To the editor:
Sen. Tim Mathern and other legislators’ (including Rep. Kenton Onstad and Rep. Shirley Meyer) proposal to build a state-owned refinery is either intended to be misleading, or they are seriously uninformed.
In an attempt to sell this proposal to the public, they have made many believe that private companies are either not interested in building a refinery here, or the state has been unsupportive. In both circumstances, this is not the case.
In reality, the state is already assisting two potential refinery projects. Even as Mathern is proposing a study group, Gov. Hoeven has worked through the Oil and Gas Research Fund to assist a company that has proposed building a refinery near Williston. The state has also assisted the Three Affiliated Tribes in studying the construction of a refinery near Makoti, N.D.
In addition to assisting interested companies, the state, through the Empower N.D. Commission created in 2002, has looked into an innovative project that would produce gasoline from coal. Empower ND Commission is study all facets of the energy industry from production, generation, refining, transportation, transmission of traditional energy and renewable energy.
Another issue is the state already refines more oil than it consumes, making marketing the product a top priority. To do so, we need the proper infrastructure and a Pipeline Authority has already begun studying our options.
Above all, we need to remember a state-owned refinery would mean not only competing with the projects already under way, but we would be risking more than $2.5 billion in tax dollars to enter a volatile industry with no guarantee of results. We need to ask ourselves if we are willing to risk fiscal and economic stability for what, in the end, is no more than a few politicians’ pipe dream.
We also need to applaud our present administration for having the foresight to be looking at all of the opportunities the energy industry provides for the state of North Dakota.