Citizens angry with the White House vaccine mandate for workers in health care and private industry organized a rally Monday on the Capitol grounds. Hundreds attended the event.
Project to Move Bakken Gas to Eastern ND
The North Dakota Legislature this week approved a $150 million appropriation from federal pandemic relief funds to support construction of a major natural gas pipeline to eastern North Dakota.
In his State-of-the-State message that opened this week's special legislative session, Gov. Doug Burgum described the importance of the project. He said additional gas takeaway capacity will be needed soon or oil producers will be forced to constrain production to avoid flaring the associated natural gas.
Click here to listen to Burgum's comments.
Burgum said in addition to allowing additional oil production in western North Dakota, the cross-state pipeline project would create economic development opportunities in the east and generate additional tax revenue for the state.
Click here to listen to Burgum's comments.
Representatives of Dakota Natural Gas, a company that has recently developed natural gas distribution systems in Hillsboro, Mayville and Drayton, requested an amendment to the bill that would have allowed the ND Industrial Commission to offer matching grants for municipal distribution pipelines. DNG President Cody Chilson said such projects would support the pipeline, but are currently uneconomic for most unserved cities.
Click here to listen to Chilson's comments.
The Senate Appropriations Committee did not adopt the DNG Amendment.
On final consideration on the Senate floor, Appropriations Chairman Ray Holmberg of Grand Forks, characterized the cross-state pipeline as a "legacy project" that would enable North Dakota to compete with other states for industrial development.
Click here to listen to Holmberg's comments.
Because the $150 million allocation may not be enough to attract a pipeline developer, language was added to the bill expressing the legislature's intent that the 2023 Legislature "consider providing additional funding ... for the transportation and competitive selling of natural gas to eastern North Dakota." SB 2345 also includes $10 million that would support construction of a separate pipeline project that would provide additional natural gas to Grand Forks by tapping the Viking Pipeline in western Minnesota.
Program Provides Drought Relief in the West
The ND Legislature gave its approval this week to a $3.2 million plan to convert abandoned oil wells to provide fresh water for livestock.
The program, proposed by the Department of Mineral Resources, is an expansion of a plugging and reclamation program initiated last year to provide employment opportunities to displaced oilfield workers. DMR Director Lynn Helms said the department has identified 32 wells that are candidates for the program, and funds provided in SB 2345 are sufficient to convert half of them.
Click here to listen to Helms' comments.
Working with the Medora Grazing Association, DMR has already converted six abandoned wells to provide water for livestock. It was done as part of the program authorized last year that used $66 million in CARES Act funding to plug and later reclaim abandoned well sites.
Helms said upon completion of the conversion process, the well would be owned either by the surface owner or a grazing association that holds a lease on land controlled by the federal government.
Click here to see Helms' written testimony, which includes a prioritized list of the proposed sites.
Big Four Oil Counties Will Get $11 Million
The ND Legislature this week approved a $100 million allocation that will be distributed to counties throughout the state based on their road and bridge needs.
The funding is part of HB 1505, and is capped at a maximum of $3 million per county. Both McKenzie and Williams Counties will receive the maximum allotment, Dunn County will get $2.73 million, and Mountrail County will receive about $2.36 million. The state's 53 counties will collectively receive about $75.3 million directly, with the balance to be used by the ND Department of Transportation for county bridge projects.
The original version of the legislation would have distributed the revenue through the highway distribution formula, but the bill was amended to base it on the county needs study developed by the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute. Jamestown Senator Terry Wanzek said most legislators agreed it was the fairest way to distribute the funds.
Click here to listen to Wanzek's comments.
The original proposal would have split the funds 80-20 between roads and bridges. But when the $3 million cap was applied, it resulted in a shift of $4.65 million from large urban and oil counties, which amounted to $24.65 million earmarked for bridge projects. It will be administered by NDDOT, which was directed tp provide "grants to counties for county bridge projects based on an application process developed by the department of transportation.” The legislation also includes $17 million that will go proportionately to townships in non-oil producing counties.
Click here to see a chart showing each county's share of the funds.
Legislation Ok'd by Wide Margin in Both Houses
The North Dakota Legislature, meeting in special session this week, passed a bill that prohibits the teaching of "critical race theory" in the state's K-12 school districts.
HB 1508 defines critical race theory as "the theory that racism is not merely the product of learned individual bias or prejudice, but that racism is systemically embedded in American society and the American legal system to facilitate racial inequality."
Mott Senator Don Schaible, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, said he doesn't believe the theory is currently being taught anywhere in North Dakota schools, but the purpose of the bill is to prevent it from occurring.
Click here to listen to Schaible's comments.
Bismarck Senator Erin Oban opposed the legislation. Oban said the bill was more about politics than policy, and that it was not a serious issue for the state's K-12 school districts.
Click here to listen to Oban's comments.
Minot Senator Oley Larsen said critical race theory may not be a serious issue in North Dakota schools today, but he said objectionable ideas have a way of creeping into the curriculum. Larsen, who supported the bill, said he is concerned that the theory could be making its way into the state's schools
Click here to listen to Larsen's comments.
Some legislators who opposed the bill pointed out that no penalty is provided for violations. But supporters said the same is true of other curriculum directives, and that a violation could become an actionable item for a local school board.
The bill passed the House 76-16 and and was approved by the Senate on a 38-9 vote.
Legislature Approves Redistricting Bill
Both Houses of the ND Legislature argued this week over the formation of legislative sub-districts to ensure representative for Native Americans before agreeing to carve out two of them.
HB 1504, which establishes new legislative district boundaries based on the 2020 Census, passed both houses by wide margins, 73-18 in the House and 40-7 in the Senate, but not before heated debate about creating the two sub-districts.
The new boundaries split District 4 into two sub-districts, with 4A encompassing the Ft. Berthold Reservation. Farther east along the northern border, District 9 is split, with the new 9A-sub-district being home to the Turtle Mountain Reservation. Legislators in both houses asked for division of the bill so the sub-districts could be voted on separately. The plan passed the House by a vote of 54-37, and cleared the Senate on a 26-21 vote.
New Town Rep. Terry Jones, who currently represents District 4, argued against the sub-districts which were developed based on criteria provided in the federal Voting Rights Act. Jones said the legislature's Redistricting Committee failed to establish that the all criteria had been met, particularly those requiring that "racial animus" be documented.
Click here to listen to Jones' comments.
Finley Rep. Bill Devlin, who chaired the Redistricting Committee, argued that the Voting Rights' criteria had been met, and legislators had no choice but to comply with the federal statute.
Click here to listen to Devlin's comments.
In the other house, District 4 Senator Jordan Kannianen argued against formation of the sub-districts. Kannianen said one of the criteria requires a showing that a sizable minority group has not been able to elect its preferred candidate. But he pointed out that the current District 9 Senator is Richard Marcellais, who previously served as chairman of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. And Kannianen said his research showed that District 9 has not elected a Republican legislator as far back as he could find records.
Kannianen also pointed out that re-districting could have the opposite effect of its intent. He said District 9 as a whole has a strong majority of Native Americans, but splitting it means 9A would be about 82 percent Native American, but 9B would be only about 35 percent Native, increasing the chances that a non-preferred candidate could win.
Click here to listen to Kannianen's comments.
When the division vote failed in the Senate, Kannianen proposed an amendment that would have required the interim Redistricting Committee to develop a plan to subdivide all 47 legislative districts. The proposal failed on a voice vote.
Redistricting will mean more legislative clout for western North Dakota, resulting in additional representation for the Dickinson and Williston areas. Click here to see a previous WDEA article about the new districts. Click here to see detailed maps of all the new legislative districts. Click here to read a Dickinson Press article about matchups that redistricting creates among legislative incumbents.
ND Taxpayers to Receive $350 Rebate
Gov. Doug Burgum has signed into law legislation approved during this week's special session to provide $211 million in income tax relief over the next two years to North Dakota taxpayers.
HB 1515 originally mirrored the governor’s Accelerate ND income tax proposal. The amended version approved by lawmakers provides an income tax credit of up to $350 per year for resident individual income taxpayers, or $700 per year for individuals filing a married joint return, effective for tax years 2021 and 2022.
Burgum pitched the idea of an income tax credit during his State-of-the-State remarks on Monday. He said he's heard a few critics who said it's not the right time provide a tax break, but responded by pointing out the state is in good financial condition, and that citizens coming out of the pandemic-induced recession can use the money.
Click here to listen to Burgum's comments.
The bill was introduced by Bismarck Rep. Pat Heinert, who agreed with Burgum that citizens would find a productive use for the money.
Click here to listen to Heinert's comments.
The bill will eliminate state income tax liability for approximately 210,000 returns, which represents 300,000 taxpayers when accounting for the two adults who file a married joint return. An additional 140,000 returns will receive a partial reduction, which represents 200,000 taxpayers when accounting for married joint returns, according to State Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger. who worked with both the governor and Heinert on the tax relief proposals.
The tax relief will be funded from the state’s $412 million excess general fund balance from the 2019-21 biennium. The legislature budgeted for an ending fund balance of $710 million, but the actual balance was $1.12 billion, attributable to higher than anticipated Legacy Fund earnings and the use of federal pandemic relief funds to pay state expenses.
The bill passed the House 92-0 on Thursday and the Senate 40-7 today.
The Legislature also passed a bill exempting Social Security income from state income tax, becoming the 38th state to do so. The bill, introduced by Sen. David Hogue of Minot, will provide an estimated $14.6 million in savings per biennium to approximately 20,000 North Dakotans.
Senators Highlight State's CCUS Efforts
More than 800 member employees, directors, public officials, and utility representatives attended Basin Electric Cooperative's 60th annual business meeting this week in Bismarck.
The meeting's theme, "Together We Are Basin," stressed the importance of cooperation and working together.
“I have only been at Basin Electric for 60 days, but know I am working with 60 years of history – a history of success driven by the Basin Electric board, the Basin Electric team, and our members,” said Basin CEO Todd Telesz. “This is a business model where people come together to solve problems that they cannot do alone. We must continue taking on the challenges in front of us and seizing the opportunities to create value and mitigate risk for our members at the end of the line.”
The meeting's agenda included board business, a government action report, and panel discussions about company operations. The keynote speaker was Rich Karlgaard of Bismarck, who spoke on electric power markets.
“The global IT market size is expected to grow from $4 to $12 trillion from 2020 to 2030," said Karlsgaard. "Because the digital acceleration we’re seeing requires scalable, bulletproof electric power, we can expect to see a heavily electricity-consuming industry by 2030.
Senators John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer also addressed the meeting's attendees highlighting the 45Q tax credit and carbon capture and sequestration.
“Basin Electric and its member cooperatives not only provide affordable and reliable energy to our state and the surrounding region, they are also helping North Dakota to continue leading the world in deploying CCUS technology,” Hoeven said. “The expansion of carbon capture at the Great Plains Synfuels Plant is one of many firsts that our state has achieved in these efforts."
Click here to read Sen. Hoeven's comments.
Senator Cramer also praised Basin Electric's efforts in developing technology to capture carbon dioxide emissions.
“North Dakota is leading the way in the development of clean, reliable energy by investing and applying CO2 capture technologies to lignite, oil and ethanol facilities," Cramer said. "Basin Electric has been a wonderful partner in expanding access to affordable, reliable, and responsible energy, and I look forward to continuing our work together."
Funding for Broadband, Water and CCUS
The U.S. House passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act late last week, providing funding for $1.2 trillion of infrastructure projects with $550 billion in new spending over the next five years.
The massive spending bill includes:
• $413.5 billion for road, bridge, and highway projects
• $66 billion for passenger and freight rail
• $65 billion for broadband grants to states for the expansion of broadband infrastructure
• $47.2 billion for cybersecurity and flood and drought mitigation
• $18 billion for carbon dioxide capture technology and nuclear power
• 16 billion for ports and waterways
• $11 billion for highway safety programs and pipeline repair
• $2 billion in grants for rural communities
• A new apprenticeship program to allow 18-year-olds with Commercial Driver’s Licenses to drive across state lines, which will help address the shortage of truck drivers and supply chain problems.
State leaders have mixed feelings about the passage of the bill. Senator Kevin Cramer, who voted for the bill when it passed the Senate in August, praised the impacts the funding will have in North Dakota.
"The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is the right thing to do for North Dakota and our country, as it confronts the inflation and supply chain problems facing every American," Cramer said. "Unlike the Democrats' wasteful, partisan tax and spending spree, the hard infrastructure deal makes long-overdue investments in the roads and bridges every American uses and is fully paid for."
Click here to read Sen. Cramer's statement.
The bill passed ahead of the Senate budget reconciliation bill which will likely include provisions for social and "climate change" programs totaling $1.75 trillion.
Congressman Kelly Armstrong did not vote for the infrastructure bill, insisting that its passage paves the way for the reconciliation bill.
“From day one, Democrats have made it clear that the infrastructure bill and their partisan reconciliation bill are linked. One won't pass without the other," Armstrong said. "Together, they are an at least $3 trillion social engineering project that will increase taxes, cause consumer costs to explode, and usher in more government control over the lives of Americans."
Click here to read Congressman Armstrong's statement.
Tree Planting Project Wins IOGCC Award
The ND Outdoor Heritage Fund and ND Petroleum Foundation have been recognized nationally for their partnership in the Planting for the Future program, which is committed to planting trees and shrubs for conservation and habitat enhancement.
The program received the Environmental Partnership Award on Monday at the annual meeting of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) in Sante Fe.
The ND Petroleum Foundation, with a matching grant from the Outdoor Heritage Fund, worked with landowners, wildlife and conservation organizations, parks and cities, oil and gas companies, and other interested partners to develop large-scale plantings for future habitat and conservation. Since the program’s initiation in 2018, more than 134,000 trees have been planted across North Dakota.
“This award reflects North Dakota’s commitment to practicing environmental stewardship,” said IOGCC members in a joint statement. “Projects like this are a great example of what can be accomplished through public-private partnerships, and we appreciate the work of the NDPF and its industry partners, which will have a lasting impact for years to come.”
“We are proud to accept this award on behalf of all our partners who have helped make this program a success,” said Tessa Sandstrom, Executive Director for the NDPF. “Participation from individual oil and gas companies and their employees, whether through volunteering or contributions in funds, show the industry’s continued commitment to North Dakota’s environment and its outdoor heritage.”
The IOGCC is a multi-state government agency that promotes the conservation and efficient recovery of domestic oil and natural gas resources while protecting health, safety and the environment. Click here for more information about the IOGCC and the Chairman’s Stewardship Awards.
Williston to Announce Industry Awards
The Williston API Chapter will hold its Petroleum Banquet next week, an annual event that celebrates the oil and gas industry's contribution to the Williston Basin.
The highlight of the event will be presentation of industry awards, recognizing distinguished achievements of individuals and companies who have contributed to the success of the oil and gas industry in the area. Awards will be presented in three categories:
1) The Industry Innovation Award recognizes significant achievement for advancements in technology, systems, processes and their application in the oil and gas industry in the Williston Basin. Innovative technologies and processes have led not only to the development of oil and gas resources in the Williston Basin, but have provided solutions to associated challenges such as reducing gas flaring, controlling dust, reducing truck traffic, increasing recovery percentage and more.
2) The Community Service Award recognizes individuals and organizations for their commitment, contributions and service. Nominees share their time and resources to bolster pride, enable local non-profits to meet missions, strengthen boards of directors, and help solve challenges.
3) The Outstanding Achievement Award identifies an individual and organization deserving of recognition for an activity or accomplishment that can be described as an outstanding achievement in the Williston Basin. It may include an individual or company that has made a significant impact over a long period of time or it may include a single event that fundamentally changes the way something is done.
The event will be held Friday November 19, from 6:00 to 9:30 p.m. at The Well at Williston State College. Click here to register or sponsor the event.
WDEA's Wise Roads project is a past winner of the Industry Innovation Award. See article in November 22, 2019 newsletter.
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.
- Energy Transfer CEO on net-zero targets: ‘It is insanity’ -- E&E News
- Stark: Bakken still has plenty of horsepower left for Continental -- Williston Herald
- Op-Ed: Otter Tail Power exit is best for Coyote Plant -- American Experiment
- Gas prices at pump drop slightly nationwide, but still up in ND -- Williston Herald
- EIA: 2020 worst year for electricity service disruptions ever recorded -- S&P Global
- Bill would ease federal land, mineral exchanges in North Dakota -- Williston Herald
- Incident at Mandan Refinery prompts significant flaring, causes social media stir -- Bismarck Tribune
- Bismarck state lawmaker won't seek reelection, cites 'divisive, toxic times' -- Bismarck Tribune
- Hershey to acquire Dot's Pretzels; employees, ND headquarters to remain -- Fargo Forum
- Former North Dakota Secretary of State James Kusler dies at 73 -- Dickinson Press
- Manhunt ends peacefully at oil well as deputy talks down troubled individual -- Crosby Journal
- Armstrong nominates five students to U.S. military academies -- Grand Forks Herald
- Food MOU signed between Garrison Resource Center and MHA -- McLean County Independent
- New study says North Dakota is the happiest state in the US -- Dickinson Press
- Tioga will use $100,000 grant for training drone pilots -- Tioga Tribune
- DSU offers Master of Education in Elementary Education degree -- Dickinson Press
- ND school districts find new food solutions after distribution contract ends -- Grand Forks Herald
- ND Human Services announces new behavioral health training for educators -- Dickinson Press
- NDSU students will get second shot at $100 for coronavirus vaccine -- Fargo Forum
- Oil might be double today's price without OPEC production, UAW says -- Energy Now
- African energy chamber: Fossil fuels please, not wind and solar -- Master Resource
- Op-ed: Africa can’t sacrifice its future prosperity for Western climate goals -- Wall Street Journal
- The oil price rally is far from over, crude could reach $120/bbl -- OilPrice.com
- NIMBY: Rural residents push back on large solar farms, loss of ag land -- Habitat
- Solar and wind have outgrown their production tax credit allowance -- Real Clear Energy
- Crude oil is back and it isn't going anywhere, demand on the upswing -- Yahoo Finance
- U.S. natural gas in storage in early November 3% below average -- EIA
- North Dakota coal industry sees opportunity in electric vehicles -- Washington Post
Factoid of the Week
Source: US Geological Survey
Southwest Area CTE Academy - Dickinson
The Well at Williston State College
Bismarck Career Academy
November 12, 2021
WTI Crude: $80.79
Brent Crude: $82.07
Natural Gas: $4.79
North Dakota Active Oil Rigs: 33 (Up 1) 11/12/2020 -- 15 rigs