Ideas and Oil: Redux and Remix

Some months ago, I laid out a three tiered plan for North Dakota’s Future here. That plan is fairly simple: 1) build refineries in North Dakota or on the northern Great Plains capable of refining everything pulled out of the famous Bakken and anything that comes down from Canada (some of those refineries are being built; more are needed) so North Dakota receives dollars instead of nickels for the inevitable destruction that comes with petroleum extraction; 2) North Dakota’s public and private leadership works with Minnesota’s public and private leadership to figure out a way to pipeline the refined stuff to world markets through the deep-water port of Duluth, Minnesota 3) with those dollars, North Dakota can build a multi-billion dollar research library, and one of the R&D mission statements of this library would be to foster the future development of green sources of energy.

Oil derricks in northwestern North Dakota, August 2012.

Instead, today you’ll notice this story that again calls for the construction of a huge pipeline through our North Dakota living rooms (it’s not in our backyards — it’s running right between our coffee tables and bookshelves). If you go with — ahem — my plan, it’s unnecessary to even have to build more pipelines (several already exist) north-south across central Great Plains aquifers. We’ll build refineries here instead, and pipeline the stuff out through the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway.

A substructure of industry is required to support the superstructure of culture, including huge multi-billion dollar research libraries. If you build it, they will come. Build the refineries. Then build the huge research libraries in North Dakota. This instead of more plans from our private and public leadership that call for pumping our northern Great Plains non-renewable resource down to the oil barons of the southern Plains. A TransCanada pipeline is a money tube that runs from our northern Plains pockets down to the pockets of already wealthy oil barons in Texas and Oklahoma. Those nice folks already have their Gulf of Mexico oil fields. Why do they need to suck on ours? Let’s keep it here.


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