A Tale of Two States

by William Yeatman on November 21, 2011

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Yesterday morning, television magazine energyNOW! ran a surprisingly* good segment on the oil boom in North Dakota. Long story short: technological advances in drilling have made possible the recovery of vast reserves of oil, which has caused tremendous job creation. According to the segment, the average oil and gas worker makes $75,000, and there is a huge demand for labor. The whole northwestern part of the state is like a wild-west mining town. At one point, a supervisor at one rig offered a job to the energyNOW! cameraman. As a result of this oil rush, North Dakota has the lowest unemployment rate in the country–a paltry 3.5 percent.

Compare this to California. Despite possessing mineral wealth, the Golden State wants nothing to do with the production of “dirty” hydrocarbons. Instead, it is the self-proclaimed leader in expensive “clean” energy technologies, like wind turbines and electric cars. To that end, the State next month is expected to finalize a cap-and-trade energy rationing scheme. The idea is to make conventional, hydrocarbon energy more expensive, and thereby boost demand for green energy. The cap-and-trade scheme was originally planned to have been a regional policy, but last week, Arizona became the sixth State (after New Mexico, Washington, Oregon, Montana and Utah) to withdraw. In a statement, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality said it acted to “[avoid] the economic costs to industries that are subject to cap and trade.”  Now, California will absorb these “economic costs” alone. This energy tax will only worsen the state’s unemployment rate: 11.9 percent, second worst in the nation.

*I say “surprisingly,” because energyNOW usually runs interviews with green energy lobbyists. Platts Energy Week with Bill Lovelace, the only other television magazine given to the energy sector, is far superior.

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