuck in a deep recession. Only a smaller state in the north grows cheerfully onward, even producing surplusses. North Dakota simply has a hell of a lot of energy.” And…

Oil, wind and biodiesel. With this formula North Dakota is able to successfully resist the economic crisis. Even as other states are burdened by their heavy debts, Governor John Hoeven has managed surpluses. At the end of the current budget period in June 2011 the state budget is expected to be $700 million in the black. And taxes are being cut.

With growth of 7.3 percent over the past year, North Dakota has left the rest of the country in the dust. There’s no recession. Today the unemployment rate is at 4.2 percent; nationally, the figure is more than twice that. “We desperately need workers,” says Cory Fong. As tax commission in the capital city of Bismarck, Fong carefully watches over the income and expenses of the state. “Energy drives our growth,” he says. “Oil, coal and agriculture work hand in hand. Now we want to close the circle and attract machinery and construction firms to the state.”

The story does oversell the importance of biodiesel, important enough — especially in a top state for producing canola — but a product that pales in wealth-creation in comparison to oil and coal.

But the overriding point is true, and it’s one other states should take note of: A diverse energy economy is a proven way to ensure a strong and resilient economy.

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