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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND) promoted the economic benefits of fossil fuel energy jobs today at a Senate Banking Committee hearing on investing in rural communities. The senator began by highlighting the Revive Economic Growth and Reclaim Orphaned Wells (REGROW) Act of 2021, his bipartisan bill with Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) to create oil and gas jobs by plugging orphaned wells across America.

“The reason this is good for rural economies - and why it’s got a Republican and Democrat introducing it - is because it helps provide jobs cleaning up old oil and gas wells that were made long before there were reclamation laws and regulations,” said Senator Cramer. “There’s about 56,000 of them around the country, and Ben and I feel like this is a good opportunity for two parties to come together and do something constructive.”

Senator Cramer then pivoted to discussing the Dakota Access Pipeline, which helps rural communities by creating good-paying jobs and opportunities for the oil-producing Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara (MHA) Nation. The senator noted the benefits of moving oil by pipeline as opposed to less environmentally friendly methods.

“The Dakota Access Pipeline, which moves about 570,000 barrels of North Dakota oil per day to market, has been doing that safely for about four years,” said Senator Cramer. “The Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation are going to produce that oil. If it doesn’t move by a pipeline, and if the banks and financial institutions stop financing things like pipelines because of pressure from advocates, [the oil] is going to be trucked, it’s going to be railed, it’s going to go to the coast and get on barges. All of which emit many, many more greenhouse gases than a pipeline. Worse than that, it’s going to be produced in Russia or Venezuela or Nigeria.”

Senator Cramer concluded by highlighting how financial discrimination can harm rural communities, asking panelist Kathleen Sgamma, President of the Western Energy Alliance, if she has seen instances of financial providers refusing to do business with members of the energy industry. The senator is leading the Fair Access to Banking Act, which would prevent discrimination by financial service providers against law-abiding, credit-worthy businesses. 

“If we are going to have a serious discussion about rural economies, we have to talk about agriculture and energy production,” said Senator Cramer. “Have you seen any examples of the financial industry discriminating against [Western Energy Alliance members]? ”

“Certainly we have seen activists try to deny the industry of banking and financial resources,” replied Ms. Sgamma, “and that would mean less investment in rural areas.”

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