Unheralded

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Never Mind

Well, that was a waste of time. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a letter to North Dakota Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak and sent copies to her fellow commissioners,, Randy Christmann and Brian Kroshus, asking them to assume jurisdiction over the Davis Refinery project being proposed for construction beside Theodore Roosevelt National Park. I also wrote here asking …


Unheralded

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Don’t Do It, Julie; Don’t Back Down

A letter to North Dakota Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak. Don’t do it. Don’t just blindly accept the recommendation of an administrative law judge to reject the idea that you could assume jurisdiction over the Davis Refinery, which Meridian Energy wants to build three miles from Theodore Roosevelt National Park. That judge based his recommendation on a strict reading of …


JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Conservation Groups To Refinery: ‘Cease And Desist!’

Lest we let the threat of an oil refinery beside Theodore Roosevelt National Park slip from our minds as we go about our busy fall lives, here’s an update on where things stand right now. Meridian Energy has started dirt work at the site beside Interstate 94 on the road into the park, flouting the attempt by conservation groups to …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Who Wants To Invest In A Refinery? Here’s How You Can Do It

I wrote here a couple of weeks go about the beginning of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, created by Congress in 1947, and about the proposed oil refinery that threatens it, a refinery that has now been issued a permit by the state of North Dakota to build the dang thing. It’s been 70 years since Congress declared that this place …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Wayne Stenehjem: Public Lands Enemy No. 1

We’ve got a million acres of public land, most of it excellent wildlife habitat, in western North Dakota, owned and managed by the U.S. government, which means you and me. I know, you’ve read those words before in my writings. Sorry, but I’m going to keep talking about this UNTIL SOMEBODY LISTENS! There’s a huge overlap between those public lands …

RON SCHALOW: Kevin Cramer’s Criminal Choice 

There are many public servants and oil executives to blame for their silence but only Kevin Cramer, Mr. North Dakota way, thinks he deserves a seat in the United States Senate. So, he has to answer for his failures. “It took “more than 1,000 firefighters from 80 different municipalities in Quebec and from six counties in the state of Maine” …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Another Set Of Eyes On Our Wild Bad Lands

North Dakota has more than a million acres of public land, most of it in western North Dakota, our Little Missouri National Grasslands, managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Most of it is grazing land, although it’s grazed by more than cattle and sheep. Pretty much every creature that lives in North Dakota has a presence there. For some — …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Whither The Measure 6 Coalition?

Word comes this week that the organizing committee for a group of North Dakotans who want to raise North Dakota’s Oil Extraction Tax back to the level it was at before the Legislature cut it in 2015 has decided to postpone its initiated measure campaign. Postpone but not abandon. A wise choice, I’d say. Although the group already has its …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Some Questions For The Refinery People

NDCC 49-22.1-02:  “Statement of policy. The legislative assembly finds the construction of energy conversion facilities … affects the environment and the welfare of the citizens of this state. It is necessary to ensure the location, construction and operation of energy conversion facilities … will produce minimal adverse effects on the environment and the welfare of the citizens of this state …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Refinery Near National Park Gets Preliminary OK

Tuesday’s announcement by the North Dakota Department of Health that it is preparing to issue an Air Quality Permit to Meridian Energy to build the Davis Oil Refinery three miles from Theodore Roosevelt National Park should come as no surprise. Once again, the state of North Dakota rolls over to the energy industry, but this time it’s threatening more than …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Halek Sentence: Probation And A Halfway House

My old friend, Darrell Dorgan, and I decided to sit in on the sentencing hearing for Jason Halek on Monday morning. A couple of old, retired newsmen, we both went there thinking we were going to see the full measure of the law applied to a Texas con man responsible for one of the biggest pollution violations in North Dakota …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Maybe The Halek Case Is Over; Maybe

If everything goes as planned Monday morning (which would be unusual — nothing much has gone as planned in this case) Jason Halek will walk into the federal courthouse in Bismarck tomorrow morning as a free man, and walk out— figuratively, if not literally — in handcuffs, headed for a federal prison. You’ve read about Halek here many times before. …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Crying Over Spilt Oil — And Brine

OK, when technology fails you, sometimes you just have to do things the old fashioned way. I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the North Dakota Department of Health’s Environmental Incident database and how difficult it is to track the performance of various oil companies. I haven’t heard back from the governor yet, and being an impatient Norwegian, I …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — A Simple Request To The Governor: Let’s Get Technical

Dear Gov. Burgum, I am writing to you today about transparency. Transparency in government. Transparency in North Dakota government. Transparency in North Dakota government as it relates to our environment and environmental protection. You’ve said often you believe in transparency. Here’s a chance to prove it. You’re a new governor this year, and you come from the world of high …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Halek Sentencing Delayed Again

If you’ve been following the saga of Jason Halek on my blog for the last four years, you know that on July 31 he was supposed to be sent off to jail for dumping 800,000 gallons of poisonous oilfield brine down an abandoned well south of Dickinson. I last wrote about him on April 13, the day he pleaded guilty …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Van Hook Oil Pad Upate

A couple of months ago, I wrote about an oil well pad at the top of the Van Hook boat ramp on Lake Sakakawea. I’ve learned a few things about it since then. First, the basics. There’s a little blue-collar resort community at the top of the Van Hook Arm of Lake Sakakawea, a couple of hundred trailers and cabins …

RON SCHALOW: Port Whine, Part 1

I’m not sure how many days since Rob Port, famed columnist, political pundit and radio personality was featured on the Forum’s front page, but I’m still blind in my left eye. Seriously, I was a little startled to see Port’s mug on the front page of the Fargo Forum, for more reasons than one. Port’s visage always makes me jump, …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — The Newest Bridge Across The Little Missouri State Scenic River. What The …?

For the past 50 years or so, there have been just five places where you can drive your car across a bridge over the Little Missouri State Scenic River: in Marmarth on U.S. Highway 12, on Pacific Avenue in the city of Medora, on Interstate 94 just north of Medora (two bridges, one going each way), on U.S. Highway 85 south of …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Refinery Company To PSC: ‘Screw You’

Of all the sleazy companies to show up in North Dakota’s oil patch in the nearly 10 years since the Bakken Boom began, the sleaziest of them all has to be Meridian Energy, the company proposing to build an oil refinery called the Davis Refinery just three miles from Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  Here’s why I say that. Normally, when a …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — The Sellout Of Van Hook Park

WARNING: In this article, I’m going to rip some North Dakota politicians a new one. This isn’t personal, and it isn’t partisan. They’ve got it coming because of malfeasance in office. I’m not going to pull any punches. They deserve it. I know I’ve been pretty critical of some of our state’s leaders lately. Sorry. But we’ve got some really …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — The Little Missouri State Scenic River Is In Trouble Again

North Dakota’s Little Missouri State Scenic River lost most of its scenic protection this week when Gov. Doug Burgum reversed course and joined the members of his State Water Commission in opening the entire river to industrial water development. Last month, Burgum declared upstream areas of the state’s only official State Scenic River — the areas surrounding the three units …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Our Rich Heritage; Our National Park

Here’s a short follow-up to a story I did a couple of weeks ago about the proposed Davis Refinery, the big industrial plant the California company Meridian Energy wants to build next to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. You’ll recall the North Dakota Department of Health sent Meridian a letter a month ago questioning some of the emissions projections Meridian used …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Meridian Refinery Application Is On The Shelf — Where It Belongs

The North Dakota Department of Health has called “Bullshit!” on Meridian Energy’s application to construct its Davis Oil Refinery three miles from Theodore Roosevelt National Park. In fact, in a strongly worded letter to Meridian, Terry O’Clair, Director of the Division of Air Quality, says he has actually stopped the review of the application until Meridian sends the Department information …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Who’s Looking Out For The Little Missouri State Scenic River — Redux

I’ve given some more thought to the issue of Little Missouri River water permits since I last wrote about it May 3. I reported then that Gov. Doug  Burgum had signed into law an amendment to the Little Missouri State Scenic River Act, making industrial use of Little Missouri water legal for the first time since the act was passed …

RON SCHALOW: Kevin Cramer Must Go

It’s not even a close call, so save the coin toss. Cramer takes North Dakotans for granted and assumes he’s in a safe district. Why, because he’s such a charmer? Guess again, smirk-boy. Smug-boy. Whatever. I’m older than the kid, so I can say that. Plus, I don’t care. I don’t feel any pleasantness oozing from my aura. After decades …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — No Veto, But No More Industrial Permits, Either — At Least For A While; A Partial Victory For The Little Missouri River

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum may not have been in politics very long, but he has learned the No. 1 rule already: Politics is the art of compromise. To that end, the governor DID NOT veto the section of North Dakota House Bill 1020, which now that it is law, legalizes the issuance of industrial water permits from the Little Missouri …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — An Open Letter To Governor Doug Burgum, On The Occasion Of The Greatest Threat Ever To The Little Missouri State Scenic River

Dear Gov. Burgum, Let me quote from the conservation easement you signed for some ranchland you and your friends own in southwest North Dakota’s Bad Lands six years ago: “The Protected Property possesses agricultural, scenic, and historic, and cultural values. The Protected Property is located in the heart of the only Ponderosa pine forest in North Dakota, south of Teddy …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Act Today To Protect The Little Missouri State Scenic River

There are two or three days left in the legislative session. A lot of bad things are going to happen to North Dakota in that short period of time. I’ve been watching every legislative session since 1975, and this one is by far the most irresponsible I’ve seen. One of the worst things that could happen this week is the industrialization …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — State Agency Breaks The Law 600 Times; How Much Jail Time Do You Get For That?

The North Dakota State Water Commission has violated state law more than 600 times in recent years, by issuing permits for industrial use of water (read: fracking oil wells) from the Little Missouri State Scenic River. Employees there claim they didn’t know they weren’t supposed to do that. I believe them. But that’s no excuse. More on that in a …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — The North Dakota Bad Lands: Still On The Brink

In the early 1990s, a group of 17 conservation organizations, as diverse as the National Wildlife Federation, the Bismarck-Mandan Bird Club, the North Dakota Wildlife Society and the Fargo-Moorhead Audubon Society, gathered under a symbolic big tent and produced a document outlining the dangers facing the North Dakota Bad Lands and offering a plan to protect some of North Dakota’s …

RON SCHALOW: Port Fiction

Ruth Buffalo wrote a perfectly sane, accurate and compelling letter-to-the-editor a few days ago, but the truthfulness was more than the Ward County Red Snouted Port could bear. Sad. I have never met Ruth Buffalo, but I know she is very smart because I can read and comprehend. And educated. She is also quite pretty and has a beautiful family. …

MARTIN C. FREDRBlow It Out … Your Gas

Call Your Senators — Oppose Efforts to Repeal the BLM Methane Flaring Rule The splash of light in the center of North America at night, seen from space, shines like the opposite of a black eye. It doesn’t mark a big city or conglomeration of cities like the other light spots across the continent. In fact, it’s coming from where there …

RON SCHALOW: Just Say Nyet To Cro-Magnon Cramer

It did not go unreported that Kevin Cramer might run for Senate in 2018, but the news was largely lost in the fog of the scandalous AMC miniseries, “The Case of the White Pantsuits and Other White Outfits,” based on the true story of a primitive male, with a bad combover, and his faithful miniature poodle, Port, named for the …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Beware The Ides Of March

An apology to my readers. I was born with a weak spine. Literally but not figuratively — I hope. So, I’ve had these recurring back problems since I reached middle age. They’re usually fixable, but it takes some time, and I’m in one of those time periods right now. The doctors started working on it in early February, and they …

RON SCHALOW: Exploding Trains Aren’t Funny

For some reason, many people, including North Dakota legislators, think that trying to get the Bakken oil producers to “stabilize” the crude and THEN put it in the railroad tanker car is a big joke. I didn’t coin the phrase “bomb trains.” That label came from the within the industry because they knew. It’s just good ribbing, though. I’ve been …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Fallacies of the Dakota Access Pipeline ‘Argument’

There is a dreary predictability about the Dakota Access Pipeline controversy, especially in the words that come out of people unsympathetic to the protest. I’m listing those I hear most often: 1. There are lots of non-Indians down there. They have no business here. They discredit (here’s the special kicker in this argument) “what otherwise would have been a perfectly legitimate …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Anatomy Of A Pipeline Oil Spill

Note: This post has been updated from its original version because of some additional information provided to me by the North Dakota Health Department. Thanks to Inspector Bill Suess for that. Out in the Oil Patch, when a pipeline leaks, or a tank overflows, or a valve is accidentally left open, and something (mostly oil and toxic salt water) spills …

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — Pipeline Media

If you’ve been following news coverage about the pipeline, stop it right now. Especially if you’re watching national and international news. What do professional journalists know that Facebook doesn’t? Now that the Army Corps of Engineers has denied permission to cross Lake Oahe, north of Standing Rock, based on foolish environmental concerns and a flawed process, some suggest the protesters …

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Consider All The Alternatives For Building A Safer Pipeline

For the first time in hundreds of years, the Native Americans have what seems to be an astounding victory. I’ve included the exact copy of the letter here from the Army Corps of Engineers, hereinafter referred to as the Corps. The president-elect has not weighed in but supports the pipeline. North Dakota’s governor, U.S. senators and U.S. representative support the …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — The Governor Who Disappeared In August

UPDATE: On Sunday afternoon, not long after I had written this article, the Corps of Engineers announced it would not issue an easement for Energy Transfer Partners to drill on Corps land, effectively putting a stop to completion of the pipeline until a full Environmental Impact Statement is prepared, seeking the best route for the pipeline. The Tribe won this …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Let’s Get Out Before The Weather Gets Bad

What I can read into the Corps of Engineers’ announcement Monday on the Dakota Access Pipeline is that the project will not move forward as long as Barack Obama is Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Army. Well, good for him. Now then, it might be time for Standing Rock Tribal Chairman David Archambault II to send the Water Protectors/Protesters home. Today. And tomorrow. …

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Let Me Collect My Thoughts …

This election cycle has so eroded my thought process — temporarily, I hope — that I can’t focus on any one story line today. So, I’m not even going to try. I’m just going to sit here and write whatever pops into my head. Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney and the State Sheriffs Association would be well advised to remember …

CLAY JENKINSON: A Clash of World Views — Kevin Locke

I had the honor today to hear the world renowned Lakota flute player and hoop dancer Kevin Locke perform in Bismarck. He’s in his 60s now. He has been performing all over the world since he was in his early 20s. He’s a national and international treasure. Someone I know, who knows these things, says Kevin Locke is the greatest …

CLAY JENKINSON: Standing Rock Sioux Crisis — A Plea for Understanding

I know many of you have little respect for the Standing Rock Sioux (Lakota) in the ongoing Dakota Access Pipeline crisis. Your views by now are pretty well known: A) The Sioux leadership should have been at the negotiating table long ago, when it might have made a difference; b) the pipeline is off the reservation, so the Lakota don’t …