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Wardner outlines plans for Energy and Transmission Committee studies

Dave Thompson
Prairie Public

The chairman of the Legislature’s interim Energy Development and Transmission Committee said that panel will be very busy, tackling a number of issues in the energy industry.

Topping the list: addressing the flaring of natural gas.

"If we don't, it's going to limit oil production," said Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson).

Wardner told the Committee it’s also against North Dakota’s nature to waste anything, let alone natural gas.

"Most of us still have ties to the '30s," Wardner said. "I mean, it was our parents or grandparents that went through those years. We understand not wasting."

Wardner says this will mean looking at pipeline capacity, and gas processing – plus looking at the potential for a petrochemical industry. He recently toured a petrochemical plant in Canada. And he said North Dakota could be a good fit for that industry.

"No matter what, we're going to get more oil production in the state because of that," Wardner said. "And that's going to bring more resources back to the state of North Dakota in terms of oil taxes."

Wardner told the Committee he knows Dow Chemical is interested, and there are others exploring the idea of opening a North Dakota plant.

Another top issue, according to Wardner, is workforce. He said a big part of that is having good schools available, to attract families.

"We have shifted from a service company-type situation out in the Oil Patch," Wardner said. "They're bringing their families. They want a good place for their kids to go to school. If they don't, they're not coming."

Wardner said a recent meeting was held in Williston for all the school districts in Williams County – to find out what the needs are, and how to address those needs.

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