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PRESS RELEASE: Heartland Institute Experts Comment on WA Bill That Would Stop Bakken Oil Shipments

May 3, 2019

“Just as the United States has become the largest crude oil producer in the world, this legislation would increase dependence on foreign oil.” - Tim Huelskamp


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, IL (May 3, 2019) – A bill that would put a “de facto ban” on the shipment of crude oil from the Bakken shale fields to refineries in Washington State is being condemned by North Dakota lawmakers as an infringement of interstate commerce. North Dakota’s two senators and single representative in Washington D.C. are calling on Gov. Jay Inslee to reject the legislation.

The Washington bill, currently awaiting Inslee’s signature, would mandate the vapor pressure of crude oil shipped by rail be 9 pounds per square inch (9 psi), much lower than North Dakota’s current requirement of 13.7 psi and the national recognized standard of 14.7 psi. North Dakota ships about 150,000 barrels of crude oil a day by rail to refineries in Washington.

The following statements from energy policy experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Media Specialist Billy Aouste at and 312/377-4000.

“Just as the United States has become the largest crude oil producer in the world, this legislation would increase dependence on foreign oil. I hope that the governor of Washington rejects this legislation and instead protects America’s workers and energy security.”

Tim Huelskamp, Ph.D.
The Heartland Institute

“These regulatory measures by Washington State are a direct attack on interstate commerce and American energy security. This legislation would harm American workers, as well as American energy independence.

“Washington serves as a major hub for crude oil exports with its extensive port facilities. Gov. Jay Inslee should consider his own state’s economy that experiences a $1 billion impact from crude exports, as well as the economies of his neighbors such as North Dakota and Montana, and promptly reject this imprudent and destructive legislation.”

George Jamerson
Director of Government Relations
The Heartland Institute

“This legislation is a restriction on interstate trade and a clear violation of the Constitution’s Commerce Clause. This draconian measure has no scientific justification and would force Bakken producers to cease operations, which would threaten American wages, jobs, and economic prosperity.

“Bakken crude production has been nothing short of an economic miracle, not only for North Dakota, but for the United States as a whole. The governor of Washington must reject any legislation that violates the constitution and threatens to infringe on American energy security and dominance.”

Bette Grande
Research Fellow, Energy Policy
The Heartland Institute

Ms. Grande represented the 41st District in the North Dakota Legislature from 1996 to 2014.

“No state should be allowed to block shipments of oil, gas, or any other good or service between states. That falls under interstate commerce, the regulation of which is delegated directly to the U.S. Congress in the Constitution. This will certainly waste state resources, time, manpower, and money, as court cases challenging this act will be filed and likely will be successful. Aside from the breach of the Constitution, Washington State’s bill will do nothing to help the climate, but it does hamstring efforts to diversify U.S. energy sources and outlets.

“Though it will employ lawyers defending the law, it will cost good-paying jobs in Washington and in states that would otherwise ship oil and gas there. Contrary to claims, this is not about health or safety – since there is no science showing current safeguards are inadequate. Rather it is about stifling U.S. energy development in an effort to prevent fossil fuel development and use.”

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow, Environment & Energy Policy
The Heartland Institute
Managing Editor, Environment & Climate News

The Heartland Institute is a 35-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our website or call 312/377-4000.

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Tim Huelskamp served as president of The Heartland Institute from 2017 to 2019.
Bette Grande is a State Government Relations Manager at The Heartland Institute. Prior to coming to Heartland, she served as a North Dakota state representative from 1996–2014, representing the 41st district. @BetteGrande
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D., is the Director of the Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.

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