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Minn. senator tours Oil Patch

Photo by Amy Dalrymple/Forum Communications Co. U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. listen to an oil field worker explain the mechanics of horizontal drilling during a tour of a rig Friday near Williston.

WILLISTON -- North Dakota isn't the only state benefiting from the oil boom, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar said Friday.

As the Minnesota Democrat toured the Williston area Friday, she noted several building projects being constructed by Minnesota companies.

"People don't always realize this isn't just good for the country because of the oil production and natural gas," Klobuchar said. "It's also good because we're bringing in jobs."

Klobuchar toured western North Dakota Friday with Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., to get a firsthand look at the oil and gas development and the infrastructure challenges facing the rapidly growing communities.

The senators toured a drilling rig near Williston and watched a demonstration of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. They also toured the Hess Corp. natural gas processing facility in Tioga.

Hoeven and Klobuchar are sponsoring the bipartisan Domestic Fuels Act of 2012, which seeks to make it easier to market all fuels and give consumers more choice at the pump.

Hoeven said he wants to enlist Klobuchar's support for continued energy development.

"We want to build the kind of energy policy for this country that we've built right here in North Dakota," Hoeven said. "That takes bipartisan support."

Klobuchar said leaders should focus on homegrown energy solutions.

"I'd rather be investing in the farmers and the workers of the Midwest instead of oil cartels of the Mideast," Klobuchar said. "That's what this is really about for the county. While it is a great thing for North Dakota, we have to remember that for states like Minnesota, eventually it's going to mean more oil, less dependency."

Russell Rankin, Williston regional manager for Statoil, said he was glad to be able to show the senators how a drilling rig operates.

"The more we can bring the true story of what we do and how prudently we do it, the better off we're going to be," Rankin said.

Hoeven and Klobuchar also surveyed some of the challenges facing Williston, such as the needs for road improvements, additional housing and increased resources for growing school districts.

"There are a lot of infrastructure impacts that go along with this kind of development, so it's important that we address those as well," Hoeven said.

Dalrymple is a Forum Communications Co. reporter stationed in the Oil Patch.