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Conrad visits Dickinson

Sen. Kent Conrad sat down with officials from Marathon Oil in Dickinson Wednesday morning to talk oil and natural gas.

"They said that clearly we need additional investment in roads," Conrad said after the meeting. "I told them I'm trying to get, in the next highway bill, a recognition of these national energy areas and make it a priority program because it's in the national interest that we develop these resources to reduce our dependence on foreign oil."

Conrad also briefed them about the Fulfilling U.S. Energy Leadership Act, a proposal he recently introduced in the U.S. Senate.

"We have an all of the above approach to energy development," Conrad said. "That is conservation, domestic oil and gas development, coal, nuclear, as well as renewables, because when you're importing almost 60 percent of what you use and it's costing us $1 billion a day to buy foreign energy, one thing that would be incredibly important for our economy as well as our national security is to reduce what we're bringing in from abroad and that's what the FUEL Act is about."

They also discussed the Environmental Protection Agency's investigation of hydraulic fracturing.

"He clearly understands the importance of the Bakken," said Terry Kovacevich asset manager for Marathon said of Conrad. "One thing he clearly supports is making sure that hydraulic fracturing continues."

Kovacevich believes the study will show hydraulic fracturing is safe, since he said oil companies follow regulations which keep the process from contaminating water.

The meeting was closed to the public because Marathon officials discussed proprietary issues, Conrad said.

"There's a healthy competition here and they don't want to reveal things that might put them at a competitive disadvantage," Conrad said. "They're things that are important for me to know."

Marathon officials also told Conrad about its plan to expand, Kovacevich said.

"We have a very significant forward-looking plan that we'll be investing a significant amount of money for the next eight years," he added.

Conrad also stopped for meetings in Bismarck, Williston and Minot Wednesday.