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North Dakota’s Economic Boom Inspires Action on Energy Legislation

Written by Tray Smith

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The U.S. House will vote next week on a package of energy and jobs bills Republican leaders say will help lower the price of energy and boost economic growth. The Domestic Energy and Jobs Act combines seven energy-related bills aimed at boosting energy production on federal land.

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said it was part of an “all-of-the-above” national energy strategy. “The president uses that phrase, he says all of the above, but doesn’t believe in anything from below,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy pointed to the oil boom in North Dakota, a state he visited last month and the subject of a new video from his office. McCarthy credited the state for implementing an energy policy years ago that has given producers the certainty needed to invest there. “This can happen in other places across the country,” he said.

North Dakota has surpassed Alaska as the second largest oil-producing state, and median household income in the state grew nearly 43 percent from 2000 to 2010. That far outpaces the 18 percent increase nationally. North Dakota also has an unemployment rate of 3 percent, the nation’s lowest.

House Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) said oil production in states like North Dakota and Texas is largely on private lands, and the new legislation would make it easier to produce on public lands.

“Unfortunately, because of environmental issues, the process is very, very burdensome,” Hastings said.

The various bills included in the act would make more federal land open for leasing, simplify the leasing process, and improve access to the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska. While some of the provisions are not Heritage’s preferred method of expanding oil and gas production, energy expert Nick Loris said the comprehensive package seeks to expand energy supply and remove onerous regulations for all sources of energy.

Early this year, the House passed another bill to require the secretary of the Interior Department sell offshore oil and gas leases, open a small part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to energy exploration, promote the development of domestic oil shale resources, and remove the president’s authority over the Keystone XL pipeline.

President Obama blocked construction of the pipeline in January after a three-year application and review process.

Tray Smith

Tray Smith is a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. He's working as a reporter in the Center for Media and Public Policy.

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