Legislative Report – Week Four
Legislative Report, Week 4, 64th session, Senator Phil Murphy
I type this for you on Tuesday evening because of the Wednesday newsroom deadline. Tomorrow I will testify on 2276, which is about moving natural gas to areas of North Dakota unserved by that vital commodity. Communities such as Harvey, Kindred, Traill County and others are in pockets that for various reasons have not attracted the infrastructure needed to support economic development through the use of natural gas. This hearing will be in front of the Senate Finance and Tax committee and the bill features a property tax incentive for ten years at 100% and a consumer income tax credit for 50% of conversion costs if one would want to switch fuels. As with any decision, some are excited about the potential growth and advantages, while others, mostly the current propane providers, are understandably upset about the state providing help to competing corporations.
From my perspective, you cannot build an omelet without breaking some eggs. As a propane user that appreciates the service our locals provide, I have little personal interest in displacing that source or disrupting the way those friends make a living. And it would be many years before that would happen even if this initiative were to pass both houses this session. Besides, the passage of this bill would hardly guarantee that our area would benefit from it. However much pain something like this might bestow upon the status quo, progress has to be striven towards. Traill County lost three large businesses that wanted to locate here last year but quickly dismissed the sites without natural gas. If we want to grow, we have to move towards the future. In our state, that means the much more abundant and clean natural gas. North Dakota now has the hydrocarbons flowing out of the ground so as to be ideally suited to manufacture tires and a plethora of plastic products. According to a study done for us by IHS (who does these all over the world), we have the raw product and an advantageous geographic placement to distribute to adequately populated markets. If we want one of these “small” plants of .5 to 1.5 billion dollars located in ND, we need to bring natural gas. As I have theorized before, even if we do not get a pipeline, the other areas that do would no longer have as much demand for propane. That would free up enough to hopefully smooth out the price spikes and shortages that prompted me to start this discussion in the first place and would give our propane people even more to do here.