Pipeline Not A "With Us Or Against Us" Issue
Governor Burgum's comments regarding pipeline concerns are not productive or helpful to the industries named in statements.
Earlier this week, the Bismarck City Commission took action to send a unifying message supporting the position of the Burleigh County Commission regarding the proposed Summit Carbon Solutions carbon dioxide pipeline.
The Bismarck City Commission was appropriately convinced by the Bismarck-Mandan Home Builders’ Association that locating the CO2 pipeline so close to Bismarck’s growth area was indeed a danger to Bismarck’s ability to keep growing even if nothing bad ever actually happens - there will be a stigma to living/building near the pipeline.
It is widely expected that Burleigh County will be sued by Summit Carbon Solutions for their position of trying to protect the residents of the county on this issue - the company has filed lawsuits doing just that in South Dakota and they have begun to sue private landowners seeking access for surveying on the premise that eminent domain will eventually be used to take land for the project.
Problematic Quote and Attitude
Since the beginning of the discussion over the CO2 pipeline, there has been a fear by many elected officials that speaking up against this project would generate the kind of attention from the political figures that have gone all-in on making this pipeline work.
In the Bismarck Tribune’s article reporting the city’s action, one particular quote standout as confirmation of this fear that many have had for over a year.
"You can be against the (Summit) pipeline if you’re against coal, you’re against oil and gas, you’re against fertilizer, if you’re against sustainable aviation fuel and you’re against agriculture in general," the governor said. "If you’re against all the things that we do, then you can be against a CO2 pipeline."
Governor Burgum’s position that being against placing the pipeline so close to Bismarck is the same as being against coal, oil, and agriculture.
This attitude is not helpful to those industries.
If the residents of Burleigh County and North Dakota think that the government and corporate interests behind the pipeline are going to push around landowners and residents, that is only going to require those industries to spend more time and money on public relations. Many of these residents and landowners feel that their own rights are being forsaken to make this CO2 pipeline project happen.
The people who are objecting to the current route are farmers/ranchers in rural areas and in the urban areas property developers who are responsible for building the housing for a lot of the folks who work in the other industries.
Part of the North Dakota’s Green New Deal Agenda
Governor Burgum’s comments/attitude on this issue should not be a shock, long-time readers/listeners know that he has been pushing his version of The Green New Deal since the end of the 2021 legislative session.
The entire concept of carbon capture is a government program. It is not based on an actual market value or market demand. It is all part of a plan to chase what is called the 45Q tax credit. This tax credit is a boondoggle of the highest order. Not only is it designed to subsidize corporations, but has been totally mismanaged to the point where a billion dollars worth of credits were divvied out erroneously over the last decade.
The amazing part about the policy behind the policy driving the 45Q tax credit and this pipeline is that even the energy industry experts state flat out this won’t do what it is claiming to do.
In an article titled “Carbon capture 'simply won't work' to meet net-zero targets” the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis’s report states: "Many international bodies and national governments are relying on carbon capture in the fossil fuel sector to get to net-zero, and it simply won't work," study author Bruce Robertson said in a statement.
This is the equation the Governor Burgum is using to make North Dakota Carbon neutral by 2030: import carbon from other states, turn North Dakota into the landfill garbage dump for carbon, and say we are neutral.
Feds Pay More For Dumping Carbon Than Using Carbon
One thing that gets stated quite often is the claim that the 45Q tax credit only applies to storing CO2 in the ground - not for enhanced oil recovery.
This talking point is apparently not actually true.
The 45Q tax credit pays $60 per metric ton of CO2 used for enhanced oil recovery vs. $85/metric ton for just storing it. So the claim that the Federal tax credit won’t pay for EOR is not true - it just won’t pay as much. This totally debunks the claim that this policy and pipeline is for benefiting North Dakota’s oil industry.
The $85/metric ton credit may benefit the oil industry investors involved in the CO2 pipeline project, but that does not mean it will actually benefit the North Dakota oil industry.
One of the primary rebuttals of critics of the pipeline and pipeline route is the fact that it does not actually benefit North Dakota oil. And the reason it does not is that the federal government today pays $25/metric ton less if it does benefit oil. Federal policy is to reduce the use of both oil and coal - so it would be foolish and naive to think the federal government someday in the future is going to increase the subsidy for CO2 benefiting either oil or coal - the reverse is far more likely.
When elected officials say things like “if you don’t support X you must be against Y” that is a tactic to divide and demonize a population. Typically it is not good politics to promote a policy that divides in such a way that people are scared to voice their opinions.
North Dakotans in general, but particularly conservatives, should be very leery about embracing policies that claim to be silver bullets for the state’s economic interests. Being “pro-business” and being “pro-certain businesses” are two different things.
Crony-capitalism is not going to save North Dakota, neither is chasing a federal tax credit that is designed to promote a Green New Deal Agenda that the vast majority of North Dakotans don’t buy into, and certainly do not support their federal or state tax dollars funding. Or in the case of the 45Q tax credit, racking up more federal debt in the name of subsidizing certain companies to embrace The Green New Deal.