Darkness will arrive at the Capitol one hour earlier this weekend. Daylight Savings Time, which began in 1908 as a way to save energy, ends on Sunday. Set your clocks back one hour.
Redistricting, Spending Bills on the Agenda
North Dakota legislators will convene at the Capitol on Monday for a special session to address redistricting, spending recommendations for federal pandemic relief dollars, and possibly other "technical correction" bills.
Legislators had reserved four of their constitutionally-allotted 80 days for the session, but it could now go beyond that timeline because of Governor Doug Burgum's decision last week to call a special session. The governor's executive order specified several purposes for the session including redistricting; funding sources for statewide infrastructure and capital projects; natural gas utilization and transmission from western North Dakota to central and eastern communities for residential, commercial and industrial uses; statewide workforce program funding; investments in economic development opportunities; road, water and deferred maintenance needs across the state; and to address income tax relief for North Dakota taxpayers.
In addition to bills to address redistricting and spending priorities, a Delayed Bills Committee will consider the introduction of other proposals. Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, who chairs the Legislative Procedures Committee, said 25 bills have been proposed, and no others can be introduced.
Click here to listen to Wardner's comments.
Legislation to be considered by the Delayed Bills Committee covers a range of topics including vaccine mandates, voting procedures, state income tax, technical education and school construction. Wardner said any bills introduced by the Delayed Bills Committee will be considered by a Technical Corrections Committee.
Click here to listen to Wardner's comments.
Both houses will convene at 9:00 a.m. Monday. The Delayed Bills Committee will meet later in the morning, and the Joint Redistricting Committee is scheduled to meet at 2:00 p.m.
Click here to see the Special Session home page on the Legislative Council website.
Apps to CSEA Exceed Available Money
Public and private sector individuals who supported establishment of the state's Clean Sustainable Energy Authority predicted there would be a lot of interest in the program, and based on grant and loan applications received, they were right.
Monday was the deadline for the first round of grant/loan applications to be considered by CSEA, and the demand is huge. Lt. Governor Brent Sanford, speaking during a meeting of the ND EmPower Commission this week, said grant requests total $62.5 million, and loan requests add up to about $175 million.
The authority, established by the 2021 Legislature's enactment of HB 1452, was initially authorized with $25 million for grants, and $250 million through the Bank of North Dakota for loans. The governor's office submitted a request to lawmakers to put another $25 million into CSEA during recent meetings of the legislature's Appropriations Committees to consider how to spend federal funds available through the American Rescue Plan Act. Sanford said the level of interest in CSEA grants shows the need for additional money exists.
Click here to listen to Sanford's comments.
The Commerce Department reports it has more than $25 billion in potential private sector investment "in the pipeline," but many of those projects will require some assistance to become reality. Commerce Commissioner James Leiman said the department asked legislators for a total of $55 million to supplement existing state programs. That included $15 million each to the ND Development Fund and the Innovation Technology Loan Fund (LIFT), and the $25 million request for CSEA, but he said only $5 million has been recommended through the Appropriations Committees. Leiman said state officials will lobby for additional assistance during next week's special legislative session because the state could miss a lot of opportunities between now and the 2023 legislative session.
Click here to listen to Leiman's comments.
Projects submitted to CSEA for consideration must propose research, development, and technological advancements for large-scale development and commercialization of projects, processes, activities and technologies. Projects that reduce environmental impacts and/or increase sustainability of energy production and delivery are eligible for consideration. CSEA guidelines provide that a grant can be for 50% of a project’s costs with a minimum amount of $1 million and a maximum amount of $10 million. Loans can be for up to 50% of a project’s cost with a minimum loan or loan guarantee funding award of $10 million.
Click here for more information about the Clean Sustainable Energy Authority.
Touts State Opportunities for Clean Energy
State Commerce Commissioner James Leiman testified this week before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, explaining to members how a fossil fuel-producing state like North Dakota was seeking to achieve carbon neutrality.
Leiman, who appeared at the invitation of Senator Kevin Cramer, said the state's strategy of promoting "innovation, not regulation," to entice industry to the state is showing results.
Click here to listen to Leiman's comments.
The committee, which is considering legislation to reauthorize the federal Economic Development Administration, asked witnesses for suggestions to improve the performance of the agency. Leiman said rather than its current top-down approach, EDA should take more of its direction from the states.
Click here to listen to Leiman's comments.
Leiman said EDA should also devote more of its programming to workforce development, and employ a less stringent approach to helping rural communities transform their economies, noting that coal communities need help, and EDA grants can provide assistance.
Will Provide $6M Loan to Gas-to-Liquid Facility
The Williams County Commission voted this week to authorize a $6 million no-interest loan to Cerilon GTL ND in support of bringing a gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant to the Trenton area.
The loan is intended to be used towards engineering, licensor input, engineering surveys, project specialists’ inputs, project service providers, and reports related to the project. The county's action comes two weeks after state officials announced a loan for Cerilon from the ND Development Fund.
When completed, the Cerilon GTL ND plant will be the first of its kind in North America and will have the lowest carbon footprint of any GTL plant in the world. Initial GTL products derived from natural gas include ultra-low sulfur diesel, naphtha, and future plans could include military-grade jet fuel, other specialty products, and CO2 capture operations.
State Commerce Department officials say the project will provide the building blocks of GTL and petrochemical development that will enhance benefits to the state, county and the community.
“Not only is this an incredible opportunity in itself for a GTL plant to operate in Williams County, but it sets the stage for future industrial and petrochemical development," said Commission Chairman Steve Kemp.
The Cerilon GTL plant will bring 1,000 construction jobs and 80 permanent jobs to the county. The project also will lead to additional community infrastructure development and long-term property and sales tax revenue. The facility will also help to avoid any reduction of oil production caused by lack of natural gas takeaway capacity.
The loan is required to be paid back over a 24-month period once commercial operations commence or seven years, whichever is earlier.
Some Cities Will See Significant Decline
Political subdivisions in western North Dakota that receive a share of gross production tax (GPT) revenue are seeing that share change as the new fiscal year gets underway.
The distribution formula for cities is based on population, and if an individual city's percentage of the county's total population went up on down, its share of the county's GPT revenue will also go up or down.
Perhaps the most significant change is occurring in the city of Alexander, located in McKenzie County midway between Watford City and Williston. Between 2010 and 2020, Alexander's population increased from 223 to 319, an increase of 43 percent. But it pales in comparison to the 256 percent increase in Watford City. What it means for Alexander is that its share of the city portion of GPT revenue in McKenzie County will drop from 10.7 percent down to only 4.7 percent.
Other cities in the major oil-producing counties will also experience a shift in their percentage of GPT revenue. Tioga's 79 percent population growth will give it a bigger share of oil tax revenue in Williams County. Its share of the county's population, which excludes Williston because it is considered a hub city, increased from 52 percent to nearly 64 percent. That will mean a reduction in the share of other cities, especially Grenora and Epping, which lost population between 2010 and 2020.
Schools in western North Dakota can also expect a shift in their share of GPT revenue with the new census numbers, but it will be different than cities because a school's share is based on enrollment in the district, rather than the population of the city in which it's located. Higher oil prices will also help offset the drop in revenue for districts that have experienced either a decline in student enrollment or did not grow as much as other schools in the county.
Click here to see a table showing the percentage of population shift in the Big Four oil-producing counties - Dunn, McKenzie, Mountrail and Williams. Click here to see a table ranking the population of all North Dakota cities from the 2020 Census. Click here to see charts produced by the State Treasurer's Office that explain how oil taxes are distributed.
Coal Industry Employees Join the Protest
North Dakota political leaders have joined a growing chorus of citizens around the country aimed at blocking mandates by the Biden administration that would require millions of Americans to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The White House first announced plans in September to impose vaccine mandates on federal contractors, giving them until January 4, 2022 to be fully vaccinated against the virus. Federal OSHA rules to more broadly impose the mandate were officially entered into the federal register this week, affecting private businesses with 100 or more employees.
ND Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem announced last week the state was joining a suit led by Missouri challenging the federal contractor rules. Today, North Dakota joined another lawsuit opposing the 100-or-more employees rule. At least 20 other states have filed similar lawsuits.
"This lawsuit is not about whether people should get vaccinated, it is about opposing yet another federal overreach, this time an attempt by the federal government to commandeer private employers to require their employees to get vaccinated," Stenehjem said in his announcement of the lawsuit.
The petition supported by North Dakota states that "... this mandate is unconstitutional, unlawful, and unwise. The federal government lacks constitutional authority under its enumerated powers to issue this mandate, and its attempt to do so unconstitutionally infringes on the states’ powers expressly reserved by the Tenth Amendment. OSHA also lacks statutory authority to issue this mandate, which it shoe-horned into statutes that govern workplace safety, and which were never intended to federalize public-health policy."
Click here to read the filing.
Governor Doug Burgum lambasted the mandates in a statement issue today.
"The Biden administration’s overreaching mandate will only add to vaccine skepticism and resistance and exacerbate labor challenges while intruding on states’ rights and personal freedoms," Burgum said. "The courts should immediately block this OSHA emergency rule and protect the freedom of private employers to make decisions on vaccinations that are right for them and their businesses."
Click here to read Burgum's full statement.
Basin Electric Employees Join the Fight
Employees and contractors across the country have also grown tired of Biden administration regulations impacting their personal health and livelihoods. This week a group of 20 workers at the Dry Fork Station coal plant in Gillette, Wyoming spoke out against the vaccine mandate, demanding their state legislature take action.
One of the striking workers shared their frustrations. "It’s not that we want to protest and cause problems, we just feel like we’ve been backed into a corner by the current administration,” said the worker. "It’s not about so much the vaccine as it is the mandate."
The coal plant is operated by Basin Electric Power Cooperative, which provides power to more than three million consumers across nine states including North Dakota. The cooperative is still unsure how the mandates will be applied and compliance will be enforced for their 1,800 employees. Additional protests are scheduled for the coming weeks.
Click here to read more about the Wyoming protest in the Casper Star-Tribune.
Feds Pushing New Taxes and Regulations
Members of North Dakota's Congressional delegation are pushing back against several sweeping moves by the Biden administration to impose additional taxes and regulation on natural gas production in the United States.
Congressman Kelly Armstrong signed onto a resolution introduced by Congressman August Pfluger, R-TX, opposing the methane fee that House Democrats are proposing as part of their budget reconciliation bill. Methane is the primary component of natural gas, making the fee equivalent to a natural gas tax, which would result in a 17% increase in energy costs for the average American household.
The resolution, signed by 78 other members of the House, asserts the proposed natural gas tax would reduce GDP by $9 billion and result in 90,000 lost jobs. The resolution states that the proposal violates Biden's pledge not to raise taxes on those making less than $400,000 annually.
"Americans are facing rising costs on everything from energy to groceries, yet Congressional Democrats are pushing a natural gas tax that will further burden nearly every American," said Armstrong. "The natural gas tax will be expensive for consumers, hostile to North Dakota's energy producers, and terrible for American workers."
Read the full text of the resolution here.
In addition to the proposed methane fee, Biden also announced new EPA rules impacting oil and natural gas operations at the United Nations COP26 summit in Glasgow. The new Clean Air Act rule would create several new regulations, including:
• a comprehensive monitoring program for new and existing well sites and compressor stations;
• a zero-emissions standard for new and existing pneumatic controllers
• standards to eliminate venting of associated gas at new and existing oil wells;
• performance standards for storage tanks, pneumatic pumps, and compressors; and
• a requirement that states engage with stakeholders in developing methane reduction plans.
Senator John Hoeven blasted the announcement, pointing out that North Dakota has demonstrated it can produce more energy with better environmental stewardship than foreign nations.
"Last year, the oil and gas industry in our state captured 94 percent of all natural gas produced in the Bakken," Hoeven said. "We can replicate that success across the nation by providing regulatory relief and empowering the energy industry to invest in gas-gathering lines, transmission pipelines, and the facilities needed to capture and make good use of methane."
Senator Kevin Cramer agreed with Hoeven's sentiments, calling Biden's action "another harmful strike at America’s energy producers." He said "energy innovation, not penalization," is what has allowed the United States to lower emissions over the last decade.
Governor Doug Burgum joined the federal delegation in speaking out.
"Working with industry, our state has substantially reduced emissions from all phases of oil development, including wellheads, transmission, and gas processing," Burgum said. "The way to address methane emissions is through innovation, not redundant and burdensome regulations that will only drive energy production overseas where it is produced less cleanly and efficiently.”
The EPA intends to issue a supplementary proposal in 2022, including the regulatory text for the rules. Click here to read a draft version of the proposal.
Proposal Would Expand Energy, Create Jobs
In response to the overreaching climate and energy contingencies introduced in the Democrat-led Build Back Better budget reconciliation bill, Senate Republicans have introduced their own plan to curb carbon dioxide emissions.
ND Senator Kevin Cramer joined Senate colleagues Dan Sullivan, R-AK, and Cynthia Lummis, R-WY, in unveiling The American Energy, Jobs, and Climate Plan on Wednesday.
The plan seeks to meet the needs the group believes the Build Back Better plan has missed through five over-arching policies:
• Expanding current power and energy production base;
• Supporting infrastructure, critical mineral resources, and investments in renewable energy;
• Creating good-paying jobs in the energy and manufacturing sectors;
• Enacting comprehensive permitting reform; and
• Rebuilding the U.S. supply chain
In a news conference regarding the plan, Cramer invited others to bring their ideas on how to enhance energy development in the United States in a way that also reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
"This is a large and diverse package, and it’s not done. In other words, we’re inviting more," Cramer said. "I don’t even know if I’m for 100% of it, which is why it’s not a bill at this point, but it does represent some really good Republican and bipartisan efforts… we’re just setting the table today for further discussion.”
Recognized for Leadership in Growing District
Leslie Bieber, a member of WDEA's Executive Committee since 2017, has been named the North Dakota Superintendent of the Year by the ND Association of School Administrators.
Bieber, Superintendent of the Alexander School District, received the recognition as part of NDASA's engagement in the First Student, AIG Retirement and American Association of School Administrators Superintendent of the Year Program. The program pays tribute to the talent and vision of the men and women who lead the nation’s public schools.
As ND Superintendent of the Year, Bieber will be placed in competition with other states' winners for the award of National Superintendent of the Year. In addition, she will be honored along with other finalists at the National Conference on Education in Nashville in February.
Leslie grew up in Sidney, Montana and has lived in northwestern North Dakota throughout her education career. She is in her ninth year as the superintendent in Alexander, which is in the heart of the oilpatch about midway between Watford City and Williston. She worked one year as an elementary principal in Grenora, and served as a Spanish teacher for 13 years.
Under her leadership, the Alexander district has experienced a 150% increase in student enrollment and 100% increase in personnel. The school buildings and grounds have doubled in size with new construction and renovations to every aspect of the campus. Extracurricular activities, Career and Tech Education and STEM education have been introduced or returned to the district and continue to expand. Academically, Alexander has maintained a 96% graduation rate with 70% of the graduates career, military and college ready.
Road Widened, Added Lighting Improves Safety
The ND Department of Transportation and City of Dickinson celebrated the completion of the Interstate 94 East Business Loop project in Dickinson this week.
NDDOT Director Bill Panos, Dickinson Mayor Scott Decker, and other state and local officials were in attendance to participate in a ribbon cutting ceremony.
“The successful completion of this project brings new features that increase safety and improve traffic flow for the traveling public in Dickinson,” said Panos. “This was a team effort with the project managers, consultants, contractors and the City of Dickinson that will enhance our state transportation system.”
The $14.3 million project featured an asphalt overlay and lane widening on the I-94 Business Loop, and the addition of a shared-use path. Realignment and concrete work were completed at the intersection of 10th Avenue East and the Business Loop. The permanent traffic light at the intersection will be in place later this month.
The project also included a realignment of the access ramps on I-94 and the addition of high mast lighting to improve visibility in the area.
Contest Part of Winter Awareness Campaign
To attract attention to the importance of winter driving safety, the ND Department of Transportation announced a Name-A-Plow Contest this week, inviting North Dakotans to suggest names for a snowplow in their home district.
“Asking North Dakotans to submit snowplow names is another fun way to get the public interested and engaged in being safe this winter,” said Brad Darr, NDDOT Maintenance Director. “We hope people submit their best names and then promptly download the ND Roads app so they can be up to date on winter weather in their area."
Darr said making an effort to “know before you go” will help keep snowplow operators and other motorists safe this winter.
Winners will be selected shortly after the November 30 deadline and contest winners will have an opportunity to meet the plow operators and have their photo taken with the plow.
Click here for more information or to enter the contest.
Cities, Counties, Schools Urged to Apply
The ND Department of Environmental Quality is accepting applications for its FY 2021 State Clean Diesel Grant Program.
Schools, cities, counties, and other government agencies that require larger, diesel-powered vehicles are encouraged to apply for the grant awards. DEQ will issue $337,000 in awards funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to purchase new or newer, diesel-powered, zero-emission, hybrid, or alternatively fueled vehicles.
The purpose of the funding is to reduce diesel emissions in accordance with the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of the Energy Policy Act of 2010. To date, 102 older vehicles in North Dakota have been replaced using this funding, with a reduction in air emissions of about 200 tons over the lifetime of those vehicles.
Click here to see the application and program guidelines. Applications can be mailed to the Division of Air Quality, 4201 Normandy Street, Bismarck, ND 58503-1324 or emailed to email@example.com. The application deadline is November 30.
Slides from Oct. 13-14 Event in Williston
Attendees of the October 13-14 annual meeting of the Western Dakota Energy Association heard presentations from more than two dozen speakers, as well as engaging panel discussions on oilfield transportation, TENORM disposal and education/workforce needs.
PDF versions of the presentations can be downloaded from WDEA's website.
Oil & Gas Production Review, County-by-County results – Lynn Helms, Dept. of Mineral Resources
The Hydrogen Economy – Chad Wocken, EERC
Wise Roads – Road Evaluations and Closures: Look How Far We’ve Come – Curt Glasoe, NDLTAP
Wise Roads Project – Current Status and Future Enhancements - Jonathan Rosencrans, NDAWN
GRIT – New tools for Industry to Use to Evaluate Roadway Conditions – Leanna Emmer, NDLTAP
LoadPass Permits Expansion and System Enhancements – Joelle VanderLinden and Brent Bogar
TENORM History and Solutions – Williams County Panel
Theodore Roosevelt Expressway Association - Cal Klewin
America’s Rural Energy Coalition – Senator Brad Bekkedahl
North Bakken Expansion Project – Mark Anderson, WBI Energy
ONEOK Investments: Past, Present and Future – Dick Vande Bossche
Bakken Area Skill Center - Steve Holen, McKenzie County School Superintendent
Williston State College, Workforce Solutions – Dr. Bernell Hirning, WSC President
Redistricting in the West - Senator Rich Wardner
Electric Markets, Where Are We Headed? – John Weeda, ND Transmission Authority
- Project Tundra CO2 project comes before decisionmakers -- Bismarck Tribune
- Project Tundra responds to concerns of CO2 leakage -- Dickinson Press
- ND lawmakers pressure Biden on high energy costs -- Williston Herald
- ND PSC grants temporary approval to pipeline lacking permit -- Bismarck Tribune
- Pipeline slated to store ethanol's CO2 emissions in Oliver, Mercer counties -- Bismarck Tribune
- Financing, engineering setbacks plague North Dakota's $1B carbon capture project -- S&P Global
- Western leaders questions using ARPA funds for natural gas pipeline -- Williston Herald
- Proposed bills for North Dakota special session include controversial topics -- Bismarck Tribune
- Special session of legislature likely to bring wins to western North Dakota -- Crosby Journal
- Lt. Governor Sanford speaks at Coal Conversion Counties meeting -- Beulah Beacon
- Sen. Hoeven visits WBI's North Bakken Expansion Pipeline project -- KFYR
- In-state investment program for Legacy Fund won't kick off until next year -- Fargo Forum
- Port: Why don’t violent pipeline protests receive same scrutiny as Trump protests? -- SayAnything Blog
- County redistricting plan would impact one township — Fillmore -- Crosby Journal
- City of Crosby planning and zoning ordinance update nears completion -- Crosby Journal
- Council considers reviving dormant planning, human relations commissions -- Minot Daily News
- Tioga special election next week to fill vacant city commission seat -- Tioga Tribune
- Change announced at City Hall; Alexa Kruger appointed city auditor -- Crosby Journal
- City of Minot continues move toward curbside recycling -- Minot Daily News
- ND homeschooling increases more than 1,500 students in the past two years -- Dickinson Press
- Over 6,000 toy airplanes donated to ND 5th graders to encourage STEM education -- KX News
- DPI, educators push for computer technology in North Dakota schools -- KFYR-TV
- Fargo lawmaker leading drive to ban critical race theory in ND schools -- KVRR-TV
- Fewer substitute teachers causing major problems for Minot-area school districts -- KMOT-TV
- Climate’s real existential crisis, extremism is causing an energy crisis -- Washington Examiner
- Biden Administration admits it's killing U.S. economy for no reason -- Red State
- Wind turbine failures behind Europe energy crisis a warning to America -- Newsweek
- America's incoherent energy/climate policies, fossil-fuel phase out unrealistic -- Inside Sources
- Build Back Better has 185 times more for climate than pandemic preparedness -- Fox News
- Added transnational oil pipeline capacity could reduce crude oil shipped by rail -- EIA
- Oil prices surge again after OPEC ignores Biden plea for more production -- Daily Caller
- Maine voters reject transmission line; How NIMBY blocks renewable expansion -- Forbes
- Delegation introduces legislation to improve access to state-owned minerals -- Senator Cramer
Factoid of the Week
Source: NS Energy
November 5, 2021
WTI Crude: $81.27
Brent Crude: $82.74
Natural Gas: $5.52
North Dakota Active Oil Rigs: 32 (Up 1) 11/5/2020 -- 14 rigs