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 in 1975. But at the same time he sent word over to the State Water Commission, which issues water permits in our state, not to issue any of those permits in the upstream reaches of the river — between the North Dakota-South Dakota border and the Long-X Bridge at the north Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Quick geography lesson for those not familiar with the Little Missouri: It rises in the hills north of Devils Tower in Wyoming and flows north through Montana and South Dakota, entering North Dakota in the extreme southwest part of the state, and flows north and east into Lake Sakakawea east of Killdeer. Carving the North Dakota Bad Lands, home to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, along the way.

It’s that stretch between the North Unit of the National Park and the big lake that Burgum has left open for industrial development. It’s no coincidence that the focus of oil development along the river is along that stretch.

That’s his concession to the oil industry. In fact, his own Water Commission staff admitted to a reporter for The Dickinson Press the other day that “That’s where most of the oil industry activity has been.” Commission engineer Jon Patch said “They’ve been using local supplies that then pipe the water to nearby wells that are ready to be fracked.”

Using that water illegally, until now, it should be pointed out. There’s still the issue of those 600 permits that were granted by Patch and his staff, illegally, over the past 10 years or so. It appears that nothing is going to be done about that. As far as the state is concerned, that’s water under the bridge, so to speak.

I asked the governor’s spokesman, Mike Nowatzki, if there were going to be any repercussions for the noncompliance with state law by the Water Commission staff. You’ll recall from an earlier story I wrote the staff said they were “unaware” of the law that prohibited them from issuing industrial water permits from the State Scenic River. I pointed out to Nowatzki that, generally, ignorance of the law is no excuse.

Nowatzki wrote back, “As for the “noncompliance” issue, I’m not aware of any related legal actions/proceedings and I’m unable to provide any legal opinions.”

Well, he’s right, but there is someone who can provide legal opinions — the attorney general. So I fired off an e-mail to Liz Brocker, Wayne Stenehjem’s spokesperson: What is going to be done about the “noncompliance” with the law by the State Water Commission staff for the past 10 years?”

Liz answered politely: “With regard to the questions … whether there is a criminal violation of a statute would be under the jurisdiction of the county state’s attorney who would make a determination based on the evidence following an investigation. The Water Commission is a state agency headed by the governor, so any determination on whether further action is necessary or appropriate would properly need to be addressed there.”

Well, I thought her response was pretty nifty, in tossing the ball in two different directions: It’s the governor’s job to determine if he wants to fire someone, and it’s the local state’s attorney who would have to investigate and file any charges for violating the law.

Nowatzki had sort of already indicated that the governor was not interested in punishing the Water Commission staff. I thought about contacting the Burleigh County State’s Attorney and asking him if he was going to pursue this, but we’ve been in the middle of crime wave here since the oil boom began, and he has enough stuff on his plate right now without chasing after some doofus state employee who claims he didn’t know about the law that regulates his job.

I asked a former Water Commission staff member this week whether it was really possible that the engineers didn’t know they were breaking the law. The response was, yes, it’s possible. But it was also possible that they were operating under orders from above to help out the oil industry regardless of the law. Not much happened at the Water Commission during the Dalrymple years without clearance from the governor’s office. One of the most important things the governor could do to enable the oil boom was to make sure they had water for fracking. Without water, there’s no fracking. Without fracking, there’s no oil boom.

So that’s where things stand for now, at least as long as Burgum is governor. He has shown some concern for the Little Missouri State Scenic River but has also accommodated the oil industry. We’ll keep an eye on the process. We’ll see how many industrial water permits get issued. And we’ll certainly ask anyone who decides to run for governor in the future whether they’ll keep Burgum’s restrictions in place.

THE GOOD NEWS

Now, then I want to also revisit a piece of good news about the Little Missouri. Last December, just as the governor was taking office, I took advantage of an old friendship with his new chief of staff (I think he calls her the CEO), Jodi Uecker, and urged her to ask her boss to please revive what I have always considered an important board, the Little Missouri Scenic River Commission. I had written a couple of blog pieces about it earlier last year and placed articles in a couple of other publications I write for, and I shared those with her. You can read them here and here.

Well, Jodi listened. And her boss listened to her. And a couple of weeks ago, he instructed the state engineer, who heads the Water Commission staff, to do just that. It might take a while to get going. It has met only once since 2001 (only coincidentally, the year Ed Schafer, the last North Dakota governor to give a rat’s ass about the Bad Lands and the Little Missouri, left office and turned the governor’s office over to the Hoeven/Dalrymple administration).

The way it works is, as outlined in the Little Missouri Scenic River Act of 1975, Section 61-29 of the North Dakota Century Code, each county commission in the six Bad Lands counties appoints one member, who must be a rancher who owns property adjacent to the Little Missouri River, and those six serve with the state engineer, the State Parks and Recreation director and the director of the State Health Department on the nine-member commission. The six ranchers elect a chairman from among their ranks, and the Parks director serves as the recording secretary for the commission.

Officially, it is the duty of the chairman to call meetings, but unofficially, it has been the Parks director who really gets it done (the current chairman, Alvin Nelson of Grassy Butte, has been dead for several years). I went on a search for meeting minutes about a year ago, and what I learned is that the only meeting held since 2001 was actually called in response to a request from the KLJ Engineering firm, to seek the commission’s blessing for a proposed new river crossing in Billings County. That was August 29, 2007. Nearly 10 years ago.

At that meeting, KLJ, working for the Billings County Commission (Medora is the county seat, in case you’re wondering where Billings County is) said as soon as it had prepared the Environmental Impact Statement for the project, it would get back in touch with the commission to present its findings and seek permission to go ahead with the project.

Here are a couple of excerpts from the meeting minutes:

“The specific purpose of requesting the meeting, KLJ noted, is to seek guidance from the Little Missouri Scenic River Commission, if the river crossing structure alternatives comply with the Little Missouri State Scenic River Act … KLJ concluded their presentation and asked whether any of these types of river crossings (low water crossings or bridges) would be in violation of the Little Missouri River Act.”

“The Commission noted as this project progresses and specific alternatives are recommended for both structure type and location, the commission will need to be presented with detailed information fully addressing the scope and impact of this project to the Little Missouri River. Only then will the commission consider the project for compliance with NDCC 61-29.”

Well, how about that. Now, 10 years later, after numerous delays, KLJ is just weeks, maybe days, away from releasing that EIS. And it is pretty obvious, from those minutes, that both the engineering firm and the state of North Dakota took the responsibility of the commission pretty seriously back in 2007. I hope they still do.

KLJ will be coming looking for the Little Missouri Scenic River Commission to present it to. I hope the state engineer, who has been tasked with reviving it, can get it done in time to weigh in on the project because it has the potential to be the worst environmental disaster ever to hit the Bad Lands.

You see, there was no oil boom — not even a hint of an oil boom to come — back in 2007, so this was a pretty routine request. A new bridge for the ranchers and tourists to use. No one envisioned a miles-long caravan of trucks kicking up thousands of tons of dust a day and scaring off every type of wildlife within eyesight and earshot, while using this crossing of the Little Missouri River to move their water, sand and oil.

So while Gov. Burgum is willing to sell off the northernmost portion of the river, which makes me nervous because it contains Little Missouri State Park, arguably the state’s most fragile and scenic park, which means we’re going to have to keep a close eye on water permit requests for that stretch of the river, he seems committed to offer some protection for the upstream parts of the river.

I hope he kicks the state engineer in the ass and has him get this done right damn now. The oil industry, the Billings County Commission and the bridges they want, wait for no man. The Little Missouri State Scenic River needs all the oversight it can get. That was the intent of the 1975 Legislature. I’ll report back when the EIS is released.

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 of government jobs, by appointment or election, it’s time for Kevin Cramer to be forced to get a job where he can do less damage.

In case you were wondering, Kevin Cramer will vote for the user’s manual of a Hamilton Beach four-slice toaster if the order comes down from the repellent Munster kid — or the Denny’s menu-signing circus peanut. He has no personal integrity. No brain, no strain.

Our congressman voted it’s on the record to cruelly send millions of the people, “on our side,” to their graves, including innocent children, and 7 million veterans. Never underestimate what this @$$hole will do.

Who needs ISIS or the North Korean fat kid? Just cool your jets, fellas. We’ve got the “death to America” stuff covered by the Party of Lincoln. They’ve had some philosophical changes in the past 150 years, which Abe never endorsed — or ever envisioned.

Their antics probably crossed Stephen King’s mind, though. The health care horror story is likely on its way to Barnes and Nobles, as the representatives celebrate with foreign beer and domestic strippers.

We hire the weasels, send them where all of the lobbyists hang, pay them handsomely, give most of them too much respect, and they hurriedly plot our demise. Drive-through suicide, the Trump hatchlings call it. Bodies will be catapulted over the wall.

Donald Trump said “everyone” would be covered. That was a lie. We’ve seen this con before, and it wasn’t on the midway, where the Trump cousins hand out bags of water and a small orange carp. Bait, depending on the locale. It wasn’t a little white lie, either. It was a Trump-sized and textured, pile of horse$#!*. Kevin Cramer doesn’t care.

Not that anyone paying attention should be surprised. Our congressman has always been a tool.

He doesn’t even try to hide it. Did he know that his oil buddies were sending 30,000 gallon soup cans of butane, methane, propane, ethane and other explosive gases, mixed with the fine Bakken crude, down the rail? Sure. Did he care? Nope. Even when 47 Quebecers died, it didn’t faze him.

When it was determined that 60 to 70 would likely die in a Fargo or Bismarck Bakken train explosion, it didn’t faze him. Cramer won’t cross the North Dakota Petroleum Council. The same could be said for the North Dakota GOP. Smaller weasels. Possibly voles.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and Sen. Schumer care, though. And quite a few other politicians throughout the nation, who don’t want their constituents vaporized.

What bothers Cramer, is women wearing white in front of the president. Big Don could have figured that his Klan pals were in the house, or he could have gotten confused about the venue. Trump’s not too sharp — and often gets makeup in his eyes. He might have thrown out the first pitch to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who rarely carries her catcher’s mitt in public but is considered a splendid receiver.

Meanwhile, at the same event, the dignified Congressmen Cramer, seething in the standard male uniform, yelped like an excited Mexican Chihuahua hombre pup, when the Trumpmeister announced the go-ahead for the Dakota Access pipeline.

Kevin is fascinated with, and has an abnormal love for, a carbon-based liquid, that began its development through one of the quirks of nature, that took place a few million years ago — it wasn’t a given that it would exist— but proved to be useful, when humans decided they needed one-day delivery on 16-foot-long $600 ties from the Trump Collection. The great man spit on each one, which makes them collectors items — or evidence.

I considered some Trump Fragrance, but who wants to smell like an obese sweaty golfer — and crocodile breath? I can handle that myself, without taking out a loan. Melania is said to love the odor, which is one of the reasons why she lives so close — 200 miles is about right — to the lumpy beast. I’m not talking about their pet camel, Wally. He smells like waffles.

Cramer is talking like Trump, much more lately, which leads some people to think that he’s losing his grip on the reality thing. Classic Trump.

Crying about some people being mean to him because he can’t answer basic questions at one his “town halls” in the Socialist Republic of Fargo. Then he runs to Rob Port, on WDAY-AM in Fargo, to complain about his constituents and claim that he was set up for something, by the group Indivisible. It’s a lie, but like Trump, it doesn’t matter.

A group wants to drop off some petitions at his office. But they can’t, because the office is supposedly closed, and three regulation-size cops are on hand to keep two small scary women from entering the office building.

Cramer’s story, also shared with his pal Port on WDAY-AM, is that the owner of the building knew a loitering horde had broken through the perimeter weeks ago, plenty of time to have the police on hand. But the congressman had no clue. Plus, he’s so unconnected with the humans in Fargo, he could not find one person to man the office for 30 minutes. Another crock of $#!*, but he’s sticking to it. Crafty women! Always taking advantage of Kevin.

Sean Spicer, the press secretary for the president, thought it was a good idea (it wasn’t) to compare Syrian President al-Assad to Hitler, saying that good old Adolf wasn’t so unhinged, as to use chemical weapons (on the battlefield). Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

Cue Cramer. Stupid? Pshaw. That’s his specialty. Because he’s such a powerful member of the House — and not too bright —  Kevin jumps into the outhouse pit without reservation. Sean was “technically” right, he claims. This Hitler story is being distorted by the media and their fancy digital movie cameras. Well, Spicer had already apologized and likely wanted to hide under his bed until after the impeachment. Cramer just looked like a doofus. Perfect Trump material.

Back before the election, when Kevin did think he was Trump material, and a valued adviser, he prepped the grabby, disabled mocking, bastage for his speech in Bismarck, dreaming of being named Energy secretary. Actually, Cramer was the perfect person to ruin the department and do away with the silly protections for water, air and people. When will the government ever get its boot off the throat of the most profitable industry the world has ever known, and set them free to make real money?

After the speech, experts, real experts, wrote that it was as if Trump didn’t understand the basics of the marketplace. He certainly had no clue about coal. The coal industry is dying due to the free market, and it will never employ as many men it did in the heyday in the Appalachians, when it treated the workers like bad meat and simply buried the ones who died on their feet, in the woods, and then sent another one into the hole. The black lung was free, though.

Now, mechanization has replaced humans, and they blow up a mountain just to claim a small seam of coal, and scrape up the black chunks with huge payloaders. Luckily, thanks to Trump, the companies don’t need to worry about the coal crap that ends up in the streams — and gives the water some flavor. This is Cramer’s man. An idiot.

Kevin has always been a little nutty. He seems to delight in taking things away, like food from kids, then whipping out his holy interpretation of the Bible, which reads differently than my copy — or the one that Trump carries around as a prop.

Cramer has to go. He is not a nice man — or a good man. People that know him well, and relations say this. Now, it’s clear that he could care less about our lives, either jeopardized through the lack of access to health care or the indifference to public safety.

Some will say that Cramer acts kindly to certain individuals, which is great, but his responsibility carries greater weight than the neighbor with the kind heart. Millions are left hanging in the wind if this preposterous health care bill should survive the process, which is apparently what our congressman wants. He friggen voted for it. He lacks empathy, trustworthiness, credibility, and he’s a major suck up. He’s not statesman. He’s a lemming. A sheep. A snowflake. UnAmerican.

You’re Only as Good as the Company You Keep

Cramer’s adoration for Trump should make every self-respecting North Dakotan gag. I could go on forever about Trump’s transgressions that affected the poor, minorities, honest craftsmen, women, ripped off students, blah, blah, bah. Plus, it’s on the record.

Donnie lied 555 times in his first 100 days in a job that requires a qualified adult, a truth teller and not a bullshitter. He has proven that he hasn’t the part of the brain that keeps normal people from lying once per minute — and not caring.

Trump is an admitted sex offender. It wasn’t locker room talk. It was admission of an assault. I’ve been in plenty of locker rooms, and BS like grabbing a woman by the @#&*%$# is the obvious crude braggadocio of a sleazy bloviating jackass and would be treated accordingly. Cleats to the balls, 5-iron to the throat or basketball to the face. Something painful, instead of the whimpering of apologists, like Cramer, who aren’t fond of women in the first place.

Does Kevin approve of a grown man taking a stroll through a dressing room of teenage girls? If he approves of Trump, he does.

How about the cheating on all of his wives?

How about his funny disabled man imitation?

How about his snide remark about a news reporter’s menstrual cycle?

How about Trump’s general lack of morals? Sociopathy?

Flip, flop, flop, cough, gibberish. Which of the policies that Trump has today appeal to our congressman? Not those of yesterday, or this morning, or tomorrow, or the second part of his last sentence, but this moment.

Russia, Russia, Russia.

Hot off the press: “100 Days of Accomplishments Under Trump,” by Kevin Cramer, which puts an end to any speculation to whom our congressman is loyal. If it’s not to the people of this state, what good is he?

Just for Members of the North Dakota Legislature Who Support Trump and Won’t Accept the Facts Behind Their Own Actions, Who also Need to be Retired

One Topic — Oil Taxes

Members of the North Dakota GOP, and their shills, continue to deny that the oil extraction tax was cut in 2015 by the Legislature. They lie. Our state has lost millions of dollars of revenue to out-of-state oil barons. Meanwhile, some of our most vulnerable citizens continue to suffer.

The tax deniers want people to believe that taking to two unrelated issues, mashing them together and calling it reform, obscures the fact that taxes were unnecessarily cut for global oil companies. They can call it reform, form-fitting, secret formula, formaldehyde, formidable, or anything else, but it’s still a tax cut.

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 River, a practice which had been going on illegally for many years If you’re not familiar with that, read this).

But in signing the bill into law Tuesday, he issued what Donald Trump might wave in the air as an “executive order,” declaring that no new permits will be issued for nonagricultural use of water (fracking) until new rules are written governing those permits. Those new rules are likely to address use by counties to draw water to keep the dust down on gravel roads but hopefully will ban water for fracking. That’s probably OK. We’ll see what they say.

Generally, this is an acceptable compromise, I think, with those of us concerned about the industrialization of the Little Missouri River — with one exception — and it might turn out to be a pretty big one. The governor’s order applies to the Little Missouri between the South Dakota border and the Long X Bridge over the river at U.S. Highway 85, on the east end of the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park south of Watford City. That’s about 85 percent of the river’s 275-mile length in North Dakota.

But it doesn’t apply to the section of the river between the Long X Bridge and where it flows into Lake Sakakawea, a distance of about 40 miles, mostly in Dunn County, and that last 15 percent is in an area that has been the hot spot of oil activity in the Little Missouri Bad Lands.

My friends who keep their eyes on oil activity in threatened areas tell me there are a number of large applications in process or pending just east of the Long X Bridge, and there’s a lot of Forest Service and BLM land that could be affected if industrial activity is allowed, including some incredible landscapes and wildlife habitat, as well as multigenerational ranches.

So, we will need to keep a close eye on this process, which the governor is going to make easier for us because he has ordered the Water Commission staff to make “the process and requirements for future issuance of temporary use permits for nonagricultural uses” transparent. Believe me, we’ll be taking advantage of that order. Looking at every permit.

Further, he ordered the Water Commission staff to make public all available data on the temporary use permits issued since 1990 and to do a preliminary report on that within 60 days. By July 1. Maybe we’ll read in that about the rancher along the river who sold the water from his temporary use permit to an oil company for more than $700,000 back in 2012 and 2013.

And as for those 600-plus illegal water permits issued by the Water Commission the last few years, the governor explained it this way:

“Recently, a State Water Commission hydrologist uncovered the 1975 law. A decades-long lapse in awareness and in practice has brought us to today.”

Well, OK. It just seems a little strange that the people who are responsible for issuing all the water permits in the state of North Dakota wouldn’t know the law, but that’s their story. I hope they are telling the truth and not covering up for some superior (prior to Burgum, maybe named John or Jack), who told them to go ahead and issue the permits in violation of the law — oil booms and all the money that accompanies them can cause people to do strange things.

But at the same time, if they are telling the truth, it’s kind of disappointing that they wouldn’t know the law they are charged with upholding and enforcing. The engineers responsible aren’t some rookies right out of college — they’ve been career employees and have risen to the positions of director and assistant director of a division of one of the most important agencies in state government. How could they not know the law? Well, anyway …

The best news of all from the governor this morning is that he has decided to revive the Little Missouri Scenic River Commission, the board created by the State Scenic River Act in 1975 to monitor development along the river. Some of us have been urging the governor to do that since we discovered a couple of years ago that it hasn’t met since 2007. You can read more about that here. If that board had been active the past 10 years, none of those illegal industrial permits would have been issued.

I consider the governor’s order a major victory for the Little Missouri State Scenic River. I’m going to the first meeting. Where hopefully they’ll be talking about the two proposed new bridges across the Little Missouri River. But that’s a story for another day.

So. The hundreds of people who contacted the governor and asked him to veto the law got half a loaf — maybe more. Now we will all know what has been going on, and we will have a chance for input and reaction to what goes on in the future (I just caught myself before I said “going forward” there, a phrase I hate). Constant vigilance will be necessary now. I think we’re up to it.

Gov. Burgum expressed concern for the Little Missouri River. Rightfully so. He owns ranchland on the river.

Gov. Doug Burgum expressed concern for the Little Missouri River. Rightfully so. He owns ranchland on the river.

Here’s the letter I got from the governor this morning, as did the others who contacted him about this:

Thank you for your input on House Bill 1020. I appreciate your concerns and would like to take this opportunity to explain why I have signed the bill into law.

As governor, a North Dakota resident and a property owner on the Little Missouri River, protecting our environment and being responsible stewards of our natural resources is a priority for me personally and for our administration.

The Legislature enacted a chapter of law called the Little Missouri State Scenic River Act (LMSSRA) in 1975 to preserve the Little Missouri River as nearly as possible in a free-flowing natural condition, and to establish the Little Missouri River (LMR) commission.

Records pertaining to LMSSRA indicate that it was enacted primarily because of concerns over several energy projects having interest in dams and diversions for purposes of coal gasification or electricity generation.

The legislation allowed for agricultural water permits but not for industrial uses. However, more than 600 temporary use permits have been issued for non-agricultural uses since 1990.

Recently, a State Water Commission (SWC) hydrologist uncovered the 1975 law. A decades-long lapse in awareness and in practice has brought us to today.

Currently, there are 35 temporary use water permits issued in the Little Missouri River basin. Of these, only two have been issued in the area from the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park (TRNP) to the South Dakota border, and neither of these is on the Little Missouri River proper (http://www.swc.nd.gov/pdfs/littlemo_temp_permits.pdf).

Given the importance of our Little Missouri River to our state, and as a course of action in response to the recent discovery of the SWC’s noncompliance with the 1975 law, I have:

1. Been assured by the State Engineer that no conditionalwater permits have ever been, or will be issued establishing industrial water rights from surface water in the Little Missouri River basin.

2. Asked the State Engineer to immediately suspend the issuance of any new temporary nonagricultural use permits in the Little Missouri River basin upstream from the Highway 85 bridge(known as the Long X Bridge), at the east end of the North Unit of TRNP. This area of new permit suspension stretches from the North Unit of TRNP, south along the river, through Medora, past Marmarth, N.D., all the way to the South Dakota border, and includes the entirety of the Maah Daah Hey Trail and both units of TRNP.

3. Initiated the reinstatement of the Little Missouri River Commission. We have searched archives and the last recorded meeting of this commission was held in Dickinson in 2007. Commission membership, by law, includes the Director of the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department, the State Health Officer, and the Chief Engineer of the State Water Commission, or their designated representatives; and one member from each of the following counties, appointed by their respective county commission: McKenzie, Billings, Slope, Golden Valley, Dunn and Bowman. The county representatives must be resident landowners who live adjacent to the Little Missouri River, with the exception of the Golden Valley County representative. The governor’s office will work with the State Water Commission and the respective county commissions to re-establish an active Little Missouri River Commission.

4. Asked the State Engineer to immediately reviewmodify and make transparent the process and requirements for any future issuance of temporary use permits for non-agricultural uses, and to make public all the available data on the temporary permits that have been issued since 1990. The State Engineer will deliver a preliminary report within 60 days. Also, this report and its findings will be presented to the Little Missouri River Commission and the State Water Commission. No new temporary use permits will be issued upstream of the Long X Bridge until the new system for application and approval is created.

5. Asked the State Engineer to evaluate the future need for additional Little Missouri River stream gauges. Presently, the SWC continuously monitors stream gauge flows in the Little Missouri River at three locations: Marmarth, Medora and the Highway 85 bridge. Many letters expressed concerns about water depletion in the LMR due to the industrial permits. The initial review of the river flows indicates this is a false hypothesis.  In a typical year, there is over 300,000 acre-feet of LMR water flowing past the Long X bridge. The peak year was the big flood year of 2011, when it reached a modern record of 1.1 million acre-feet of flowage. The low year of flowage since electronic recordkeeping began at the SWC in 1990 was 49,000 acre-feet (1992). In 2012, the peak year for industrial use between the TRNP North Unit and the South Dakota border, total reported use was 47 acre-feet, and it accounted for less than one-tenth of 1 percent (0.1%) of the total stream gauge flow.  For comparison, agricultural use that year was 1,024 acre-feet, while the Bully Pulpit golf course at Medora typically draws 155 acre-feet from its conditional use permit.

In addition to the above action steps, I thought you might find the following information useful:

Most temporary use permits are issued for periods of three to six months with a maximum of 12 months. All temporary permits are subject to cancellation by the State Engineer at any time, including for any violations in use, or when necessitated by drought conditions.

Temporary use permits cannot be renewed. A new application is required upon the term ending for the temporary use.

Many of temporary use permits (265 of 600) issued between 1990 and today were to support construction projects, including using water for dust control or as part of road/highway construction.

“Temporary use permits are strictly regulated by the State Engineer. Sample conditions can be found  at http://www.swc.nd.gov/pdfs/temp_permits_sample_conditions.pdf

Temporary use permits provide many benefits, including:

  • Limiting the impact on depletable water sources such as aquifers and artesian springs, a real concern in the area of the Fox Hills aquifer.
  • Avoiding the need to haul water across long distances, thereby reducing truck traffic and dust that impact wildlife, livestock, vegetation and human health. Eliminating temporary use permits would directly and substantially increase truck traffic within the LMR basin.
  • Reducing the risk of human injury from truck-vehicle collisions that may result from increased traffic congestion, as well as reducing the risk to wildlife. Truck vehicle miles traveled in North Dakota increased 88 percent from 2007 to 2015, and traffic crash fatalities increased from 104 in 2008 to 170 in 2012.
  • Reducing costs associated with building and maintaining roads due to increased heavy truck traffic.

If you desire additional technical information, or information on river flow, please contact Garland Erbele, State Engineer for the Office of the State Engineer at (701) 328-4940 or swc@nd.gov.

Our rivers, streams, lakes, aquifers and artesian springs provide a resource that supports our diverse economy, including the tourism/recreation, agriculture and energy sectors.

Thank you for your passion, concern and engagement in the public discourse about our conservation heritage and legacy.

Regards,

Doug Burgum
Governor

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 Roosevelt’s historic Maltese Cross Ranch. This area is rich in history and is deep in the North Dakota Badlands. The scenic Little Missouri River runs directly through the Protected Property and is the only state-designated scenic river in North Dakota. (emphasis added)

“The Little Missouri National Grasslands … offer significant open space and scenic values to local residents and the general public. In addition, the integrity of the Little Missouri River corridor is significant to the entire state, region and nation in the context of its historic and cultural role in the Native American history of the Upper Great Plains …” (emphasis added)

“Preservation of the Protected Property as an undeveloped area will provide significant public benefit via the tremendous scenic qualities and visual access the Protected Property possesses.” (emphasis added)

“These Conservation Values are of great importance to the Grantor, Grantee, and the people of the state of North Dakota. In addition, these values are vitally important to the people of the nation due to the significant relationship to the river corridor and the need to preserve the view along the Little Missouri River in this specific area.” (emphasis added)

That was YOU, Gov. Burgum six years ago, writing about YOUR ranch in the southern Bad Lands. A document filed in the Slope County Court House in Amidon, N.D.

Well, Governor, that was when you were just a ranch owner and only concerned about protecting your little piece of the Little Missouri River. Concerned enough to try to put a perpetual conservation easement on that land so it could never be developed. So that there could never, ever, be anything more than a gravel road leading to the river bottom. So that commercial and industrial development, like water depots and truck refueling stations, would be forbidden on that piece of the Little Missouri River. FOREVER.

Again, from your document:

“The purpose of these Covenants is to preserve and protect in perpetuity the Conservation Values of the Protected Property … in accordance with (Section) 170(h) of the Internal Revenue Code.”

I don’t know if you were successful, since perpetual easements are illegal in North Dakota. I don’t know if you were seeking, or received, federal tax breaks for putting this easement on your property because Section 170(h) of the Internal Revenue Code, which your refer to several more times in your easement document, specifically says, “A contribution shall not be treated as exclusively for conservation purposes unless the conservation purpose is protected in perpetuity.” And easements of this sort in North Dakota are limited to 99 years. Which is certainly not “perpetuity.”

Well, anyway. That was then, when you were responsible and concerned for just your little chunk of the Little Missouri River, and no one doubts that your motives were anything less that sincere about protecting the Little Missouri State Scenic River valley.

But now, Gov. Burgum, you’re governor of the whole state and responsible for protecting the entire Little Missouri River, “the only state-designated scenic river in North Dakota,” as you so ably pointed out in your easement papers.

That State Scenic River designation is part of our state’s laws, in Chapter 61-29 of the North Dakota Century Code, which says:

“Channelization, reservoir construction, or diversion other than for agricultural or recreational purposes and the dredging of waters within the confines of the Little Missouri scenic river and all Little Missouri River tributary streams are expressly prohibited. “ (emphasis added)

The only water that can come out of that river is water to be used for “agricultural or recreational purposes.” Because the North Dakota Legislature said, in writing this law in 1975, that the Little Missouri State Scenic River is too valuable to the state to allow industrialization of the river to take place.

At least, that is what it says today. But now there’s a new law in front of you, Governor, awaiting your signature (or your veto?) passed by the 2017 Legislature, which changes all that. For the past 10 years or so, your State Water Commission, of which you, now, as governor, are the chairman of, has been violating that law and issuing permits for industrial use of Little Missouri State Scenic River water. This year, your staff over there at the Water Commission has decided to come clean and ask that those permits be made legal. Mind you, they didn’t cancel the permits when we found out they were issuing them illegally. They just decided to change the law to make them legal. With the help of oil industry lobbyists and friendly Republican legislators. No doubt those oil industry lobbyists are perched outside your office right now, waiting to encourage you to sign the bill into law and give them, legally, million of gallons of Little Missouri State Scenic River water.

And that’s what the bill in front of you, HB1020 passed this week by the 65th North Dakota Legislative Assembly, does. And those legislators are asking you to sign it into law. So that their friends (and more and more, it’s starting to look like your friends, too) in the oil industry can continue to get that water.

And if you and the Legislature make it legal, the oil industry will probably want way more than they’ve been getting so far, from those 600 illegal water permits they were issued by your Water Commission staff over the past 10 years. They won’t have to worry about any penalties for breaking the law any more.

So are you going to sign it, Gov. Burgum? Are you going to legalize the industrialization of the Little Missouri State Scenic River valley? Or are you going to remember what you wrote six years ago about your little piece of the Little Missouri State Scenic River valley:

“The integrity of the Little Missouri River corridor is significant to the entire state, region and nation in the context of its historic and cultural role in the Native American history of the Upper Great Plains …” and an “undeveloped area will provide significant public benefit via the tremendous scenic qualities …”

Water tanker trucks and dry riverbeds don’t contribute much to the “integrity” or “scenic qualities” of the Little Missouri State Scenic River Valley. Are you going to let that happen? Or are you going to accept your responsibility as governor of the WHOLE state, and the WHOLE Little Missouri State Scenic River, and veto the section of HB1020 that opens up the river valley to industrialization by the oil industry? The Little Missouri State Scenic River is counting on you, Gov. Burgum. You decide.

Gov. Burgum, please read, and contemplate a little bit, this poem from my dear friend, Debra Marquart, written before the bust. Debra is a native North Dakotan who, like you, cares deeply about her state, Gov. Burgum. Read this and maybe you’ll give that veto power just a little more consideration.

LAMENT

By Debra Marquart

(c) 2015

north dakota,   I’m worried about you

the company you keep   all these new friends   north dakota

beyond the boom, beyond the extraction  of precious resources

do you think they care what becomes of you

 

north dakota, you used to be the shy one

enchanted secret land only by a few   north dakota

 

when I traveled away and told people I  belonged to you   north dakota

your name rolled awkwardly from their tongues

a mouth full of rocks, the name of a foreign country

 

north dakota   you were the blushing wallflower

the natural beauty, nearly invisible, always on the periphery

north dakota   the least visited state in the union

 

now everyone knows your name   north dakota

the blogs and all the papers are talking about you   even 60 minutes

 

I’m collecting your clippings   north dakota

the pictures of you from space

the flare ups in your northern corner

like an exploding super nova

a massive city where no city exists

a giant red blight upon the land

 

and those puncture wounds   north dakota   take care of yourself

the injection sites   i see them on the maps

eleven thousand active wells    one every two miles

 

all your indicators are up   north dakota

four hundred billion barrels, some estimates say

more oil than we have water to extract

more oil than we have air to burn

 

north dakota   you could run the table right now   you could write your own ticket

so, how can I tell you this?   north dakota, your politicians

 

are co-opted (or cowards or bought-out or honest and thwarted)

they’re lowering the tax rate for oil companies

they’re greasing the wheels that need no greasing

they’re practically giving the water away

they’ve opened you up and said, take everything

 

north dakota   dear sleeping beauty   please, wake up

 

what will become of your sacred places,

what will become of the prairie dog

the wolf, the wild horses, the eagle

the meadowlark, the fox, the elk

the pronghorn antelope, the rare mountain lion

the roads, the air, the topsoil

your people, your people,

what will become of the water?

 

north dakota   who will ever be able to live with you

once this is all over   I’m speaking to you now

as one wildcat girl   to another   be careful    north Dakota

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 of the Little Missouri State Scenic River. I wrote about this last week. I won’t go back into it here. Instead, I’m asking you to help stop something bad from happening.

Below is an email I sent to Gov. Doug  Burgum this morning. In it, I am asking him to instruct his state engineer to withdraw the amendment to the Little Missouri Scenic River Act that he has requested in House bill 1020. You can read it here. It is on page 8, about halfway down the page. The words “temporary use,” which they are adding to the Act, are code words for Industrial Water Permits. The Water Commission’s own engineers told me that last week.

Please consider emailing Gov. Burgum by going to this link on his web page and ask him to have his state engineer withdraw his request for changes to the Little Missouri State Scenic River Act in HB1020. Please do it today. Tomorrow is probably too late. Thank you for your help.

Here’s the email I sent this morning.

Dear Gov. Burgum,

In 1975, the Legislature acted to protect the Little Missouri State Scenic River (its full and appropriate title) from industrial development by passing the Little Missouri State Scenic River Act, now Section 61-29 of the North Dakota Century Code.  Many of my friends and I were involved in that effort to protect the Little Missouri River, as the state faced a request from Tenneco to build a coal gasification plant in western North Dakota, using water from a dam on a tributary of the Little Missouri. The act specifically said “No water for industrial use from the Little Missouri or its tributaries.” That law has withstood the test of time, except that the State Water Commission has been violating it for years by giving out illegal industrial use water permits from the Little Missouri, by their own accounting more than 600 of them, to the oil and gas industry. Now the Water Commission has asked that an amendment to 61-29 be approved to allow them to legally give out industrial water permits. They have done so in an amendment to House Bill 1020, a Water Commission appropriations bill. I am writing to ask you to instruct the State Engineer to ask the Legislature to remove that amendment from HB 1020 today. You and I both know that the Little Missouri is too valuable to be used as an industrial water source. That’s why it has been named the state’s only State Scenic River, and is the only river protected from development by state law. Please act today to preserve that law, and our precious Little Missouri State Scenic River.

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 minute. First, a little history lesson.

Let’s travel back in time 42 years. The 1975 North Dakota Legislature passed a bill that started with the words “This chapter may be cited as the Little Missouri State Scenic River Act.” And that’s how we came to have the Little Missouri State Scenic River, North Dakota’s only designated State Scenic River.

Bills become laws. Here are two chapters of this bill as it was written into the North Dakota Century Code after it was approved by a large bipartisan majority and was signed by Gov. Art Link. The law remains there, untouched, 42 years later. Until now.

“The purpose of this chapter shall be to preserve the Little Missouri River as nearly as possible in its present state, which shall mean that the river will be maintained in a free-flowing natural condition, and to establish a Little Missouri River commission.” — North Dakota Century Code 61-29-02

“Management. Channelization, reservoir construction, or diversion other than for agricultural or recreational purposes and the dredging of waters within the confines of the Little Missouri scenic river and all Little Missouri River tributary streams are expressly prohibited.” — North Dakota Century Code 61-29-06

That’s still the law, 42 years later. You can’t build dams on the Little Missouri River or any of its tributaries. Neither can you take any water from the river or its tributaries for any use other than irrigation or recreation.

Back in 1975, we decided the Little Missouri was special, and we decided to protect it from industrial use. And, you know, we observed that law for more than 30 years. Until someone invented fracking. Fracking takes millions of gallons of water to make an oil well operate in the Bakken. Some estimates run as high as ten million gallons per well.

And so, oil companies began looking for some serious water supplies. And they saw that pretty little river running through the Bad Lands and thought that might be a good place to get some. So they went to the Water Appropriations Division of the State Water Commission and asked, “Hey, could we have some of that water?” And the engineers at the Water Commission office said, “Sure.”

They said “sure” more than 600 times. And each time, they claim they did not know they were breaking the law. Chapter 61-29 of the North Dakota Century Code. Which specifically says they couldn’t do that.

And so those big old trucks backed up to the Little Missouri State Scenic River and sucked the water out to fill their tanks, and took it over to a well site and  mixed it with some sand and chemicals and pumped it down a well hole to break up the shale holding the black gold below.

The engineers at the Water Commission told me this week they weren’t worried about running the river dry because the Little Missouri has plenty of water. Uh, huh. Tell that to canoeists (like me) who know they only have a three- to four-week window each year when there’s enough water to float a canoe. Or to the hikers and bicyclists who regularly ride or hike across the river on the Maah Daah Hey trail without getting their knickers wet.

I had an old Bad Lands rancher tell me not so many years ago that nine years out of 10 you could canoe the Little Missouri River on Memorial Day weekend. Now it’s more like two or three out of ten. Just sayin’ …

Well, all this came to light last week when I was looking at the appropriations bill in the Legislature for the State Water Commission. Tucked away in that bill, down at the bottom of page 8 of a 13-page bill, is this:

“SECTION 16. AMENDMENT. Section 61-29-06 of the North Dakota Century Code is amended and re-enacted as follows: 61-29-06. Management. Channelization, reservoir construction, or diversion other than for agricultural or, recreational, or temporary use purposes and the dredging of waters within the confines of the Little Missouri scenic river and all Little Missouri River tributary streams are expressly prohibited. Flood control dikes may be constructed within the flood plain of the Little Missouri River. Diking and riprapping for bank erosion control shall be permitted within the confines of the Little Missouri scenic river. The construction of impoundments for any purpose on the Little Missouri mainstream shall be prohibited. This chapter shall in no way affect or diminish the rights of owners of the land bordering the river to use the waters for domestic purposes, including livestock watering, or any other rights of riparian landowners.”

Notice those three underlined words, “or temporary use.” That caught my eye. What’s the definition of “temporary” and what the heck is going on here? They are amending the State Scenic River Act. To allow something that hasn’t been allowed before, or it wouldn’t take an amendment to the law. What’s up?

Since the language was in the Water Commission’s appropriations bill, I sent an e-mail to a couple of members of the Legislature’s Appropriations Committees and to my state senator, Erin Oban. I got almost instant replies, telling me who to contact at the Water Commission to get the story on this.

Which I did. I had a 40-minute phone conversation this morning. And here’s what I learned.

A couple of weeks ago, a young staff person in the Water Appropriations Division of the Water Commission came running up to the boss’s office with a copy of a blog post I wrote last year about the Little Missouri Scenic River Commission, in which I cited the language from Chapter 61-29 (above).

“Holy Cow! We’ve broken the law! 600 times!”

What the commission had done, of course, was fairly logical. If an oil company needed water, and the Little Missouri was close by, it issued permits for “diversion” of some of that water. Made sense to the Water Commission staff. If the oil company could get water close by, the oil company could save money, there would be fewer trucks hauling water from somewhere else, less dust in the air from those trucks  — what’s not to like about that?

Except the water was coming from the LITTLE MISSOURI STATE SCENIC RIVER. AND THAT’S AGAINST THE LAW.

But nobody at the Water Commission knew about the law. In spite of the fact that the law established a Little Missouri State Scenic River Commission, and the state engineer, who runs the Water Commission staff, is a member of that commission. I wrote a couple stories about that last year, under the headlines “Who’s Looking Out For The Little Missouri?” and “Turns Out Nobody’s Looking Out For The Little Missouri.”

I suppose because the Scenic River Commission has been inactive for many years (also in violation of the law) and because there’s no institutional memory on the Water Commission staff, we could forgive the current staff for not knowing about it. But as I pointed out to the staff people I talked to, ignorance of the law is no excuse. That’s something we’ve all had preached to us all our lives.

“Honest, officer, I didn’t know the speed limit was 45 here.”

“Sorry, dude, here’s your ticket. Ignorance of the law is no excuse.”

Well, anyway, the staff decided it needed to do something about that. It could have sent a letter to everyone with a current permit and told them their permit was revoked. And then obeyed the law for the rest of it life.

Or it could try to change the law, so it could issue more permits, legally.

Which is what it did. It went running over to friendly Republican faces on the Senate Appropriations Committee and had them put an amendment on the Water Commission appropriations bill making those permits legal. And it almost slipped it through. A friend of mine happened to be in the Senate chamber one day last week when the chief clerk was reading the title of the bill on the Senate Floor and heard the words “Little Missouri Scenic River Commission” and mentioned it to me that night.

I did a little digging and now we all know the rest of the story. So far.

The bill has not passed yet. It is stuck in conference committee. The conference committee members are Reps. Jim Schmidt, Roscoe Streyle and Tracy Boe and Sens. Gary Lee, Ronald Sorvaag and Larry Robinson. If you know any of them, send them this blog, and call them and ask them to take the amendment to Chapter 61-29 out of the bill, to save what’s left of the Little Missouri River. Because if the bill passes, and the boom comes back, there are going to be 600 more water permits issued.

And send it to Gov. Doug Burgum as well. Because this is an appropriations bill, I’m pretty sure he has line-item veto authority under legislative rules and state law. Tell him to strike that chapter from the bill before he signs the Water Commission budget bill, HB 1020.

Seriously, do those things. Somebody has to look out for the Little Missouri, and if government won’t do it, we have to do it ourselves.

Thank you. Amen.

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 most important scenic areas and wildlife habitat.

The document produced by hunters, anglers, birders, hikers, photographers, canoeists, scientists, teachers and state and federal wildlife officials was titled “Bad Lands on the Brink: A North Dakota Wilderness and Wild and Scenic River Proposal.”

That 1993 document started with these words:

“In 1964, Congress passed the Wilderness Act ‘to secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring source of wilderness.’ Almost 30 years after passage of the act, the promise is yet to be fulfilled. North Dakota is one of only three states that has not passed a comprehensive statewide U.S. Forest Service wilderness bill.”

South Dakota, with its Black Elk Wilderness Area, designated in 1980 in the Black Hills National Forest, was not one of those three states. It were way ahead of North Dakota.

The document continued:

“The amount of wilderness in North Dakota that qualifies for protection is rapidly diminishing. Five hundred thousand acres of the Little Missouri National Grassland situated in the western North Dakota Bad Lands qualified for wilderness designation in the early 1970s. By 1977, when the second Roadless Area Review and Evaluation (RARE 2) was complete (Note: And when our first oil boom was really getting going), the number of acres eligible for wilderness protection was cut in half. Today (in 1993), only slightly more than 150,000 acres of potential wilderness remains. The major reason for the loss of wild lands has been the development of oil and other resources.

One of our roadless areas in the North Dakota Bad Lands.
One of our roadless areas in the North Dakota Bad Lands.

“We, the organizations sponsoring the North Dakota Wilderness Proposal, recognize that oil and gas development contributes greatly to the economic well-being of western North Dakota and is a vital natural resource. But we steadfastly believe that this use must be balanced with other, equally valuable, uses of our public lands.”

And with that introduction, the groups made their case for wilderness in a well-documented 24-page booklet.

Opposition to the conservation groups’ proposal sprang up immediately, spearheaded by the oil industry, which wanted to drill on every available acre of public land, as well as some ranching organizations worried about their grazing rights — even though grazing continues in wilderness areas — and the state’s Chamber of Commerce. The proposal languished and died a slow death. And development, mostly oil and gas, moved steadily forward into many of the areas designated as “eligible” for wilderness but still unprotected in “Bad Lands on the Brink.”

By 2002, just nine years later, when the Forest Service finally wrote a new management plan for its million-acre holdings in western North Dakota, the number of acres remaining as “suitable for wilderness” had shrunk from 150,000 to 40,000. The oil industry did its job. If the Forest Service had not written its new plan in 2002, the oil boys might have gotten to all 150,000.

No longer roadless — an oilfield road in the North Dakota Bad Lands.
No longer roadless — an oilfield road in the North Dakota Bad Lands.

Those 40,000 acres remain today, in 2017, in spite of the Bakken Boom, only because now, 15 years later, the Forest Service has not rewritten that 2002 plan. The Forest Service manages a million acres of National Grasslands in North Dakota, and more than 95 percent of it is open to oil and gas development. Less than 5 percent remains “suitable for wilderness.”

And there is still no clear path to official Wilderness designation, with a capital W, for that small part of that vast grassland owned by the people of the United States.

You’re probably asking yourself why this is important. Well, the land we’re talking about is critical habitat for wildlife species such as mule deer, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep and sage and sharptail grouse. It contains some of North Dakota’s most scenic landscapes. When I was a young man, there were nearly half a million acres of western North Dakota free from roads, oil wells, natural gas flares, pipelines and waste disposal and oil storage tank batteries. Because they were free from development, wildlife thrived there. And for me, and thousands of my fellow North Dakotans, this was an outdoor recreation paradise. Now, less than 10 percent of that half million acres remains free from development.

There is another proposal now, though, in the form of the Prairie Legacy Wilderness  concept offered by the Badlands Conservation Alliance (BCA), a North Dakota-based conservation and wildlife organization with many members who were part of the original 1993 group. BCA is the voice of the North Dakota wilderness coalition, and it seeks designation of those last 40,000 acres — small islands in the vast sea of the North Dakota grasslands — as official Wilderness.

I wish everyone could read “Bad Lands on the Brink” because it really lays out the case for conservation of our wild places, but it’s mostly not possible because not many copies exist anymore. My wife, Lillian, and I each saved a copy from our younger days, and we dug them out of old files this winter. The North Dakota State Library and the State Historical Society of North Dakota each have a copy. And I suspect there are a number floating around in the basements or bookshelves of conservation junkies in the Dakotas like Lillian and me. But you can’t buy it or find it in your local library, to my knowledge.

So let me just share a little bit of their writing with you. Remember, this was 1993, and they were still talking about 150,000 acres of undeveloped land.

“These federal lands contain some of the most important wildlife habitat, wilderness and recreational areas found in North Dakota. For instance, the grassland serves as a potential reintroduction site for the endangered black-footed ferret — the rarest mammal in North America. Seven geographically distinct habitats are home to approximately 250 bighorn sheep.

“The area’s topography ranges from deeply incised, dramatically hued canyons to verdant ridges and 200-year-old ponderosa pines. It is this diversity of landscape that offers something for every outdoor enthusiast: scenery for the photographer, challenging terrain for the hiker and much-sought-after remote opportunities for campers and hunters.

“Yet the enchanting aura of the proposed wilderness is hardly news. Theodore Roosevelt developed much of his conservation ethic during his stay in what is now known as the Little Missouri National Grassland, an ideal that later influenced much of the environmental character of his presidency. Roosevelt, in reflecting on his visit to the area, said: ‘In that land, we led a free and hardy life … we knew toil and hardship and hunger and thirst … but we felt the beat of hardy life in our veins, and ours was the glory of work and the joy of living.’

“Without wilderness designation for these grasslands, future generations may be robbed of their right to experience life out on the great open spaces, under the magnificent skies of the West. These opportunities are dwindling with each passing year as the pressures for development increase. The American people, through their representatives in Congress, need to set aside wilderness areas within these Western grasslands — before it is too late.”

Well, those words in 1993 were absolutely on target. Today, just four of those tiny islands in the Badlands, and another small spot in the Sheyenne National Grasslands in eastern North Dakota, totaling only 40,000 acres, remain roadless and suitable for Wilderness designation.

Hunters, concerned about the loss of habitat, were active members of both the 1993 coalition and today’s conservation efforts. In the 1993 document, they wrote, “It is important to note that while hunting is the most popular recreational activity in most of the proposed wilderness areas — and will continue under wilderness designation — hunters will have to meet new requirements. Motor vehicles will no longer be allowed in wilderness areas. Instead, hunters will be given the opportunity to hunt on foot or on horseback. This is a common mode of hunting in other Western states, but few nonmotorized hunting opportunities exist in North Dakota.  This proposal presents a unique chance for diversified hunting experiences in the state.”

Meaning, fewer vehicles, or no vehicles, equals more wildlife. It’s the reason elk herds thrive in our national parks, for example. I have friends who are avid mule deer hunters — or were until the Bakken Boom — who hunted exclusively in these roadless areas, both for the love of the unique outdoor experience these areas provided and the likelihood of filling a tag.

So, efforts by Prairie Legacy Wilderness supporters to designate this last 40,000 acres as Wilderness continue. But we’ve not had a member of our state’s congressional delegation willing to stand up and introduce the federal legislation necessary, despite the fact that the bill is written and ready to drop into the hopper. If you’d like to help, check out the website www.badlandsconervationalliance.org. You’ll find the proposal there, with detailed maps of the proposed wilderness areas and information on how you can become part of the process.

The Bad Lands, meanwhile remain “on the brink.” We should all remember the words of another U. S. president, Lyndon Johnson, who said while signing the Wilderness Act of 1964, “If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them something more than the miracles of our technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.”

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. And I’m betting that her hair smells like lilacs.

Forum Communications Rob Port, the antidote to proper newspapering, is a liar and probably a poor bowler. I think my microwave told me that while the corned beef hash was spinning in the window like an AC/DC LP. Look it up.

Port calls the people who studied journalism, other college knowledge stuff and grasp the difference between a noun and a duckbill platypus his colleagues. I worked at Microsoft for a spell. Bill Gates wasn’t my colleague. Doug Burgum wasn’t my colleague. Most in the adjoining cells just called me, “Would you please just shut up. I’m begging you.”

I still don’t know how to do a pivot table with Excel, if that’s still a thing, but I know that loud cursing is part of the process. I took my leave before the storm troopers — or they could have just been guys with an ungodly number of keys — would bring the plastic personal belonging tub and follow along on the perp walk to the door, lest a paunchy 50-year-old — that’s the sell by date — load up on medium tip Sharpies and make a fortune on the black marker market.

I’ll get back to the liar, but that’s how Microsoft and Great Plains Software handled North Dakota people, some who put in 20, 25 years, building the business — real professionals— just to make the books look better to a buyer or to hire punks, like business casual khaki covered Ports who would work for the half the price. Not respectful. Not the family we were told. The governor knows all about this. Port thinks he likes him. To play the brat. Yes.

But I digress, as the Portweasel says regularly. Because you can’t go wrong with a cliche or the word of the day. Just use flip calendar for the date, or burn it, for crissakes. That’s it.

Nobody is allowed to talk negatively about Port’s oil friends, who use him like a player piano. That includes special pal, Congressman Kevin Cramer. Kev may as well make it official and sign on with the North Dakota Petroleum Council. It no doubt pays better.

Here’s Port’s beef with Ruth Buffalo and how his sorrowful brain decides to neutralize the truth. His headline, which may — or may not — have been promoted by the shameless InForum, the Grand Forks Herald and the Dickinson Press on their webpages.

“Democrat Who Got 26 Percent of the Vote Now Telling Us What North Dakotans Want on Flaring Rule”

Pieces are true, but put the words together, and you have another flaming pile of falsehood. Fake news. Port’s stock-in-trade. Who reads past a Port headline? BillyBob666 and a few others in the alt-right fecal fouled nest, I guess.

Then he writes, Blah, blah, blah, “letters to the editor are usually an exercise in Astroturf, on both sides of the issue, which means they usually aren’t worth commenting on.”

“But I had to say something about this letter from Ruth Buffalo who ran for Insurance commissioner on the Democratic ticket last year,” Port babbled on.

He just had to, but normally he would be too busy fretting about nature. But for this, he would break his rigid protocol and do the dance — for the children.

If Port were truthful, and he isn’t, he would admit that he slurs every person who has had the good sense, and a functional keyboard, to call him out on his unique type of logic slurry, or talks trash about about any of the industries and politicians Robbie shills for.

Compared to Port, Donald Trump has the thick exterior of a dressage dancing Aldabra giant tortoise. #Snowflake

Port continues to type nonsense. There has to be a software program to help someone like the witless wonder. Or the ability to use the Google.

Ruth: “North Dakotans support cutting natural gas waste,” reads the headline over Buffalo’s letter.

Ruth: “I was disheartened to hear that my elected representative, Rep. Kevin Cramer, is so determined to repeal the common-sense protections that will help North Dakotans and members of the Three Affiliated Tribes from natural gas waste,” she writes.

Port: “There are a couple of points worth making here.”

Port: “First, Ruth Buffalo received just 26 percent of the vote last year. Her opponent, Republican Jon Godfread, received 64 percent. Yet Buffalo is now an expert on what North Dakotans want.”

First of all, nobody, not anyone, needs more than zero percent in any election to voice their opinion. You don’t even need to run in an election, or in a marathon, or run the water, to shoot your mouth off in this country.

Ask Port. He might be able to run 10 feet, but no one knows. He’s rarely seen in the wild. An armadillo could outrun the most influential political blogger in state, as Port claims, if you startled the armored little beast. I heard that from one of Obama’s hacker and wiretapping pals, I think.

Also, Buffalo never claimed to be an expert, although maybe she is. Port just made that up. He’s been making crap up about people for years, doing little smear jobs, but the weasel really likes to set his sights on strong women, and Natives.

Oh well, let lumpy keep talking.

“C’mon. North Dakotans have made it pretty clear in one election after another that they aren’t buying what liberal Democrats like Buffalo are selling. Which isn’t to say she can’t keep trying to sell us her bill of goods. Just that she maybe shouldn’t say she’s talking for some majority of citizens in the state,” drools Port. It’s not pretty. Is that gravy?

We’ve already sorted out this election thing — it’s not relevant — and Democrats, liberal or otherwise, weren’t in Buffalo’s letter. She never claimed to speak for the Democratic Party, and she never said she was speaking for the majority of North Dakotans. The polling does, though.

Port came up with that bull$#!* in his “Gibberish for Idiots” book. This is where college might have helped the lad, but he couldn’t hack it. Not my fault. Sad.

Ruth Buffalo didn’t personally claim anything. Her statement: “A full 76 percent of North Dakotans support cutting natural gas waste on federal and tribal lands, including Republicans, Independents and Democrats,” originated from a poll taken by the Republican Public Opinion Strategies.

She told the absolute truth. I figured that out in about five minutes, but I’m just a dumb old lib$%#@ with a bad attitude and an Internet connection.

So, Port tells a lie by omitting pertinent information, all in order to slur Ruth Buffalo. Childlike. Shameless. Dishonest.

Port tightens the knot around his neck. “Second, Buffalo invokes the interests of the Three Affiliated Tribes, of which she is a member. Problem is, the tribe’s leadership supports overturning this rule.”

No she did not.

Unless Port is inferring that as a Native, Buffalo has to agree with every other Native American, or that she is required to agree with the leaders of her Tribe. She doesn’t and isn’t. And more than the hamhock from Minot is required to agree with the leaders of us white people.

“Buffalo presumes to speak for North Dakotans, and for the MHA Nation, when she really has no standing to speak for either.”

No, she did not.

Ruth said, “North Dakota’s energy resources are important for us to be able to provide for our people, but right now because of outdated and ineffective guidelines, too much of our natural gas is wasted. This waste means less tax revenue for tribes, affecting our bottom line.”

Is Port in favor of waste? Less tax revenue? He doesn’t care. He’s a poor excuse of a mouthpiece for big oil, being a liar and all. Maybe somebody else is up for the challenge? I’m sure another @$$hole could cover a few shifts. Maybe Trump has some time on his tiny hands between rounds of golf and Twittering insults.

“When methane, the primary component of natural gas, is released, so are toxics such as benzene, threatening the health of those living closest to oil and gas well sites. And for people that are struggling to make ends meet, the last thing we should have to worry about is the air we breathe,” continues Buffalo.

That is a true statement. I like a good sniff of benzene in the morning, but it’s not for everyone. Straight methane? I’m in heaven. Perhaps. It’s a tough call.

Buffalo: “I was disheartened to hear that my elected representative, Rep. Kevin Cramer, is so determined to repeal the common-sense protections that will help North Dakotans and members of the Three Affiliated Tribes from natural gas waste.”

I’m disheartened by most things that come out of Cramer’s mouth. Nauseous, really. Has anyone sucked up to a lunatic like 45, so openly since a moron said, “Sure, I’ll be Tyler, too. What’s a Tippecanoe?” He was no friend of the Natives, either, and also had a fear of white garments.

“The oil and gas industry is determined to override the will of the American people. A full 76 percent of North Dakotans support cutting natural gas waste on federal and tribal lands, including Republicans, Independents and Democrats.”

This is true. Backed up by a Republican polling firm, as I noted. Why does Port forget to report, or whatever you call what he does, these statistics. His “colleagues” would have. That’s what he might have heard on the talking painting in the bedroom.

Buffalo again. “We (speaking for the 76 percent) hope that Sens. Heidi Heitkamp and John Hoeven do not make the same mistake. We urge them to help the people of North Dakota get a fair share of their resources and not put the health of our state ahead of the oil and gas lobby.”

Good luck with that, but we can hope. The Legislature will probably give Harold Hamm the $12 we have left.

“The industry wants to be able to do whatever they want, whenever they want, even if it hurts us. We need oil and gas development to be done responsibly,” writes Buffalo.

It’s true. The oil industry has run roughshod over this state, and the sycophants, including Port, just wave at them. He once wrote that it shouldn’t matter where the exploding trains came from. Doofus. Like we don’t want to know where the rancid meat originated so we can fix the problem. Actually, no Republican in a North Dakota office wanted to fix the problem.

Port rationalized the enormous number of worker deaths in the Bakken. He rationalized every type of spill. Put him in a cheerleader outfit, already. Ugh.

Of course, our congressman, with a straight face, said that it was discrimination to call Bakken crude, Bakken crude. He was worried that people might find out who had the most explosive gases in their tankers of crude. He didn’t say what we should call it, though. Short attention span.

Port and Cramer. Cut from the same white cloth.

Buffalo wraps up her letter. “Our senators should stand up for North Dakotans to ensure that we see the return on our resources and improved quality of life.”

Shouldn’t they? I thought that was the idea of this whole Republic thing, but then you have those screaming howler monkeys who will lie to advance the wishes of the most profitable industry the world has ever seen.

Port is a liar.

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 are few cities at all.

The bright spot is the oil patch in and around the Badlands in western North Dakota. It’s flaring of natural gas from oil rigs.

It’s also cash disappearing, literally, into thin air. It’s the potential for thousands of jobs going up in smoke. It’s a resource that could help our nation be less dependent on foreign energy sources. It’s the atmosphere being polluted by dangerous methane and other toxins from an industry that comes in, tramples over a state’s public lands and ultimately leaves with millions and millions more in its stained pockets. Some of those millions make their way into the re-election coffers of members of Congress.

These are members of Congress who — surprise, surprise — want to repeal the Bureau of Land Management Methane and Natural Gas Waste Reduction Rule that curbs flaring and venting on public lands.

Methane and Natural Gas Waste Reduction Rule

Flaring refers to burning off natural gas that is a byproduct of fracking, and venting refers to releasing natural gas into the atmosphere.

The BLM finalized the rule near the end of President Obama’s term. According to the BLM, it’s intended to, “… help curb waste of our nation’s natural gas supplies; reduce harmful air pollution, including greenhouse gases; and provide a fair return on public resources for federal taxpayers, Tribes and States.”

Sounds reasonable.

But the oil and gas industry doesn’t think so. It argues that forcing oil extractors to update equipment and technologies to capture and distribute the natural gas will be too costly and ultimately will make them less likely to keep extracting oil.

Balderdash. Ballyhoo. Bullpucky.

If there’s oil to be got, those companies will be here to get it. They just don’t want to spend the money. Instead, they’d rather keep sending ours up in flames, along with public health and the health of the planet.

And members of Congress — mostly Republican, but a few Democrats, too – want to help them by repealing the Methane Flaring and Natural Gas Waste Reduction Rule.

Money

Speaking of money …

Natural gas is a valuable fuel source. According to the Environmental Defense Fund:

An in-depth analysis by ICF International estimates that fugitive and vented losses from oil and natural gas operations on federal and tribal lands amounted to over 65 billion cubic feet in 2013. This gas would be worth nearly $330 million at current prices.

That’s $330 million of a TAXPAYER-OWNED resource that will go back to being burned off and released into the atmosphere by private, for-profit businesses. Taxpayers get ZERO return.

And according to the Environmental Defense Fund, “Nationwide the U.S. loses about $2 billion worth of natural gas every year through methane leaks and intentional releases (like venting) throughout the oil and gas system.”

Jobs

The methane mitigation industry has been putting people to work in high-paying jobs, according to a study commissioned by the EDF and conducted by Datu Research, an international firm created by Duke University analysts.

A story about the research at naturalgasintel.com says:

… many of the methane mitigation companies have developed effective technologies and services to capture unburned natural gas. The services “create new, well-paying American jobs for skilled workers, save industry over $1 billion in lost product and reduce air pollution.”

“These are highly skilled jobs with good pay,” Datu President Marcy Lowe said, “and they are not likely to be outsourced.”

Sounds like the kind of jobs we want in this country.

Health

Natural gas flaring and venting puts toxic chemicals into the air that we and our children and grandchildren breathe.

Multiple sources discuss the negative health impacts of carcinogens, metals like arsenic, sour gases, nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide and methane released through flaring and venting of natural gas. Autoimmune problems, asthma and other respiratory illnesses, cancer and premature death are few often mentioned.

Arsenic. Carcinogens. Cancer. Premature death. These are ugly words, especially in the context of preventable activities.

Climate costs

Then there’s methane.

Methane is a big part of natural gas. When it’s released into the atmosphere, it’s a greenhouse gas that accelerates global warming.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, cited in a piece in Scientific American, said methane warms Earth 86 times more than CO2. The negatives of CO2 in relation to atmospheric degradation are well documented.

So Congress says …

Congress wants to repeal the Methane Flaring and Natural Gas Waste Reduction Rule, anyway. Right now, it’s easier than usual to do so because of what’s called the Congressional Review Act. This act allows Congress to repeal or overturn rules issued by federal agencies within a certain time period. An FAQ about the Congressional Review Act states:

Because of the structure of the periods during which Congress can take action under the CRA, there may be a period at the beginning of each new administration during which rules issued near the end of the previous administration would be eligible for consideration under the CRA.

In layman’s terms, this means this Congress can repeal or overturn rules released near the end of President Obama’s term. And they’re doing it like crazy.

The worst part of the CRA? A rule repealed under this law cannot be implemented again in “substantially the same form.” Ever. Over and out.

One Democrat who apparently is still “wavering” on how she’ll vote regarding the repeal of this rule is Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., who is from my home state.

Badlands, bad mojo

I grew up in the Badlands of North Dakota.

I’ll never forget the gazillion stars and planets, satellites sailing along under the Milky Way, trailing across the dark night sky. I’d lie on my back in the campground across the Little Missouri River from the Burning Hills Amphitheater, watching in anticipation for the nightly fireworks that blasted over the crowd at the end of every Medora Musical performance.

Those stars are harder to see these days, thanks to the air and light pollution from the flaring of natural gas on public lands in North Dakota and elsewhere. If Congress repeals this rule, it’ll be harder yet, and the negative impacts will be felt well beyond the borders of my state.

Call your senators

Wherever you are, call your senators (here’s a list). In North Dakota: Sen. Heitkamp, (202) 224-2043, and Sen. John Hoeven, (202) 224-2551.Tell them to vote against air pollution, dangerous hydrocarbons, lost jobs and wasted funds. Tell them to vote against repeal of the BLM Methane and Natural Gas Waste Reduction Rule.

In short, tell them to blow it out. The gas.

Links:

https://www.blm.gov/style/medialib/blm/wo/Communications_Directorate/public_affairs/news_release_attachments.Par.74451.File.dat/VF_Fact_Sheet.pdf
https://www.edf.org/energy/substantial-loss-natural-gas-public-lands

https://www.icf.com

https://www.edf.org/sites/default/files/us_methane_mitigation_industry_report.pdf

http://www.daturesearch.com

http://www.naturalgasintel.com/articles/99911-methane-mitigation-businesses-boosting-us-jobs-prospects

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-bad-of-a-greenhouse-gas-is-methane/

https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R43992.pdf

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 fortified wine the holy man uses to give himself Communion.

His other pup, Hennen, is at the vet. The Pomeranian pounded too much port.

Besides being livid at what Port would call a violent riot of white-clothed feminazis — he’s one of those women hating talking dogs — the perpetually befuddled man, not in the yellow hat, was appallingly mortified that the female lawmakers fled the chamber so quickly after the president addressed a joint session of Congress. Some took off their heels and ran for the exits and into waiting Ubers. Nothing left but vapor.

Why, the man stupidly wonders. So, he and Port wander the country looking for clues. It’s quite the mystery. In the meantime, Port broke this story, “A State Senator Cracked a Fart Joke During Floor Debate Today,” which really classed up the InForum website, but the dim duo still hadn’t cracked the riddle of the sprinting woman.

Here’s a clue, Columbo: Perhaps none of the women wanted to be felt up, or indelicately grabbed, by the predator in chief. The weird man may pine to be held close by the large soft piece of $#!*, with the wandering small, smooth hands, but it’s not a pleasant experience for everyone. Being ranked a four by the orange-tinted primate won’t get the peculiar man assaulted any time soon. Sad.

Anyway:

“The at-large congressman from North Dakota also reiterated that he hasn’t ruled out a Senate bid next year for the seat currently held by Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, and he said Trump has already pledged his support should Cramer decide to run.” — CNN.

It’s good to know that Kevin will have the backing of the Mad King, but it assumes a lot. Six weeks in, Trump is already up to his armpits in borscht, and is cracking under the pressure of three-day weekends, down from his accustomed seven.

DT has been tweeting various lies about Barack Obama — former president of the United States, kind of an important hombre, in case the sleazy birther forgot — and bragging about his golf scores.

His weekly trips to his safe space, the Mar-a-Lago resort, are costing American taxpayers millions, plus an extra half-million per day to keep Melania safe in New York, although you can hardly blame her for wanting time apart from the crude bastage. Plus, the old man hid her passport.

And if Donnie keeps tweeting trash to Arnold Schwarzenegger, Arnie might catch up to him on the back nine one day and squeeze DT’s head until his hair pops off like a fuzzy Dom Perignon cork. Even the Secret Service wouldn’t tell on the Terminator and Danny DeVito’s twin brother.

Becker and the Inglorious Bastiats

Besides, I think Rep. Rick Becker wants the senator job. Something is up. Not since the days of limit-free duck hunting have so many bills been carried by a single individual.

The primary could include Cramer, of the Bat$#!* Crazy Caucus and Becker of the Bastiat Caucus.

Thanks to the Bastiats, grandma can still sell her banana cream pies at the church fundraiser without the nanny state getting involved, as if that would stop her. They say nanny state a lot. Google maps can’t find it, but it seems to make them happy.

They couldn’t get raw milk legalized, though, so our freedoms got sapped, milk-wise, except for the lactose intolerant. We’ll still have buy our unpasteurized milk from those seedy-looking guys who man the corners of inner city Mott. Bring a pickup, or trailer, for faster service. Tipping not required but welcome.

They post on Facebook quite often, Memes featuring quotes of Frederic Bastiat, a Frenchman who died in 1850. He said some smart things, and most of them seem to take shots at the government and people who would be legislators, which seems masochistic. People who hate the government but want to be in it. I guess that schick has worked many decades for Cramer.

This Ludwig character also holds some sway with the Bastiat Caucus:

“Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders; no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way out for himself if society is sweeping toward destruction. Therefore, everyone, in his own interests, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle. None can stand aside with unconcern; the interest of everyone hangs on the result. Whether he chooses or not, every man is drawn into the great historical struggle, the decisive battle into which our epoch has plunged us.” ― Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973)

Dark quotes like Ludwig’s, — Wiggy to his friends — and the bills they introduced, which are gun-heavy and include issues like homeschooling, milk from the tap, marijuana, overwrought concern about refugees and the elimination of “safe spaces,” just in case they crop up, leads me to believe we have some ideologues on our hands. Namely, Libertarians, who ran as Republicans, so they would get more than twelve votes.

“Interesting or dorky? You decide. Mises, Bastiat, Goldwater, etc. — all on on Rick Becker’s desk in the State House.” From the Bastiat Caucus Facebook page.

There has never been a government that has successfully run on libertarian principles, so there’s that, but Dr. Becker is popular with the far right. It could be the glasses — or his ability to drive while simultaneously streaming his latest update to the troops. Most likely, it’s the guns. Freedom, dude!

A Bastiat Caucus meme:

“Many gun-control advocates really do believe that government regulation and management can solve every social ill. They ignore the realities behind failed experiments such as alcohol prohibition or the war on drugs and instead move on to the latest sexy prohibitionist drive because they sense an opportunity to control one more aspect of daily life.” — Ryan McMaken, Mises Institute

Or maybe some of us just want fewer people to be perforated with high-velocity lead, but whatever.

Becker also tried to free the liquor. According to the manager of his bars:

“So, some of you also know that the owner of our bars and most amazing boss ever happens to be a state legislator. Well, we’ve been working on a bill that would allow license holders to bypass distributors and purchase products that distributors are unwilling pick up. Yes. You read that correctly. GAME CHANGER.”

That bill failed, so we’ll have to manage with the zillion brands of alcohol we already have, and the beer selections are getting out of hand. Freedom averted this time but fewer top shelf bottles to dust saves on the Swiffer sheets.

Finally, this Bastiat Caucus gem:

“Bottom line: American beer is awesome, and Michael Moore is an as$h%le. #BeerIsFreedom”

We know Heitkamp. Don’t we?

Heidi could pull a fast one and switch parties. Allowing coal gruel in the streams? Really? That isn’t going to save the coal industry, anyway. Just because tangerine face doesn’t understand how markets work doesn’t mean you have to jump off the cliff with the bozo. And Ben Carson? Sheesh.

Seeing her in such a close proximity to weasel head made me itch. And there must be a hard to wash off fumes emanating from his odious carcass. It isn’t Old Spice. It’s probably the sweat from some endangered species, that one of his boys shot in a refuge for the filthy wealthy.

I would still crossover to vote for her in a three-way primary, since I wouldn’t vote for the other two on penalty of death — or worse. She will have options, but since Trump is intent on burning the place down, Heidi will remain a D.

Or she could just call it a day, and retire like people do.

Then a very wealthy Democrat, willing to spend his own money, will be needed. It’s a proven winning strategy.

Back to Cramer

How many months will Trump have spent behind bars by the time of the 2018 election, or will he have quit? Will he hang on and wash all of the R’s down the drain like bread crumbs?

45 isn’t right in the head, and defending his abhorrent behavior isn’t normal either. It isn’t a sign of good judgment, which begs the question:

Is Cramer any more fit to be a senator than Trump is to be president? No, he isn’t.

“He (Cramer) called Trump’s speech the best before Congress since President Reagan’s addresses three decades ago.” — E&E Daily

Now, that’s some certifiably insane *&@ $#!*. Dogs aren’t that loyal, even the stupid ones. The deranged riff on women’s fashion didn’t make him seem all that solid, either.

Paraphrasing the Dalai Lama:

“He may not be operating his brain properly.”

Cramer said this, just a handful of years ago: “We’ve normalized perversion and perverted God’s natural law.”

Such a charmer.

But what is Trump, if not a normalized pervert? He used to walk through teen beauty pageant dressing rooms and gawk — because he could, for crissakes! That’s OK with Cramer.

Cramer has always plays the pious one, but his views don’t come from the nonsmiting parts of the Bible. Not the one I read. Jesus, lepers, prostitutes, money-changers, the destitute and the other good stuff. What Would Trump Do? Not words to live by.

The congressman is positively giddy at the prospect of separating people from their health insurance and cutting assistance to the poor and hungry. As Trump’s footrest, he is willing to sacrifice lives, give corporations a greener light to pollute, take health care away from women, keep wages low and fight a woman’s right to choose.

Stained by Trump means being anti-science, lie-accepting, ethically challenged, xenophobic, racist, ignorant, anti-free speech, white nationalistic, Islamophobic, anti-government and a Putin loving bully. That’s OK with Cramer.

45 is narcissistic, offensive, an exaggerator and a megalomaniac. He condescends and is full of jealousy, yet fragile, and a sociopath. That’s OK with Cramer.

Trump has conned people out of thousands with a fake university, and he’s a bilker. He’s bilked his contractors, employees and business partners. There really isn’t enough space — or time — to do the whole list. His promises are worthless, but this is the slop bucket that Kevin Cramer chose to hitch his wagon.

Cramer handles the misogyny and homophobia just wonderfully by himself. He and his wife seem to be on the same page, which is between them, but his cherry- picked biblical views need not be accepted by the voters.

Given the choice between making Bakken oil producers make the mixture they ship by train safer by removing the explosive gases, he sided with big oil over the safety of his people. I asked. He answered. Let the market decide if more people should die. A malleable ideologue. Rare.

He holds a Town Hall one da, and then badmouths the people who attended the next day on the radio, hosted by his pooch Port.

Cramer’s a shill for oil and coal, as are his hounds. He got so excited when Trump mentioned the Dakota Access pipeline, in 45’s first big boy speech, he nearly had a seizure.

He is not a good person. Not a moral being. Not an empathetic individual. Not an honest man. Not an ethical human.

His wife, Kris, tried to help normalize his nutty white fit, but I still don’t know what “We wore plaid,” infers:

“Women in white: the majority of North Dakotans and I understand how you feel. We just lived through eight years of Barack Obama. We wore plaid.” — Kris Cramer

The Cramers could watch any of Obama’s State of the Union and see how the Republicans treated the president. Wearing white is peanuts comparatively.

History will judge this period harshly. That’s OK with Cramer.

I can imagine how one of the forthcoming anti-Cramer ads might go:

Cramer: “Waiter! What is this woman doing in my cream of milk soup?”

Waiter: “She appears to be giving you two fingers — and treading soup, sir.”

Cramer: “Well, I never. This is an obvious attack on President Trump!”

Waiter: “It is?”

Cramer: “And in broad daylight!”

Waiter: “I believe it is just regular daylight, sir.”

Cramer: “Take this away. First, we give them the vote, allow them to dress poorly, and now they want soup and comfortable shoes. When will this insanity end?”

Waiter: “Perhaps when #%&@!’s like you go extinct, sir.”