Joe Miller Column: North Dakota Opportunists Seek To Divide Oil, Agriculture


North Dakota is blessed with great fortune and opportunity.  Our state, like our nation was founded on a vision of hope, but not without out hard work.  North Dakotans know well the virtues of hard work and steadfast determination that  yield results such as those that we can benefit from today.

The last several years have been superb for commodity markets.  Oil and Agriculture have seen tremendous rise in prominence.  Not only is North Dakota feeding the hungry of the world; we are fueling their development as well.  This is our moment to rise.

Creating the product for the market is one thing.  Getting that product to the end user is an entirely separate issue.  There is no doubt that we are in short supply of the means to transport our goods to market. Oil, coal and grain all need rail to move, but oil can also move in a pipeline.

Recently, partisans have been attacking oil companies and rail companies for not supplying enough rail cars to support the agriculture markets.  Clearly the attack is based on some truth because the elevators are full.  Perhaps, we need to look beyond an opportunist’s rhetoric and instead focus on the underlying challenges and problems.

First and foremost, North Dakota is a top producer of many products.  We are producing wheat, corn, soybeans, edible beans, canola, crude oil, refined oil, natural gas, coal, and other products in record numbers.  We have never seen this before.

Second, various limitations on new pipeline construction has unnecessarily shifted the burden of oil transport to the rails.  Many of these limitations could be lifted by a stroke of the pen of our President, yet he shows no will to help the brightest star shining on the Great Banner.

Third, the taxation policies of our nation are confiscatory.  We no longer encourage new business development, but only consolidation of the very wealthy and powerful.  We have few major railways in this nation and really no plans to truly expand our capacity to transport goods by rail, which is a proven, cost-effective model.  Our taxation policies reward the lazy, punish the hard working and benefit the well off.

Fourth, the state of North Dakota needs to take a new lead.  We can no longer wait for Washington to take action and fix the problems that plague the state.  North Dakota needs to ignore Washington wherever and whenever it sets up road blocks and forge ahead with or without them.  We must begin by creating climates that make this state the number one place to do business in the world.   Suspension of the income tax should be the first step.

Fifth, due to the overwhelming cost to construct pipelines and railways, we need to utilize our financial strength and the Bank of North Dakota to setup low interest loans, grants and legal pathways to help facilitate expansion and improvement of our transportation capacity. Here in North Dakota but also beyond our borders.  We need to also encourage the use of products with in our state, such as natural gas, and value-added endeavors, such as fertilizer manufacturing and oil refining.

These steps are not conclusive.  Many other projects must be tackled.  Above all we must not cast blame and drive political wedges between ourselves as some partisans are attempting to do in recent campaign speeches.  If we have courage and seek solutions together we will rise to the occasion!