Armstrong leads colleagues on Bakken tour to show state’s role in energy policy

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The United States and its allies are dealing with threats and attacks from Iran, raising concerns about war, and also gas prices. But experts say tensions in the Middle East shouldn't have a big effect- part of the reason is the country’s increasing ability to produce oil.

North Dakota produces 1.4 million barrels of oil per day, and Rep. Kelly Armstrong, R-North Dakota, is showing colleagues how the Bakken plays into the market and national security. The group is called the House Energy Action Team- or HEAT. It's made up of republican representatives focusing on energy policy. Armstrong says the Bakken is critical to the economic and national security of America. HEAT seems to agree, but with a minority in the House, it'll take some effort to convince their colleagues in Washington.

The North Dakota Petroleum Council turned a meeting with out-of-state congressional reps into a show and tell, and smell, about the Bakken. Representatives got to see and feel the rocks companies drill through to harvest the oil, and smell what comes out of the ground. State leaders say oil production in the Peace Garden State leads to peace at home.

“I think the easiest way is to say what we do in North Dakota is keeping their energy costs down and help feeding and fuel their economy as well,” said Armstrong.

One point four million barrels of oil come from the state every day. State regulators say the U.S. is now the number one oil producing country in the world. Armstrong and Congressman Jeff Duncan, R-South Carolina, say as America continues to increase its production capabilities, foreign variables become less problematic.

“Typically when those types of things have happened in the past, the price of oil would go up 30 percent and stay there for months at a time. While price is always volatile, we haven't seen those kind of spikes right now and that's because of shale formations right here in the United States,” said Armstrong.

“America is increasing its energy production- that’s a national security issue. There is no national security without energy security,” said Duncan. “North Dakota is playing a big part of that.”

Duncan represents the Northwest part of South Carolina. He says the state has a lot of manufacturing which needs stable power. He says about half comes from nuclear, but he sees potential- for his state and the world- on North Dakota natural gas.

Duncan: "As America continues to increase its supply, that will help meet global demand and help keep prices down for our consumers. Ultimately the price our constituents is a big part of how much discretionary income they have at the end of the day," said Duncan.

Before any changes go through Washington, House republicans need to get House Democrats to go along with them. Climate change and the environmental impacts will inevitably be part of the discussion. Duncan believes the best way to lower the carbon footprint is for the government to take two steps back.

“Americans are good stewards of the environment, regardless of how the democrats want to spin it. We’re lowering our carbon footprint across the board here in America. It’s not because of heavy-handed government policies, it’s because of private intervention and innovation,” said Duncan.

Armstrong says there’s an open invitation to Democrats to tour the Bakken.

“My old state senate district has an ethanol plant, the largest wind farm in North Dakota. We grow all the cereals, have a huge livestock industry and the first small refinery permitted since 1976,” Armstrong said. “I’ve offered if they want to see all of the above energy, I’ll have them to my house for dinner and we wouldn’t have to drive farther than 50 miles to see it all.”