Petroleum interests go green, for common good

The petroleum industry gets a lot of bad press these days – only some of which has any basis in objective facts. Much of the criticism seems more political than practical. After all, the energy sector has thus far avoided takeover by the federal government, unlike healthcare and banking most recently. Free market industry is anathema, strangely, to a significant portion of the population, even if all U.S. prosperity is based on that principle.

Whatever the reason, the sector rarely sees positive coverage – even when warranted.

For example, unless you read a brief in last week’s Minot Daily News, you might not be familiar with the Planting for the Future program. The North Dakota Petroleum Council kicked off its Planting for the Future pilot program on Thursday, planting 3,000 trees for habitat in Kidder County. The program is a partnership with the Outdoor Heritage Fund, ONEOK, Whiting Petroleum and private landowners to plant 58,000 trees and shrubs this year that will help with conservation, soil preservation and habitat for deer, pheasants and other wildlife.

Twenty-two additional projects are expected to be completed within the next few weeks in a number of counties around the state. The program will provide the trees, shrubs, and planting and monitoring services, while landowners will offer planting assistance and other in-kind contributions to complete the planting. The program is open to accepting volunteers who wish to help with this environmental project and donations are being accepted for projects in 2019 and beyond.

Greening North Dakota is an admirable and beneficial objective. According to the North Dakota State Forest Service’s Biennial Forest Health Report, less than 2 percent of North Dakota’s land is forested and of that, about 68 percent of North Dakota’s forest land is privately owned, emphasizing the importance of private landowners in the management of North Dakota’s forest resources.

Planting for the Future strives to advance a vital public interest without state funding. Given tight budgets at all levels of government, it is a boon for residents for which they are not directly paying. The same is true of every public sector contribution to community projects and charity. Americans are the most charitable people in the world. But it isn’t just charitable individuals – it is also American industry.

Even if you have to search and search to find the news.