The worst crash of North Dakota's oil economy in more than two decades began during the summer of 2020, as rising costs of energy production and consumption became heated political topics in Washington. During a press conference this week, Congressman Kelly Armstrong, R-ND, discussed the Biden administration's roll backs of Trump-era policies and stiff regulations aimed at domestic energy sources and highlighted the effects they have on his constituency and the country.
Armstrong joined Republican Whip Steve Scalise, R-LA, and House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, R-NY, to address the Biden administration’s energy crisis Tuesday during a public conference.
“Make no mistake… this is self-induced,” Armstrong said. “This is created by the Biden administration and you can start from where we started. First day in office, they canceled the Keystone XL Pipeline with our closest trading partner, our neighbor to the north — Canada. Then we move across the Atlantic Ocean and help Vladimir Putin and greenlight Nord Stream. We pass regulations that make it absolutely hostile to develop minerals on federal lands. Then the Biden administration begs OPEC to open the pumps back up. It’s no secret why this is happening and this is before we pass one single thing in this $3.5 trillion reconciliation package.”
Nationally, as of Oct. 25, the average price for fuel reached its highest level in more than 5 years at $3.47 per gallon. In January, national prices for fuel were approximately $2.40 per gallon — a 44.5% increase in 10 months. In April of 2020, gas prices had reached decade lows as averages fell below $1.87 per gallon nationally.
“North Dakota is an energy powerhouse. We have got notice from two of our utilities that people are going to pay upwards of $150 to $200 more for their energy costs this winter,” Armstrong said. “When you say you are not taxing anybody who makes under $400,000 per year, people who are paying $200 more to heat their home in North Dakota in the winter will disagree with you."
Several factors have brought the state's oil production to a near-standstill over the previous 15 months, including a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia, the coronavirus pandemic, the imposition of a northern border tariff between the United States and Canada and the recent Dakota Access Pipeline ruling.
In a previous Press article, Department of Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms noted that “the second quarter of 2020 was a five alarm fire for North Dakota's oil industry.”
The crash of 2020 was “significantly worse” than the market crashes of 2015 and 2016, when OPEC producers flooded global oil markets in an attempt to kill the American industry, and about on par with the crash of the late '90s, when offshore oil discoveries cratered global prices and took every drilling rig in North Dakota offline.
According to Armstrong, the Biden administration's implementation of policies structured at creating a greener environment has negatively affected consumerism in the United States.
“You have to be uniquely incompetent. This is bad for consumers, it’s bad for domestic energy producers and it’s bad for American workers. We are creating a policy that makes energy more expensive and puts us in a bad competition space on the world stage. It’s that simple. And on top of that, we’re moving toward these unrealistic climate goals that simply cannot be obtained in the time in which they say they do. My concern isn’t that they succeed, because they can’t succeed. My concern is that they fail and when they fail, consumers are going to pay more for energy, American companies and American workers are going to suffer,” he said, adding, “That’s exactly what’s going to happen as this moves forward. We need to talk about it and we need to be honest with the American people about it. Because their costs are going up whether it’s at the pump, or it’s to heat their house or to feed their families, and we’re not spending enough time talking about why that is.”