Let’s all be thankful Democrats haven’t been in charge of ND oil policy

“The for sale sign is out,” Whiting Petroleum Corp. CEO Brad Holly told the Denver Business Journal recently. “We’re trying to sell all our properties in Colorado.”

That’s a pretty big deal, because as it happens Whiting, founded in 1980, is actually headquartered in Colorado where it exists as the state’s largest oil company.

Why would a company like Whiting be abandoning the state it has called home for nearly four decades? Holly blamed the “regulatory environment” in Colorado, but added something important for North Dakotans to take note of.

“It’s different in North Dakota,” he said.

Those aren’t just words. As of December of 2017 the company had 617 million barrels of oil and gas reserves with 91 percent of those reserves located in North Dakota. Today Whiting is the second largest oil and gas operator in our state.

Holly may just now be acknowledging with words his company is moving on from Colorado, but the company’s actions have communicated this preference for a while now.

This election year we are going to hear from North Dakota’s Democrats and their various sympathizers and mouthpieces in the media that Republicans gave “big oil” a tax cut which contributed to the state’s budget headaches.

This is a falsehood. Democrats are hoping, with repetition, it will be something perceived as truth.

The actual truth is the oil tax reform passed during the 2015 session has resulted in more than $1 billion in additional state revenues since January 2016 when it took effect.

Leave it to our liberal friends to describe a more than $1 billion tax hike as a tax cut.

Democrats will also try to paint state policy makers in our Republican-dominated government as being in the pockets of the oil and gas industry. It might even be in the context of that supposedly “anti-corruption” ballot measure a left wing group called Represent.US is currently paying professional signature collectors to put on the statewide ballot in November.

We should remember Holly’s words when Democrats crank up that rhetoric.

“It’s different in North Dakota.”

It’s really true.

Here in North Dakota we don’t define environmentalism as the struggle to shut down industry. Here our policymakers seek to balance good stewardship of our land and waters with pragmatic development of our resources like oil and gas and coal.

We do a pretty good job of it, too.

It’s different in North Dakota because here we don’t treat industry — be it energy or agriculture or manufacturing — as the enemy. We treat them as partners toward a shared sort of prosperity.

Which is why a company like Whiting is leaving Colorado and doing business here.

Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, a North Dakota political blog, is a Forum Communications commentator. Follow him on Twitter at @RobPort

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