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The Crude Life: American Petroleum Institute talks environment and industry’s future

The American Petroleum Institute in Dickinson hosted their monthly meeting at the Roosevelt Grand Dakota Hotel on Tues. Feb. 23, and discussed the state of fundraising for scholarships, the promotion of education and more.

Pump-jack mining crude oil with the sunset
Photo by Zbynek Burival on Unsplash

The American Petroleum Institute in Dickinson hosted their monthly meeting at the Roosevelt Grand Dakota Hotel on Tues. Feb. 23, and discussed the state of fundraising for scholarships, the promotion of education and more.

Festivities began at 6 p.m. with what Dickinson API President Mark Tangen referred to as ‘the social hour,’ followed by a buffet style meal with a bar sponsored by G&G Garbage in Dickinson.

Host of The Crude Life podcast, Jason Spiess spoke at the event and described his podcast as a platform for the industry and one that he said he believes involves most of the U.S. population.

“If you use a toothbrush in the morning...if you drive your car...if you have heat your house, you’re part of the industry, that’s how we look at it at The Crude Life,” Spiess said of his podcast which is available on iTunes, Google Play and Spotify.

The company decided to market the idea and according to Spiess, with great success.

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In his talk, Spiess said he and his crew have been invited to all manner of events from parades to tree plantings. In addition to the podcast, The Crude Life is also aired on various radio stations throughout North and South Dakota and Wyoming.

A journalist by trade, Spiess knows all about how public perception can affect industries — positively and negatively. As a young journalist seeking to expose what he believed to be a thoroughly corrupt oil and natural gas industry, Spiess found that through his investigation of the industry, he had an epiphany that changed his life forever.

“The oil and gas industry is really up front with what they are, they’re coming here to make money and they’re gonna allow a community to have an opportunity to make money and build their community,” Spiess said.

The pitfalls and shortcomings of oil and natural gas companies are something Spiess readily acknowledges even going so far as to highlight the BP Explosion or the “Deepwater Horizon Spill” of 2010, but he then praised the oil companies for intervening so quickly and creating many more preventative measures.

“The (oil and natural gas) not only reacted, they almost overreacted...that’s progress, that’s how you evolve as a society...if you don’t allow an opportunity for an explosion to happen from time to time,...you don’t know how to be preventative so that it doesn’t keep happening,” Spiess said.

He then compared the above catastrophes to catastrophes related to the agriculture industry.

Spiess said he is a believer in climate change, but is not a ‘climate activist,” saying he believes the Earth is warming and human activity is a contributing factor — However, he does not agree with the solutions being proposed by politicians and activists on the subject. He claims climate activism in its current form would fall under the anthropological definition of a ‘cult’ or ‘religion.’

Regarding climate change, Spiess said he believes innovation within the industry to be a solution, not those from without. Not using crude would have allowed greater environmental calamities to occur, Spiess believes.

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“The energy industry has been decarbonizing for 150 years on its own...The oil and gas industry saved the whales. If it wasn’t for the oil and gas industry, the whales would be dead because we’d still be heating our homes with whales,” Spiess said.

Wind turbines and solar panels are environmental hazards, according to Spiess. He mentioned a current case in Iowa where a wind company and their wind turbines have contributed to the skyrocketing mortality rate of birds.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website, an estimated 140,000 to 500,000 bird deaths per year are owed to wind turbines. Raptors, the Wildlife Service said, made up the second largest mortality group with eagles, hawks, and falcons contained within the category of “raptors.”

While not a self-defined climate activist by any means, Spiess said he does care very much about the environment and has throughout his life. Moved by what seemed to him a devastating report from Clemson University regarding the life and health of artificially planted trees, he decided to do something about it.

He and his team are going to build sustainability sheds used to keep the newly planted trees healthy and vibrant after being planted — the kicker? It will use oil-related technology.

Spiess said Mayor Steve Bakken of Bismarck said he wanted the first industrial forest to be in Bismarck, something Spiess and his team will be meeting with the forestry department in Bismarck to hopefully move things along.

Spiess’ show can also be found on various radio stations in the western United States. For more information, visit http://www.thecrudelife.com/contact-us/ .

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