Survey Shows Support, Identifies Issues Ahead

By Tessa Sandstrom | June 24, 2013

From becoming the second largest oil producer in the nation to being recognized as the best state for young adults, North Dakota has broken records and achieved national rankings in 2012 that are unprecedented. For the third year in a row, North Dakota has had the fastest- growing economy in the nation at a rate of 13.4 percent, far out-pacing the national average of 2.5 percent. Our state continues to enjoy low unemployment, and is helping lead the way to energy independence. The petroleum industry is a contributor to our state’s significant growth, and this is a major reason why 89 percent of North Dakotans support oil and gas development in the state, with more than half strongly favoring it.

This is according to an annual survey commissioned by the North Dakota Petroleum Council to help its members better gauge how citizens feel about oil and gas development in the state. The study also helps identify key issues and challenges that we will face as we prepare for another busy summer of oil and gas development and construction to repair and rebuild many of our heavily traveled roads. 

By now, many of us are well aware of the positive economic impacts oil and gas development has had on our state. Rural North Dakota communities that were once in decline are now burgeoning with new businesses, homes, families and growing school enrollments, even as far away as Grafton in northeast North Dakota.

This growth presents its own challenges, however, as these small communities work to accommodate the increase in people and traffic. Our survey found that more than 70 percent of North Dakotans are concerned about the truck traffic on roads and the cost and availability of housing. In addition, about half are also concerned about the flaring of natural gas.

The North Dakota Petroleum Council and our members also share these concerns, and over the past few years, we have been working with state and local leaders to help make progress on these issues. In addition, with many oil production leases now held, activity in the Bakken is stabilizing, allowing construction to catch up. Many North Dakotans have taken note, with 45 percent agreeing that we are making progress on roads and highways and 60 percent agreeing that we are making progress in affordable housing.

But, our work is not done.

In the coming year, we will be working hard to get the infrastructure in place we need to capture more natural gas and transport more crude oil through pipelines. Building this infrastructure is vital in getting trucks off our roads so we can invest less of our resources in repairing and rebuilding roads and invest more on schools, law enforcement, flood protection and affordable housing and assistance for our elderly and most vulnerable people.

We agree that North Dakota has its challenges, but we, like many North Dakotans, also consider ourselves fortunate. While much of the nation struggles with a stagnant economy and high unemployment, North Dakota’s challenges are those of growth. These are good challenges to have, and 72 percent of North Dakotans agree that the benefits of oil development and the economic development that comes with it outweigh the risks and impacts.

Author: Tessa Sandstrom
Communications Manager, 
North Dakota Petroleum Council