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BISMARCK — The chairwoman of the state's anti-human trafficking task force says victim service programs could be in jeopardy under a funding cut recommended Tuesday, March 28, by a legislative committee. The House Appropriations Committee recommended reducing funding for human trafficking victim services to $250,000 for 2017-19, half of what the Senate approved and one-fourth the level requested by the Attorney General's Office. Committee members cited budget challenges as the need to cut general fund spending.
BISMARCK—Senate lawmakers voted Monday, March 27, to keep a provision that would charge the oil industry a slightly higher tax if the price of oil returns to $90 a barrel, rejecting a proposal approved by the House. In 2015, legislators reduced the tax charged on oil production from 11½ percent to 10 percent. Lawmakers included a so-called high-price trigger that would increase the tax to 11 percent if the price of West Texas Intermediate oil reached $90 a barrel for three consecutive months.
MORTON COUNTY, N.D.—The Dakota Access Pipeline under Lake Oahe now contains oil as the developer prepares to place the pipeline into service, the company said Monday, March 27. In a weekly construction status update filed in U.S. District Court, a Dakota Access LLC attorney wrote that the company is commissioning the full pipeline before it will be placed into service. The 1,172-mile pipeline has the ability to carry 470,000 barrels of Bakken crude each day to a transportation hub in Patoka, Ill.
BISMARCK—Senate lawmakers voted 31-14 Monday, March 27, to raise the threshold for reporting oil spills, a proposal the oil industry supported but many landowners opposed. Under House Bill 1151, the oil industry will no longer have to report spills of oil, produced water or natural gas liquids that are less than 10 barrels, or 420 gallons, if the spills stay on the well site or facility location.
BISMARCK — Environmental regulators in North Dakota worry that proposed cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency's budget could have major local impacts. The state Department of Health relies on federal grants from the EPA to help fund many programs in the Environmental Health Section, such as those that protect the air and water. President Donald Trump proposes reducing the EPA's budget by 31 percent, but few details about the cuts are available.
MANDAN, N.D. — Actress Shailene Woodley has agreed to plead guilty to disorderly conduct and serve one year of unsupervised probation for her involvement with Dakota Access Pipeline protests last October. Woodley signed a plea agreement filed Friday, March 24, that states she would plead guilty to the Class B misdemeanor. The charge was amended from an earlier charge of criminal trespass. A misdemeanor charge of engaging in a riot will be dismissed under terms of the agreement.
TransCanada Corp. said on Friday, March 24, the U.S. Department of State issued a presidential permit for the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline linking Canadian oil sands to U.S. refiners, a project blocked by former President Barack Obama. President Donald Trump signed an executive order to advance the project soon after taking office in January, saying it would create thousands of jobs. Obama had said the pipeline would do nothing to reduce fuel prices for U.S. motorists and would contribute emissions linked to global warming.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump announced Friday the United States has issued a presidential permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline, but environmental groups and Native American tribes vowed to fight the project in the courts and on the land. "Resistance spirit camps" are expected to be erected along the Keystone XL route similar to the camps established by Dakota Access Pipeline opponents in North Dakota, said Dallas Goldtooth, an organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network.
BELFIELD, N.D.—An oil pipeline spill that contaminated a tributary of the Little Missouri River last December is now estimated to be three times larger than originally thought, making it one of the most significant pipeline spills in North Dakota history. Belle Fourche Pipeline Co. reports about 12,615 barrels, or 529,830 gallons, of oil spilled as a result of a pipeline leak the company now believes started on Dec. 1 and was discovered by a landowner on Dec. 5, said spokeswoman Wendy Owen.
WILLISTON, N.D. — Human resources manager Judy Billehus had goosebumps as job-seekers filled a Williston job fair Wednesday, March 22. "I knew it was going to be hopping," said Billehus, who was recruiting workers to fill oilfield and construction-related jobs for JMAC Resources. Compared to the past two major Williston job fairs, Billehus said more excitement was in the air as the oil industry rebounds from the recent slowdown.