What N. Dakota Knows that CA Doesn’t: The Real Boom is in Traditional Energy, Not “Green Jobs.”
How did North Dakota pull it off? Oil production has driven the recent boom. Drilling restrictions in Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico, and even Canada have given North Dakota an opportunity to expand its oil industry substantially. The state imposes no energy-efficiency resource standard for electricity or natural gas, and it has no mandatory statewide residential or commercial energy code. North Dakota lawmakers have let market demand dictate coal and oil production. According to North Dakota state senator John Hoeven, the state government’s approach to energy is to “develop all of our energy resources, both traditional and renewable . . . in a way where we incentivize new technologies to create more energy more dependably and more cost-effectively with good environmental stewardship.”
While California is rich in both conventional and renewable energy, gridlock in the state legislature has hampered development of these resources. Unlike North Dakota’s officials, who welcome the economic growth and new revenues, California lawmakers seem intent on reducing the state’s role in domestic oil production. Legislators have imposed laws much stricter than federal standards and worked aggressively to subsidize alternative energy sources and mandate their use. California law requires that the state obtain at least one-third of its energy from renewable sources such as wind, solar, and geothermal—and imposes onerous costs not only on businesses, but on every ratepayer and consumer in the state. One study projected that the law will cost the state economy $183 billion—a staggering burden for Californians already struggling under the highest energy prices in the nation.
By contrast, North Dakota’s underdog story illustrates how a different approach to public policy—and in particular, to traditional energy procurement—can bolster economic activity and job creation. While Golden State legislators bow to special interests and dither in a dream world where “green jobs” save the day, North Dakota is reaping the economic benefits of traditional energy production. It’s time California did the same."