Legislators from Minnesota and North Dakota check out 8200 Liberty, the 9.2 million pound dragline at the Center Mine which supplies lignite to the nearby Milton R. Young Station.
Calls US Energy Policy "Deeply Dangerous"
Author and energy expert Robert Bryce told attendees at this week's fall conference of the Lignite Energy Council that the push by activists and federal policy makers to "electrify everything" is not just a bad idea, "it's deeply dangerous."
Bryce, who has written six books on various energy-related topics, said if America is serious about resilience and reliability, people should be able to obtain energy from a variety of sources. Quoting Tucker Perkins with the Propane Education & Research Council, he said America needs a "3D grid."
"We need the overhead (electric transmission) grid. We need the surface grid where you find propane, where you find the fuel in my rental car out in the parking lot," Bryce said. "And we need the underground grid, the pipeline grid that provides crude and refined products, and natural gas."
Bryce said the campaign to electrify everything is not just a bad idea in terms of reliability, it's also a terrible idea in terms of affordability.
"It's not beneficial electrification, it's forced electrification that would force consumers to pay for electricity at a price four times the energy equivalent cost of natural gas," he said.
Bryce said Americans should demand answers from the Biden's administration's goal of decarbonizing the US electric grid by 2035. He said the US generates about 4,200 terawatt hours of electricity per year, about 2,700 of which is produced from coal and natural gas.
"And here is the administration saying with a straight face that we're going to do this in 14 years? Well, map it out for me," Bryce said. "How are you going to do it? Where are you going to put it? How are you going to connect it? How are you going to pay for it?"
The Biden administration is pushing decarbonization in the name of climate change, but Bryce said climate is not the only concern.
"We have what is really climate absolutism that is dominating the discussion, that every molecule of CO2 is bad and that therefore, we're going to have to reduce, slash, really get rid of all CO2. But at what cost?" Bryce asked. "What cost to affordability, reliability, resilience?"
Bryce noted growing resistance to wind, solar and other renewable installations. Hundreds of projects have been rejected around the country (See Bryce's article below in Quick Connect). Some counties, including a couple in North Dakota, have imposed moratoriums or completely banned renewable projects.
"The last three months, huge solar projects proposed in Nevada, Montana and Pennsylvania, all were rejected by local communities," Bryce said. "What's the problem? It's about footprint. It's about the lack of power density, it's fundamental physics, low power density. The lower the power density, the higher the resource intensity."
Bryce said if only wind power was used to meet current electric demand, it would require 900,000 square kilometers of land, an area the size of two Californias. He said the idea of running the country on renewable energy is unrealistic.
"It's just not serious, it's deeply unserious, and that makes it worse, because it's an indicator of the degradation of our discourse in America about energy and power," Bryce said.
Click here to see Bryce's website with links to articles, podcasts and videos.
R&D Will Make Coal and Carbon More Valuable
Some misguided politicians may view carbon dioxide as a problem that threatens to alter Earth's climate, but Governor Doug Burgum sees it as an enormous opportunity for North Dakota.
In remarks to this week's fall conference of the Lignite Energy Council, Burgum said the state has experienced a huge amount of interest in CO2-related projects since he issued a challenge in May that the state become "carbon neutral" by 2030 (see article in May 14 newsletter).
"I have to say this even exceeded our estimates and expectations because now we have a list of over $25 billion, with a B, genuinely-interested legitimate companies that want to invest in value-added energy in North Dakota, and their interest is here because of the fact that we have the geologic capability to do the CO2 storage," Burgum said.
The governor said geologists have estimated the state has the ability to store 252 billion tons of carbon dioxide in underground formations.
"How much is 252 billion tons of CO2?" Burgum asked. "Well, that would be 4,400 years of the CO2 that North Dakota produces right now. We could store 50 years of all the CO2 in the United States."
Burgum said researchers, particularly those at the Energy and Environmental Research Center at UND, are finding more and better uses for carbon. He noted the use of coal to produce carbon fiber, and using CO2 to enhance plant growth in greenhouses.
"We have an opportunity to grow crops that you've never heard of in North Dakota 12 months of the year, and we can do it in the things that are heated by your industry and enhance their growth because of the CO2," Burgum said.
The governor noted that Denbury Resources is planning to pump CO2 from Wyoming into wells in Bowman County for enhanced oil recovery, which he expects will eventually expand to horizontal wells throughout the Bakken. He said when EOR is perfected in the Bakken, experts estimate it will allow recovery of an additional eight billion barrels of oil.
"CO2 is going to become something that we don't have enough for the oil industry, which really drives the revenue for the state of North Dakota," Burgum said.
Anderson Named CSEA Executive Director
The ND Industrial Commission gave its approval this week to a 12-page set of guidelines that will govern the process of doling out grants and loans from the newly-created Clean Sustainable Energy Authority (CSEA).
The NDIC also formally approved the appointment of former Commerce Commissioner Al Anderson as the authority's executive director. Anderson was recruited by Commerce to assist in the development of the guidelines. He explained that Commerce worked with the Bank of North Dakota and the authority's technical committee to develop the guidelines.
Click here to listen to Anderson's comments.
The authority was created by the 2021 Legislature's passage of HB 1452. The stated goal of the legislation is to "support research, development, and technological advancements through partnerships and financial support for the large scale development and commercialization of projects, processes, activities, and technologies that reduce environmental impacts and increase sustainability of energy production and delivery."
The CSEA's non-voting technical committee includes representatives of the Departments of Commerce, Environmental Quality, Mineral Resources, the Pipeline Authority, the Transmission Authority, EERC, the Bank of ND and the Outdoor Heritage Fund advisory board.
Anderson said there has been considerable interest in the grants and loans available through the authority. He said an aggressive timeline has been established to get the program moving by the end of the year.
Click here to listen to Anderson's comments.
The legislation that established the authority provided $25 million in grant funds, and $250 million in borrowing authority from the Bank of North Dakota. Commerce officials have speculated the funds may be exhausted by the end of the second grant round early next year.
Facility Capable of TENORM Disposal
The North Dakota Industrial Commission this week gave its approval to a second slurry injection well that will be capable of permanently disposing of TENORM waste (Technologically-Enhanced, Natural Occurring Radioactive Material) in underground formations.
The application was submitted by GMJS Services LLC for a treating facility and disposal well located along Highway 85 in McKenzie County about halfway between Williston and Alexander. The facility will be the second well capable of disposing of TENORM, which is typically found in filter socks, tank bottoms, pipe scale and other industrial processes that concentrate the low-level radioactive material. Another well also in McKenzie County is operated by KT Enterprises just south of Johnsons Corner.
Lynn Helms, director of the Department of Mineral Resources, said there were local concerns about the facility. He said a township officer noted the access road was shared by school buses, and the owner of a couple nearby housing developments was also concerned about truck traffic. But Helms said DMR believes the project developer has adequately responded to the concerns.
Click here to listen to Helms' comments.
Helms said the department is also comfortable with the company's ability to safely operate the disposal well.
Click here to listen to Helms' comments.
The NDIC did require GMJS to post a $200,000 bond, twice the amount normally required for a disposal well. Helms said it was appropriate because slurry wells are prone to plugging, and could cost more to plug and reclaim.
Plan Includes Tax Credits for ND Citizens
Money Would Fund Watford City to Long X 4-Lane
Gov. Doug Burgum offered his recommendations to the legislature this week for the state's use of federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
The governor's "Accelerate ND" plan also includes using a portion of the state’s near-record ending fund balance from the 2019-21 budget to provide $207 million of state income tax credits over two years. The proposal would provide an individual income tax credit of up to $500 per filed return, per year, for 2021 and 2022 for North Dakota resident taxpayers.
“Between the pandemic, the economic slowdown that accompanied it, and the historic drought conditions that continue to cause real hardship for farmers, ranchers and Main Streets, North Dakotans deserve a measure of relief,” Burgum said.
The American Rescue Plan Act, enacted by Congress in March, allocated a total of $3.2 billion to North Dakota. About $1.85 billion provided economic impact payments to individuals and grants to specific entities, and $242 million went directly to cities and counties. The state received the remainder -- $1.008 billion in ARPA State Fiscal Relief funds and $113 million in ARPA Coronavirus Capital Projects funds, for a total of $1.12 billion.
The legislature already appropriated $423 million for transportation infrastructure and capital projects. With the remaining $697 million, the governor is recommending investments in three areas:
- $326 million for workforce and economic development
- $237 million for infrastructure and capital improvements
- $134 million for emergency response, health care and citizen service
Road and bridge funding proposed by Burgum would fund construction of a four-lane highway from Watford City to the Long X bridge, finally eliminating the dangerous section of head-to-head highway traffic. It also includes support for township roads across the state, and installation of median cable guardrail on all of I-29 and I-94 to prevent cross-median crashes.
Energy-related provisions proposed by the governor include $100 million for a matching grant program to capture and transport excess natural gas from western to eastern North Dakota, which Burgum said offers the potential to add up to $50 million per month in additional oil tax revenue due to expanded natural gas takeaway capacity. The plan also proposes $6.4 million for the conversion of 20 to 30 abandoned oil wells to provide water supply for livestock, and $25 million to the Clean Sustainable Energy Authority for grants to support the development of low-emission energy technology.
Burgum said investing the ARPA dollars now will help address immediate needs, avoid inflation and rising construction costs (allowing contracts to be bid this winter for the 2022 construction season), and help North Dakota stay competitive by using ARPA dollars to address workforce shortages.
Click here to see Powerpoint slides from the presentation.
Industry and Others Donate to Match Grant
Community leaders in McKenzie County have been discussing how to integrate workforce skills education for high school students and retraining for adults for the past several years, and now a plan is taking shape for establishment of the Bakken Area Skill Center.
Formal meetings began in 2017 to develop the Workforce Skills Initiative, which allows industry partners to share curriculum with the school district as well as coordinate career visits to expose students to energy-related employment opportunities. Since then, the need for a dedicated space for hands-on skills training has grown, and community leaders have again joined forces to envision a facility that would combine all aspects of K-12, post-secondary, adult retraining and certifications, and general community outreach and education.
The Bakken Area Skill Center will be where local industry and education meet, giving McKenzie County Public School District students and others the opportunity to train locally for high demand jobs in the Bakken. The project is a combined effort between MCPSD, McKenzie County Economic Development, and industry and educational partners.
"(Innovation and workforce) are really the foundation of what this Bakken Area Skill Center is supposed to be. It is going to be an opportunity for innovation to happen in our area, as we are finding a way to work through the rest of this area's development," said McKenzie County Superintendent Steve Holen, who spoke last week at the ND Petroleum Council's annual meeting in Watford City. "We have since the very beginning tried to work with industry because we are both very much partners in this process of providing a workforce and providing the services that they need. When asked what do you need, (industry said) we need workforce. And we want to prepare students for the workforce."
It is hoped the project will be funded in part by a competitive grant program created by HB 1015 passed by the 2021 ND Legislature. The program will allocate 1-to-1 matching grants for ND public school districts or CTE centers pursuing the expansion of career and workforce skills to students across the state. A total of $70 million was allocated with $35 million available in the first round of grants, applications for which were due October 1.
The skill center project has received several sizable donations from the private sector and other units of government. The McKenzie County Commission pledged $4 million over two years. ONEOK pledged $1 million and ConocoPhillips and Northern States Fishing Tools pledged another $100,000 each. Local American Legion and Masons organizations have also pitched in.
Holen will share more on the Bakken Area Skill Center, the project's plans and goals, and how to get involved at the WDEA annual meeting on Thursday, October 14, in Williston.
First Meeting Includes Tech Ed Discussion
The ND Legislature's Education Funding Committee will hold its first meeting of the interim next Thursday, October 7, at the Capitol in Bismarck.
The agenda includes discussion of the committee's study of career and technical education. Legislators will hear a review of the Department of Career and Technical Education's budget and career and tech ed course cost reimbursement at schools and area career and technical centers. The committee will also examine costs associated with students traveling for CTE coursework or hands-on labs, as well as requests to approve funding from the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund to provide tuition assistance for new farmers and ranchers.
The CTE discussion will conclude with an update on the use of $70 million of one-time funding anticipated to be received through the federal American Rescue Plan Act for a statewide area career center grant program.
The committee will also hear presentations from representatives of the Department of Public Instruction regarding fall enrollment figures, transportation aid, special education costs, and the impact of state school aid formula changes the past two legislative sessions.
Click here to see the committee agenda.
Early Bird Registration Expires Today!
Anyone interested in learning the latest developments on the energy front in North Dakota should register now to attend the Western Dakota Energy Association's annual meeting to be held October 13-14 at The ARC in Williston.
Registration for the two-day event is just $95.00, which includes an evening social, breakfast and lunch, and snacks during morning and afternoon breaks. Click here to register. The early registration rate will expire October 1.
The in-person meeting will get underway at 1:00 Wednesday afternoon, and will begin with Lynn Helms, one of the event's favorite speakers. Helms, the director of the Department of Mineral Resources, will deliver his traditional county-by-county production forecast report at 1:15, following opening remarks by WDEA President Shannon Holter and a welcome message from Williams County Commission Chairman Steve Kemp.
The opening day will also feature presentations about the emerging hydrogen economy, updates regarding LoadPass Permits and the Wise Roads project, a panel discussion of transportation and truck permitting issues, and a status report on North Dakota's impending solutions to dispose of TENORM (technologically-enhanced, naturally-occurring radioactive material). Attendees of the evening social will be entertained by singer/songwriter Alma Cook, and hear an update on efforts to four-lane portions of Highway 85 from Cal Klewin, director of the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway Association.
Day Two features a keynote address from Lt. Governor Brent Sanford during the noon luncheon. The day kicks off with a welcome message from Williston Mayor Howard Klug. The morning agenda includes presentations about a new national shale energy organization, challenges for natural gas midstream operators, opportunities created by energy legislation passed in 2021, a report on development of the Bakken Area Skills Center, a panel discussion on education funding and other school-related issues, remarks from Williston State College President Bernell Hirning, and a report on interim legislative activity from Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner.
The wrap-up Thursday afternoon includes a review of oil and natural gas takeaway capacity from ND Pipeline Authority Director Justin Kringstad, an electric market update from Transmission Authority Director John Weeda, and concludes with election of the WDEA Executive Committee. Board members up for election who are eligible to serve an additional three-year term include Bowman Mayor Lyn James, Williams County Commissioner David Montgomery, Washburn Superintendent Brad Rinas who represents the Coal Conversion Counties, and a new member will be chosen to represent education members to replace Dickinson Superintendent Shon Hocker, who resigned after accepting a position in Idaho.
Sanford Receives Public Service Award
Three lignite mines and three power plants received safety awards, and a dozen individuals were honored for their contributions to the lignite industry during the Lignite Energy Council’s fall conference this week.
ND Lieutenant Governor Brent Sanford received the Lignite Public Service Award for his support of the lignite industry to promote legislation that encourages an “all-of-the-above” balance of generation sources in the state. Sanford was also recognized for his efforts to locate a buyer for Coal Creek Station, an 1,151-megawatt coal plant near Underwood.
Employees of the Freedom Mine, the Falkirk Mine, the Milton R. Young Station, and the Lewis & Clark Station were recognized with Distinguished Safety Awards for having an accident incident rate lower than the national average. Employees at the Coyote Creek Mine and Coyote Station received special recognition for achieving the lowest overall accident incident rate in the lignite industry in 2020.
Abrasives, Inc., headquartered in Glen Ullin won the Lignite Energy Council’s 2021 Contractor/Supplier Member of the Year Award. The company turns bottom ash from the Young Station and Coyote Station into abrasives. They also sell the black sand for landscaping purposes.
Five individuals were recognized for their contributions to the lignite industry over the span of their careers. They were honored with the Ambassador of Lignite Award for their achievements and support of the lignite industry. The recipients included:
· Dan Dorfschmidt, Butler Machinery;
· David Farnsworth, Great River Energy;
· Curt Latendresse, Central Machining and Pump Repair;
· Ron Pickar, Komatsu Mining Corporation; and
· Dean Moos, ND Public Service Commission.
The North Dakota Public Service Commission also recognized the Coyote Creek Mine southwest of Beulah for implementing a successful water management plan for the north haul road at the mine.
No Environmental Impact on Northeast Option
The Federal Highway Administration has determined that the preferred alternative for Williston's Northeast Truck Reliever Route will have no significant impact on the environment.
Design elements of the preferred alternative consist of new highway alignment, replacing existing bridges, a new crossing of the BNSF railroad, controlled access, right of way, and incidentals. The route would be about nine miles in length, consisting of a four-lane undivided roadway with a flush center median. The project would be completed in segments, with construction of the first to begin in 2025.
The Finding of No Significant Impact is based on a January 2020 Environmental Assessment, which has been independently evaluated by FHWA and determined to adequately discuss the need, environmental issues and impacts of the project, and mitigation measures.
The September 2021 FONSI is available for public viewing. Click here to read or download the 418-page document. Hard copies can also be viewed at the NDDOT Williston District Office, the Williston Community Library, at City of Williston offices on East Broadway, the NDDOT Central Office in Bismarck, and online at dot.nd.gov/projects/williston.
Input Sought on Hwy 200 Project
The ND Department of Transportation is seeking public comments on proposed improvements to Highway 200 from Main Street in Hazen to the Hazen Golf Course.
NDDOT will hold a public input meeting on the planned improvements October 7 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Hazen City Hall. The plan includes proposed lighting improvements, a shared-use path, and a box culvert pedestrian crossing.
Representatives from NDDOT, the City of Hazen, and Ackerman-Estvold will be on hand to answer questions and discuss concerns. Anyone unable to attend the public input meeting can submit comments by October 22 to Stacy Flaten, Consultant Project Manager, Ackerman-Estvold, 4165 30th Ave S, Suite 100, Fargo, ND 58104, or email email@example.com.
Advisory Group to Gather Tuesday, October 5
The LoadPass Permits Advisory Committee will hold its fall meeting Tuesday, October 5, at the conclusion of the annual conference of the ND Association of Counties.
The group, chaired by Mountrail County Commissioner and WDEA board member Trudy Ruland, will meet at approximately 2:15 p.m. in the Prairie Rose Room on the upper level of the Bismarck Event Center.
The agenda for the meeting includes:
The current financial report
Harvest permit seasonal fees
New LoadPass interface
Axle Weight Information
Adding small structures and bridges
Wise Roads update
LoadPass Statewide Expansion update
A Zoom option is available for those who cannot attend in person. Participants may request the Zoom link by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Whiting closes on more Bakken acres in Mountrail County -- Williston Herald
- Senate Democrats confirm eco-terrorist Tracy Stone-Manning for BLM -- KFYR-TV
- Committee creates sub-districts for two ND reservations -- Bismarck Tribune
- Brown: Leap in ultimate recoveries show Bakken's core is growing -- Williston Herald
- Williston Airport adding additional flights due to passenger demand -- Williston Herald
- Speakers talk wary investors, crypto mining at North Dakota coal event -- Bismarck Tribune
- ND hospital capacity reaching 'critical' levels, state and medical leaders say -- Bismarck Tribune
- District 39 to see big changes under new redistricting plan -- McKenzie County Farmer
- Watford City Airport with 6,550 foot runway to reopen on October 1 -- McKenzie County Farmer
- Nearly $10M defense grant to help with Minot flood wall project -- Minot Daily News
- County approves $14 million budget, slight decrease in property taxes -- McLean County Independent
- TR National Park superintendent pegged for Midwest deputy regional director -- Dickinson Press
- Commissioners trim budget, preliminary plan includes small property tax hike -- Minot Daily News
- Work to begin Monday on Burdick, includes Broadway/Burdick intersection -- Minot Daily News
- Williston resident Larry Dokken inducted into NDPC Hall of Fame -- Williston Herald
- 'Tioga is in me' - Neset Takes Broad Focus to Service -- Minot Daily News
- Instructor at Dickinson Adult Learning Center named educator of the year -- Dickinson Press
- Ray school budget includes another required levy hike -- Tioga Tribune
- Nationwide school bus driver shortage hits North Dakota -- KX News
- Pipeline worker: Joe Biden’s energy policies hurt my family -- Real Clear Energy
- Home heating sticker shock: The cost of natural gas is up 180% -- CNN Business
- China energy crunch triggers shutdowns, pleas for more coal -- Reuters
- Here comes $90 oil, Delta variant recovery has been faster than expected -- CNN Business
- Lindzen: The Imaginary Climate Crisis – How can we change the message? -- Paper
- Joe Biden's 'green' energy obsession Is already a disaster -- Real Clear Energy
- 317 wind energy rejections the Sierra Club doesn't want you to see -- Forbes
Factoid of the Week
Source: ND State Water Commission
Bismarck Event Center
The ARC - Williston
Bismarck Event Center
Ramkota Hotel - Bismarck
October 1, 2021
WTI Crude: $75.88
Brent Crude: $79.28
Natural Gas: $5.62
North Dakota Active Oil Rigs: 28 (Up 1) 10/1/2020 -- 10 rigs