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Letter: Department of Energy innovations prime North Dakota energy industry for growth

Letter: Department of Energy innovations prime North Dakota energy industry for growth

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North Dakota is a land of almost limitless potential due to its abundant natural resources. As the nation’s number six overall energy producer, and the second-largest crude oil producer in the nation, North Dakota depends on robust oil, gas, and coal industries to maintain a healthy economy.

The Trump administration’s policies have unleashed American energy dominance, making our country the top global producer of both oil and natural gas. The pursuit of a true American energy policy benefited North Dakota, and its 90,000 energy industry workers, in the form of new jobs and higher wages.

But challenges persist. Oil demand disruptions due to global market instability and coronavirus stay-at-home orders and environmentalists’ attack on traditional energy sources leave North Dakota’s economy facing uncertainty in the future.

Future of energy industry in North Dakota

The good news is that as more states reopen, demand for energy is increasing. And there is widespread agreement that our most reliable energy sources, like oil and coal, will continue to play an important part in our energy future.

To return the energy industry to pre-virus levels, we remain focused on successfully implementing the policies that caused production across all sectors of our energy economy – including renewables, nuclear, oil and gas -- to hit record highs in 2019. These policies created a tax and regulatory environment that improved economic certainty and streamlined, straightforward permitting processes that together incentivize private investment in energy infrastructure.

Department of Energy research activities

Meanwhile, the Department of Energy is working to ensure the long-term competitiveness of the energy industry. The main way DOE supports energy producing states like North Dakota is through advancing innovative energy technologies that make exploration and production more efficient and power production cleaner. In fact, we spend billions of dollars every year on research and development to keep America the global leader in energy innovation. Currently, there are 26 active research activities underway in North Dakota that represent a DOE investment of more than $95 million. These activities focus on oil and gas production and the coal industry.

Oil and gas research

Oil production in the Bakken field typically recovers less than 10% of the oil in place in a given well, and as a result, DOE is involved in four joint industry-university research efforts aimed at enhancing the recovery potential of oil from Bakken using flare gas, carbon dioxide and other fluids. More efficient oil recovery ultimately means increased oil production over the life of a project and employment stability for North Dakota’s many oil well workers.

DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, our lab dedicated to fossil energy research and development, is advancing a host of projects around the country, backed by millions of dollars, to improve production, transportation and utilization of our nation’s abundant oil and natural gas resources.

North Dakota coal projects

Coal plays two important roles in our energy economy. The first is as a source of energy reliability and affordability in the United States. As the number eight coal producer in the nation, North Dakota relies on coal for more than 60% of its electricity generation. The second is as an energy export that helps countries like India and Japan meet their energy needs while keeping rates down for their consumers. To keep the industry competitive both domestically and globally, DOE is committed to making coal power cleaner and more efficient, while finding additional ways to extract non-power value from coal.

Our Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage Research and Development Program has a comprehensive portfolio of technological solutions that help keep CO2 emissions out of the atmosphere. We just announced approximately $72 million in federal funding to support the further development and advancement of carbon capture technologies. In North Dakota, 15 DOE Clean Coal and Carbon Management Office projects totaling over $130 million are underway, most of them led by the University of North Dakota’s Energy and Environmental Research Center.

The Trump administration and the Department of Energy are committed to the future success and viability of North Dakota’s oil, natural gas and coal industries because we know the critical role they play for the state and the nation. Through smart economic policies and world leading innovation, we will secure North Dakota’s place in America’s energy future.

Dan Brouillette is the United States Secretary of Energy.

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