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The United States is standing on the threshold of a new era of energy independence for the nation, and North Dakota has the power to open the door.
Thanks to technologies in oil and gas development including horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, the Bakken and Three Forks formations in western North Dakota have been unlocked, ushering in a new era of economic, income and job growth for the state. These benefits have been well-touted over the past decade, but the benefits this will have on the nation’s role in the world have been understated.
Fostering a new era of self-reliance
In less than a decade, North Dakota has risen from being a “fly over” state with a struggling economy to being a leader in energy development and economic growth in the nation.
Oil production has increased nearly nine times since 2006, making North Dakota the second largest energy producer in the nation and the 19th largest oil producer in the world.
Today, North Dakota accounts for 13 percent of all U.S. oil production and produces more than 1 million barrels per day overtaking Saudi Arabia as a provider of oil to the U.S. by more than 143,000 barrels per day.
As a result of this increase in oil production, the United States’ reliance on foreign oil has fallen by 28 percent over the last decade, while the nation has become entirely self-sufficient in natural gas production.
Holding the keys to better global relations
The ability to harness these energy resources has not only meant that the United States has the ability to carve out a better, more dependent and sustainable future for itself, it also means that it has a once in a generation opportunity to influence the world for the better.
“Unconventional energy is perhaps the largest single opportunity to change America’s competitiveness and economic trajectory, as well as our geopolitical standing,” wrote the Harvard School of Business in a recent report. “Our energy resources have given the U.S. important new diplomatic tools that can aid allies and counteract the ability of unfriendly countries to use oil and gas access to achieve political aims.”
According to the report, the U.S. has a 10- to 15- year lead in commercializing unconventional resources, putting the nation in a position to lead the world in using petroleum resources for good. This ability, however, is being hindered by one thing: a four-decade-old policy.
Allowing crude exports is good for America and good for you
Before the U.S. can begin to use its petroleum resources for good, Congress and the president must lift a four-decade-old ban on crude oil exports. Born of an era of oil scarcity, the policy prevents the United States from participating in an otherwise global market, and placing the control of the market in the hands of countries and terror groups that would otherwise seek to harm the nation. This energy advantage would also help the U.S. support its allies, offsetting the influence Russia currently has over Europe.
All major studies and experts agree that abolishing this policy would not only improve the nation’s global standing, bolster its economy and job growth and spur domestic production, but it would also lower costs for consumers.
The Harvard Business School recently reported that in 2014 alone, American households saved an estimated $800 each because of lower energy prices. If the export ban were lifted, experts agree Americans could save on average of 3.8 cents per gallon at the pump in 2017 and these savings, as well as those from heating oil and diesel, could save American consumers up to $5.8 billion per year, on average, over the 2015-2035 period.
What can be done to increase our energy security while saving consumers money?
According to the Harvard Business School, the U.S. can achieve the many benefits of shale oil and gas development while mitigating environmental impact, but that opportunity is at risk. Opposition based on confusion or misinformation, unwillingness to move beyond ideology and an adherence to outdated policies are eroding the nation’s ability to capitalize on this historic opportunity.
Congress is considering legislation that would lift the crude export ban and help our nation improve its ability to compete at the global level, but steps can be taken by all Americans to help ensure the U.S. doesn’t miss this opportunity.
Visit the Energy of North Dakota website to get the facts on oil and gas development and what can be done to help our nation embrace our chance at energy security .