North Dakota is the nation’s nineteenth largest in area and fourth smallest by population, home to 760 thousand people with a land area of almost 70 thousand square miles. The Great Plains constitute most of North Dakota’s land; however, at the state’s border with Montana, the land transforms into the rocky Badlands

President James Buchanan signed the bill creating the Dakota Territory in 1861. It originally included the area covered today by North and South Dakota as well as Montana and Wyoming. In 1889, North Dakota became a state. “Dakota” is a Native American (Sioux) word for “friend.” There are four federally-recognized tribes in North Dakota today, among them the Standing Rock Sioux, who made headlines around the globe for their resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline amidst militarized construction efforts that the Tribe argued violated treaty rights. In July of 2020, the D.C. District Court ordered the owners of the DAPL to halt operations while the government conducts a full analysis of risks.

North Dakota is vulnerable to inland flooding, as precipitation is expected to continue increasing in the coming decades. In the Red River watershed, river flows during the worst flood of the year have been increasing by about 10% per decade since the 1920s. A changing climate will have varying effects on North Dakota’s agriculture. Warmer temperatures extend the growing season and may actually increase yields of crops like soybean and corn. However, over the next 70 years, the number of days above 100 degrees is expected to double in North Dakota, and these hotter conditions can dry soil and impact the health of crops. 

In 2019, coal accounted for 63% of North Dakota’s electricity generation and half of the state’s 10 largest power plants are coal-fired. Wind energy supplies about 27% of North Dakota’s electricity and has more than tripled in the past decade, with hydroelectric power supplying about 7%. Following the development of North Dakota’s shale oil resources in 2008, natural gas output began rapidly increasing and gross withdrawals surpassed 1 trillion cubic feet for the first time in 2019. The state’s current production now exceeds its ability to consume.North Dakota currently lacks a renewable energy standard or any kind of climate action plan.




State energy plans (SEPs) are developed in order to provide guidance for meeting current and future energy needs sustainably, reliably, and cost-effectively. While the motivations for developing a SEP are likely to vary across states,…


North Dakota State Profile and Energy Estimates

North Dakota has substantial fossil fuel and renewable energy resources. The state is the second-largest crude oil producer in the nation, after Texas, and also has significant coal reserves.

Energy State Bill Tracking Database

The searchable Energy Storage Legislation Database displays information in interactive maps and charts, tracking state activity from 2017 to the present.

Environment and Natural Resources State Bill Tracking Database

The National Conference of State Legislatures tracks environment and natural resources bills that have been introduced in the 50 states, territories and Washington, D.C.

More coal was consumed in Indiana than in all but two U.S. states in 2019

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) latest coal data, the 36.7 million short tons of coal consumed in Indiana during 2019 was more than any state in the nation besides Texas and North…

The First National Flood Risk Assessment

The First Street Foundation Flood Model represents the culmination of decades of research and development made possible by building upon existing knowledge and frameworks regularly referenced in the identification of flood risk.

The Impacts of Climate Change and the Trump Administration’s Anti-Environmental Agenda in North Dakota

Between 2017 and 2019, North Dakota experienced one severe flood and one intense drought. The damages of these events led to losses of at least $1 billion.

Preparing for Climate Change in North Dakota

The Georgetown Climate Center’s State Adaptation Progress Tracker, which tracks the progress of states in implementing their adaptation plans, is supported by the MacArthur Foundation.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s Litigation on the Dakota Access Pipeline

After carefully analyzing the seriousness of the government’s legal violations, and the potential impacts on the Tribe and third parties, today’s decision concluded that shutting down the pipeline was necessary.

State-by-State: Climate Change in North Dakota

North Dakota’s climate is already changing. In the past century, most of the state has warmed by 2°F. Rainstorms are becoming more intense, and annual rainfall is increasing. In the future, North Dakota can expect increasingly hot summers, which can…

North Dakota’s agriculture industry is vulnerable to climate change

North Dakota’s climate is already changing. In the past century, most of the state has warmed by 2°F. Rainstorms are becoming more intense, and annual rainfall is increasing. In the future, North Dakota can expect…

Environmental Law & Policy Center

North Dakota’s combination of environmental treasures, challenges and opportunities make the state a key part of ELPC’s advocacy to achieve environmental progress and economic development together.

What Climate Change Means for North Dakota

North Dakota’s climate is changing. In the past century, most of the state has warmed about two degrees (F). Rainstorms are becoming more intense, and annual rainfall is increasing. In the coming decades, longer growing…

Grande: Coal in context

With the push for renewable energy, North Dakota’s coal industry is being left out in the cold. The fact is that coal will provide electricity in our state for generations, and the sooner we accept…



GOP North Dakota senator says he wants to tackle climate change Facebook Twitter Flipboard Email

NPR's Steve Inskeep talks to Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota about climate change. Unlike some Republicans, Cramer says he's willing to combat the problem by reducing carbon emissions.

Burgum urges National Credit Union Administration to support ag lending, revise proposed strategic plan

Gov. Doug Burgum is urging the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) to remove language from its proposed 2022-2026 strategic plan that discourages credit unions from lending to farmers and ranchers. Citing “climate related financial risks,”…

Don’t penalize ag over climate change concerns, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum warns credit union agency

By Jenny Schlecht   01/25/22  
Don’t use climate change as an excuse to make credit unions quit working with farmers and ranchers, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum has urged the National Credit Union Association.

How coal holds on in America

By Joshua Partlow   01/17/22  
David Saggau, the chief executive of an energy cooperative, tried to explain the losing economics of running a coal-fired power plant to a North Dakota industry group more than a year ago.

Where electric cars could help save coal

By Will Englund   11/09/21  
Disdain for electric cars runs deep in this state. In the Bakken oil fields, which have brought enormous riches to North Dakota, workers fume at them on Facebook discussion groups, calling them “worthless” or worse.…

Basin Electric plans expansion of carbon capture system at synfuels plant

By Amy R. Sisk   09/09/21  
 Basin Electric Power Cooperative plans to expand the carbon capture system at its Great Plains Synfuels Plant near Beulah to contain as much as 70% of the carbon dioxide the facility generates.

This Summer Was Hotter Than The Dust Bowl—Or Any Other Since Records Began

By Graison Dangor   09/09/21  
This summer was as hot as the Dust Bowl Summer of 1936—and technically slightly hotter—the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Tuesday, making 2021’s the hottest since records began in 1895 and adding another milestone to a…

Otter Tail Power plans to pull out of North Dakota coal plant

By Jackie Crosby   09/02/21  
Otter Tail Power Co., a utility that covers western Minnesota, plans to pull out of a coal-fired plant it operates in North Dakota by 2028 as it moves toward adding more sources of renewable energy.

ND Transmission Authority Report shows wind power going up, and coal going down

By Jacob Notermann   08/30/21  
 North Dakota is among the largest energy producers in the county, and many state and industry leaders are trying to install more renewable sources into transmission lines.

North Dakota a top-10 state in renewable energy creation

By Michael Anthony   08/27/21  
 North Dakota’s electricity consumption primarily comes from Coal and Natural Gas, but over the past decade, many wind farms have begun to popup throughout the state.

‘The Worst Thing I Can Ever Remember’: How Drought Is Crushing Ranchers

By Henry Fountain   08/25/21  
Darrell Rice stood in a field of corn he’d planted in early June, to be harvested in the fall and chopped up to feed the hundreds of cows and calves he raises in central North…

‘The Worst Thing I Can Ever Remember’: How Drought Is Crushing Ranchers

By Henry Fountain   08/25/21  
 Darrell Rice stood in a field of corn he’d planted in early June, to be harvested in the fall and chopped up to feed the hundreds of cows and calves he raises in central North…

Stung by climate change: drought-weakened bee colonies shrink U.S. honey crop, threaten almonds

By Karl Plume   08/20/21  
There was barely a buzz in the air as John Miller pried the lid off of a crate, one of several "bee boxes" stacked in eight neat piles beside a cattle grazing pasture outside Gackle,…

Burying carbon dioxide deep in North Dakota’s geology may combat climate change. Is it financially feasible?

By Adam Willis   08/02/21  
North Dakota's budding roster of carbon capture projects aim to scrub the emissions of the state's coal and ethanol industries, and even achieve carbon negative oil production.

A Lifeline for a Coal Plant Gives Hope to a North Dakota Town.

By Dan Gearino   07/17/21  
In a town with fewer than 1,000 people, losing an employer tied to about 700 jobs is a kind of death, and that’s what Underwood, North Dakota, was facing until two weeks ago. Great River…

A Lifeline for a Coal Plant Gives Hope to a North Dakota Town. Others See It as a Boondoggle

By Dan Gearino   07/17/21  
In a town with fewer than 1,000 people, losing an employer tied to about 700 jobs is a kind of death, and that’s what Underwood, North Dakota, was facing until two weeks ago.

North Dakota sues federal govt over canceled oil and gas leasing

By Laila Kearney and Andrea Ricci   07/08/21  
 North Dakota is suing the U.S. government on claims the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management illegally canceled oil and gas lease auctions in the state.

North Dakota, Using Taxpayer Funds, Bailed Out Oil and Gas Companies by Plugging Abandoned Wells

By Nicholas Kusnetz   05/23/21  
When North Dakota directed more than $66 million in federal pandemic relief funds to clean up old oil and gas wells last year, it seemed like the type of program everyone could get behind. The…

Severe Drought, Worsened by Climate Change, Ravages the American West

By Henry Fountain   05/19/21  
Heat and shifting weather patterns have intensified wildfires and sharply reduced water supplies across the Southwest, the Pacific Coast and North Dakota.

As the Climate Warms, Could the U.S. Face Another Dust Bowl?

By Nathaniel Scharping   05/13/21  
Growing up in rural Iowa in the 1990s, Isaac Larsen remembers a unique herald of springtime. The snowbanks piled along roads, once white or gray, would turn black. The culprit was windblown dust, stirred from…

Gov. Doug Burgum calls for North Dakota to be carbon neutral by 2030

By Adam Willis   05/12/21  
Speaking to oil industry operators and executives, Gov. Doug Burgum announced a goal Wednesday, May 12, to get North Dakota to carbon neutrality by 2030 while retaining the core position of its fossil fuel industries.…

Federal Gov’t calls on N.D. lignite to answer domestic supply shortage of critical minerals

By Josh Meny   05/03/21  
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awarded $1.5 million to the University of North Dakota’s Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) to support the production of rare earth elements and critical minerals vital to the…

North Dakota lawmakers throw lifelines to the coal industry

By Adam Willis   05/02/21  
Preserving North Dakota's declining coal industry was a priority mission for state lawmakers when they arrived in Bismarck on Jan. 5, and in the months since, the Legislature has taken historic steps to slash taxes…

Global warming perceptions by state: Most Americans accept human fault

By Dante Chinni   04/26/21  
It's been more than 50 years since the words "Earth Day" entered the country's environmental lexicon, and polling data show there is an increasing understanding that humans do, in fact, play a large role in…

North Dakota governor approves fund for cleaner energy projects

By Adam Willis   04/26/21  
The creation of a fund overseen by a newly formed Clean Sustainable Energy Authority is part of broader efforts by North Dakota officials to respond to shifting political and financial winds that have put the…

Study: Drought-breaking rains more rare, erratic in US West

By Matthew Brown   04/07/21  
Rainstorms grew more erratic and droughts much longer across most of the U.S. West over the past half-century as climate change warmed the planet, according to a sweeping government study released Tuesday that concludes the…

Biden to pause oil and gas sales on public lands

By Matthew Daly   01/27/21  
President Joe Biden is set to announce a wide-ranging moratorium on new oil and gas leasing on U.S. lands and waters, as his administration moves quickly to reverse Trump administration policies on energy and the…

Update 4-u.S. Court ruling deals another blow to dakota crude pipeline

By Laila Kearney and Devika Krishna Kumar   01/26/21  
Jan 26 (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court dealt a blow to the Dakota Access crude oil pipeline on Tuesday, upholding a lower court’s decision to throw out a key federal permit and order a…

Federal court delivers blow to Dakota Access as Biden presidency leaves pipeline’s fate in question

By Adam Willis   01/26/21  
A federal appeals court upheld a ruling Tuesday, Jan. 26, requiring an additional environmental review of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a decision that could escalate pressure on the embattled project to shut down even as…

Biden has North Dakota energy officials pondering the future

By Amy R. Sisk   01/24/21  
The inauguration of Joe Biden as president has many who care about energy in North Dakota wondering what his administration will tackle first as it seeks to bring about a cleaner environment.

Legislation to allow extra-long trucks on North Dakota interstates advances

By Amy R. Sisk   01/22/21  
The North Dakota Senate on Friday shifted gears and advanced a bill aimed at allowing extra-long trucks on Interstate 94, despite a legislative committee recommending lawmakers put the brakes on the measure.

North Dakota lawmakers hope to spur clean energy investment with $25M fund

By Adam Willis   01/21/21  
The legislation comes as developers in North Dakota’s fossil fuel industry — and especially its coal sector — have vented about the increasing difficulty of attracting serious financial backing due to movement towards environmentally-conscious projects…

Fargo Climate Change Group Calling For Action From Biden

By Greg Neft   01/21/21  
A Fargo climate change group is calling for action from President Biden.  Supporters of People Over Profits marched yesterday evening in Fargo, wanting to see Biden follow through on promises to create change across the…

Dakota Access, Cabinet picks top of mind in North Dakota on eve of Biden presidency

By Amy R. Sisk   01/20/21  
The inauguration of Joe Biden as president has many who care about energy in North Dakota wondering what his administration will tackle first as it seeks to bring about a cleaner environment.

Wall Street’s climate concerns create cloud of financial uncertainty for North Dakota coal country

By Patrick Springer   01/15/21  
Insurance premiums that coal plants and mines pay for property and casualty insurance have risen anywhere from 20% to 100%, and the number of major insurance companies willing to cover the industry has dwindled to…

Coal vs. Wind

By Sam Easter   01/07/21  
Larry Thomas, the city commission president in Washburn, North Dakota, has been in the community his entire life, barely 10 minutes down the road from the hulking smokestacks of Coal Creek Station.

Merricourt Wind Farm Construction Complete

By Warren Abrahamson   12/28/20  
After years of planning and 17 months of construction, Otter Tail Power Company’s Merricourt Wind Energy Center is operational. Located in southeast North Dakota, blades are spinning on this 150-megawatt (MW) facility, harnessing some of…

North Dakota Sees Its One-Time Oil Gushers Stalled Until 2022

By Sheela Tobben   12/15/20  
North Dakota, once at the heart of the early shale boom, is now expecting oil production growth to stall over the next two years as explorers reel from a historic market crash and seek to…

New carbon capture project could help corn growers

By Morgan Benth   10/19/20  
A new carbon capture project across from the Blue Flint ethanol facility near Underwood, North Dakota has begun, in an effort to prevent the more than 200,000 tons of CO2 emissions the facility produces every…

Project Tundra backers respond to criticism of North Dakota carbon-capture project

By Andrew Weeks   10/17/20  
A proposed carbon-capture system that has the potential to prolong coal-burning plants and reduce emissions is making headway in North Dakota, but not without some controversy.

Hoeven helps N.D. ‘lead the way’ in carbon capture technology

By Ripon Advance News Service   10/15/20  
U.S. Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) on Oct. 13 helped kick off Midwest AgEnergy’s (MAG) Carbon Zero Initiative, a multi-phased approach to reducing the company’s carbon emissions to zero.

Enel Green Power starts construction of its second solar + storage project in North America

Enel, through its US renewable subsidiary Enel Green Power North America, started construction of the 284 MW1 Azure Sky solar + storage project, its second hybrid project in North America that integrates a renewable energy plant…

Enbridge Completes 12-Mile North Dakota Stretch Of Line 3

Enbridge Energy officials said Wednesday they have completed a small section of its Line 3 crude oil pipeline replacement project in North Dakota, leaving only the Minnesota stretch that has been challenged by state officials…

Companies show interest in buying major N.D. coal plant

By Andy Balaskovitz   10/08/20  
Critics in Michigan say a DTE Energy executive compensation mechanism incentivizes the prolonged use of fossil fuel plants while such incentives should be linked to decarbonization.

Solar and wind energy continue to grow in Midwest

By Andrew Weeks   10/06/20  
Everybody needs it – energy to power businesses and homes, to give light when it is dark, to help keep people cool in the summer and warm during the cold months.

Local electric utilities continue to offer, increase renewable energy

By Rebecca Mitchell   10/01/20  
As coal power plants close, including the planned shutdown in 2022 of the largest in North Dakota—Coal Creek Station which is owned by Great River Energy—the question is continuing to fill power needs with a…

McFeely: Report blasts expensive ND project meant to save coal plant

By Mike McFeely   09/28/20  
A new report blasts North Dakota's Project Tundra, calling the proposal to capture carbon dioxide emissions at an aging coal-fired power plant in the state "high risk" and "a step in the wrong direction" while…

As fossil fuel jobs falter, renewables come to the rescue

By Jeff Berardelli   09/25/20  
In 2011, Don Williams made the long trip from Michigan to North Dakota hoping to capitalize on the Bakken oil boom — to, as he says, "chase oil and make quick cash." It paid off;…

Federal investment to help rural North Dakota business

By Prairie Business   09/22/20  
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it is investing more than $10,000 to install LED lighting and an HVAC system in rural North Dakota. “Renewable energy options help open opportunities elsewhere, like creating jobs,” said…

Farmers and Ranchers in Crisis: Extreme Weather

Donnie lives near Keene, North Dakota and owns a farming/ranching operation. He farms multiple crops including wheat, oats, barley, canola, field peas, mustard, and corn. He’s been farming and ranching for over 30 years and lives…