Some new ND lawmakers readying bills of their own

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 4, 2012 at 5:39 pm •  Published: December 4, 2012

Vast amounts of natural gas, which is a byproduct of oil production in western North Dakota's oil country, is being burned off and wasted because of slower development of pipeline networks to bring the fuel to processing plants.

Natural gas prices have also declined nationwide as production ramps up, Kiefert said, making the fuel an attractive alternative for passenger cars and trucks, as well as city buses, garbage trucks and other vehicles that are normally driven within a limited area. It costs about $2 to buy compressed natural gas that would supply the same energy as a gallon of gasoline.

"That's something we could be putting into our vehicles, but the problem is, we don't have the refueling stations," he said. "They're not just developed yet, but once they're developed, there's a lot of vehicles that could be burning it."

Setting up a station can cost $500,000 or more, Kiefert said. "We could probably speed the process (of setting up a fueling network) by about five years," he said. "They are kind of spendy to put in."

Sen. Tom Campbell, R-Grafton, said he was considering ideas that would help ease North Dakota's labor shortage. Any proposal is still a few weeks away, he said Tuesday. The state's unemployment ranks among the nation's lowest, and competition for workers has forced up wages.

"We can do everything we want here with oil or ag or whatever, and if you don't have any employees, we're spinning our wheels," Campbell said.

Sinner and freshman Sen. Tyler Axness, D-West Fargo, said they also would advocate proposals to raise state tuition aid expenditures for low-income college students, establish a scholarship endowment fund and direct the state-owned Bank of North Dakota to provide lower interest rates for student loans.

"There needs to be a lot more emphasis on the state level on making sure college is affordable," Axness said Tuesday.