David Swenson, Bismarck
In the late 1960s I had the opportunity to meet members of the North Dakota Petroleum Council along with some of the original geologists and “wildcatters” who first drilled here. Back then the council encouraged consumers to use more oil as there was an “endless” supply of it. The NDPC helped to start the ill-fated Dakota Cup Regatta hydroplane races on Lake Sakakawea to encourage people to travel and use more gasoline.
When Sen. John Hoeven was our governor, I had the privilege of speaking with him privately about his economic vision for our state. I appreciated his singular view that without economic growth there was little hope for the progress he hoped to achieve. We are now all witnessing the success (and failures) of his efforts.
Recently, Lynn Helms spoke publicly about the future of oil here and said it will be many generations before oil development and reclamation are completed. None of us will live to see those days.
Through all of this I have learned that development policy supported by the oil industry is most often the policy enacted. They are more monied, more persistent and often more clever than any opposition they run into. It’s a fact one has to recognize and appreciate.
I encourage support of the Extraordinary Places policy. It is a very, very modest policy that announces we do have something here more important than profit, and that we recognize it. Future historians will scrutinize the decisions made by our generation and the consequences thereof. All of us bear the responsibility but our leaders are the ones who will be held accountable.
This may be the last opportunity to preserve any of what North Dakota was and is. Hoeven’s vision has been realized. We need to see a future beyond that.