Republicans gave away too much oil revenue

Kenton Onstad


In response to the recent article by Sen. Rich Wardner and Rep. Al Carlson ” Big Ideas, big results” they make what could have been “So Simple” very complicated. You cannot deny the Bakken oil play has been a huge benefit to the entire state of North Dakota. At the beginning, our money coffers were very low and the development of our oil resources provided an opportunity to help many North Dakotans. We did that, but along the way, we helped a lot of non-North Dakotans as well.

The huge impact to western North Dakota could have been prevented by not allowing an open door to oil permitting and still receive the benefits. That decision alone by the Republican-controlled Industrial Commission gave oil companies a 5-year window to secure hundreds of thousands of leases.

“Drill Baby Drill” was the word and former governors John Hoeven and Jack Dalrymple both took credit for a booming economy and discovery of a natural resource that was there long before statehood. The “Drill Baby Drill” open door policy alone created turmoil amongst communities in Western North Dakota.

The Republican controlled Legislature wants to take credit for futuristic planning but in reality, as the sessions plugged away, it was mostly reactive rather than proactive. The State of North Dakota could have easily adopted the funding formula so that 40% would go back to western oil producing counties like our counterparts in adjoining oil producing states have adopted. Oil producing counties along with cities and counties would not have had to go begging each session and tell the same story; how the state needs to address the impact to cities, counties, townships and schools in western North Dakota, and the need for increased funding. Remember the actions to lower other revenue streams put a certain restraint on the growing state’s economy and very needy programs.

They would not have had to go around the entire state promoting a surge bill and fill it full of trinkets to entice eastern legislators for their vote. The need for the hub city concept would not have been necessary to address impacts on infrastructure. Sending small bits back to cities and counties in western North Dakota and praising the delivery as a huge investment by the Republican Legislature was misleading and inadequate.

It could have been so simple but we grew government and made it very complicated. There would have been plenty to improve infrastructure, support schools, counties and cities all across the state but remember the Republican controlled Legislature had to lower income and corporate taxes that went to a majority of entities outside the state of North Dakota.