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September 2016 Legislative Update • Senator Murphy   

Petroleum, Pipelines, Protests, People

I am addicted to petroleum products and other fossil fuels.  There, I said it.  Take all of the petro products (plastics) out of your refrigerator or home, for that matter, and you have a different storage world – the one that existed a hundred years ago – so it can be done. Transportation without petroleum?  We lived for untold millennia without it, but flying is pretty cool and I love being able to drive.  Of course there are other technologies that someday can move our vehicles, but up North where we live it becomes even more problematic.  And don’t forget that most of the electricity that might power those cars comes from coal, which is not exactly popular these days amongst our regulators and other powers that be. Heating your home without fossil fuels means you had better get busy with that chain saw – oops, it runs on gas… Hydro in relatively flat ND does not cut it.   Natural gas? Still a fossil fuel.  The solar and wind industries are the most promising for sustainability and cleanliness, but the storage problem is still there and until solved we are hooked on crude. 

These pipeline protesters in our state now know what they do not want, which is polluted water and land due to transmission of petroleum, not to mention climatic changes.  No one wants that.  And we all know that most changes in our society are the result of a few activists protesting and pushing for their viewpoint.  That is why women can vote now, for example.  You have watched human behavior closely for your entire life and base many of your decisions on how you read people.  I took that a step or two further than most in that I studied people formally (degrees in Social Studies and Counseling) and then taught people about people for 36 years.  So, you and I understand these protesters are pushing the envelope, by default trying to hasten the development of new technologies.  This I can accept from the historical or large view, as we say these days, the 30,000-foot view.  But personally and on the ground, stopping the safest transmission of fuel (pipelines, by far) is problematic.  You like trains better? Trucks? 

 The Energy Development and Transmission Interim Committee that I serve on in the ND Legislature met last week and we covered some info on water management in the Bakken, some oil and gas updates including production trends (still over a million bopd), well site reclamation and pipeline oversight.  We also looked at bill drafts to extend the tax incentive on wind turbines and giving an extraction tax credit for using carbon dioxide to further enhance oil extraction.  This marriage of oil and the CO2 produced by the coal industry can possibly help both by getting more oil out of existing wells while putting the CO2 a few miles underground. 

This will be a difficult legislative session beginning in January, made less so should the slow creep back of oil prices continue.  Our agricultural industry, still the backbone of our economy, struggles with commodity prices and the vagaries of weather.  Again, in the long view, this happens.  Again, on the ground, painful for all of us.  I leave you now to sharpen my chain saw as the leaves begin to turn.

Sen. Phil Murphy, ND District 20. 9/6/2016

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