North Dakota Oil Industry Possible Haven Amid Economic Cuts

North Dakota Oil Industry Possible Haven Amid Economic Cuts

Oil-rich North Dakota is well positioned to weather automatic federal spending cuts if it is forced to do so, the state's top budget official said Thursday.

Republicans and Democrats in Congress and President Barack Obama are at odds over how to reduce the nation's debt by Friday, when $85 billion in across-the-board, automatic federal cuts would kick in. North Dakota may lose about $20 million in federal funding in fiscal 2013 if an agreement is not reached, said Pam Sharp, the state budget director.

As the debate intensifies in Washington, most states are bracing for the potential shortfall and scrambling to find funds to fill gaps. In North Dakota, Sharp said it's barely a concern.

"We'd experience minimal impact," she said.

Record oil production has made North Dakota the nation's No. 2 oil producer behind Texas. The state leads the nation in population growth, boasts the lowest unemployment rate in the nation and has thousands more jobs than takers. Oil revenues and skyrocketing sales and income taxes are injecting billions of dollars into the state treasury.