Two words; Energy. Agriculture. Those primary drivers of how people get the things they need and want in North Dakota are also the two committees I serve on. This past month I traveled to Bismarck for the Agriculture and Natural Resources meeting where we are figuring out with Game & Fish how best to decide the method by which charities, wildlife organizations and other entities are awarded hunting licenses that they can use to promote habitat or help people hunt who otherwise could not. Most of the day was taken up by looking over rewrites of the agricultural portion of our Century Code (all the laws of ND). As I have mentioned in past columns, this effort has taken many years and consists of lawyers and legislators cleaning up the Code by means of reorganizing, correcting grammar, trying to eliminate redundancy and updating language. We think we are about done and will meet one more time to finalize.
On the energy front, our EDTC (Energy, Development and Transmission Committee) met on the UND campus last Wednesday and Thursday for two different purposes. Wednesday consisted of our specific host, the EERC (Energy and Environmental Research Center) explaining what they do and how things are going. You can easily access their website and see for yourself what this world-class facility is doing in terms of water management, oil and gas related research, carbon capture and coal related efforts. We also toured the Core library, where each successful oil well ever drilled in our state has its geological story laid out in boxes stacked and catalogued. Industry pays many visits to see what is under the ground and our state has one of the two finest libraries in the USA. Many credit the cores there with playing a key role in developing the Bakken – where else can you see two miles down to understand what needs to be dealt with? The last boom filled up the library and they are expanding with a cavernous concrete addition as we are about 12,000 wells into a play that is expected to end up with about 50,000 wells. That day ended up with our committee being briefed by the Empower Commission on what they see as potential legislative moves to help our energy portfolio next session. Empower consists of each segment of energy resources that a few years back decided to get together between sessions and grind out their differences instead of fighting publicly in front of legislative committees.
Thursday consisted of our committee staying at the EERC and attending their energy conference which included presentations from most of the energy segments of our state. There were two different panels with three speakers each discussing where we were, problems, solutions, etc., and the second panel talking about the future. The biggest takeaway is probably that the coal industry is worried about their survival. Technology like instituting the Allem Cycle for more efficient production along with CO2 storage and/or selling CO2 to oil and gas for enhanced recovery may be their best bets, but the timelines imposed by the EPA are, it would seem, impossible to meet as Allem Cycle technology is years away and the oil wells need to be fracked and mined first before trying CO2 injection to get more out.