Amy Dalrymple is a Forum News Service reporter stationed in the Oil Patch. She can be reached at email@example.com or (701) 580-6890.
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WILLISTON, N.D. — Severe winter weather caused North Dakota oil production to drop 9 percent in December, the largest monthly decline in state history, the Department of Mineral Resources said Wednesday, Feb. 15. The state produced an average of 942,455 barrels of oil in December, down more than 92,000 barrels per day since November, according to preliminary figures. “This is the largest drop we’ve ever had,” Director Lynn Helms said.
BISMARCK — A bill to require cultural competency training for North Dakota legislators has failed in the state Senate. Senate Bill 2337, which prompted passionate testimony from Native Americans and members of other minority groups, would have required legislators to participate in at least four hours of training to aid legislators in working with diverse populations, including Native Americans. The proposed training, which would have been provided by volunteers at no cost to the state, would occur during orientation for legislators at the beginning of each session.
BISMARCK — A bill to provide funding for western North Dakota communities failed in the state House Tuesday, Feb. 14, but lawmakers said they plan to address funding for the oil-impacted areas in the second half of the legislative session. House Bill 1366, which relates to the way oil tax revenue is distributed to cities, counties and schools in the Bakken, failed with a 37-54 vote.
BISMARCK — At least five journalists have been charged with engaging in a riot while covering Dakota Access Pipeline protests, an offense that would carry a stiffer penalty under a proposal before the North Dakota Legislature. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Monday, Feb. 13, on House Bill 1426, which would make engaging in a riot a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a $3,000 fine. Currently the offense is a Class B misdemeanor with a penalty of up to 30 days in jail and/or a $500 fine.
CANNON BALL, N.D. — Construction has resumed on the Dakota Access Pipeline as opponents continue trying to fight the project in court. Kelcy Warren, CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, said Thursday Feb. 9, he expects the pipeline will be complete and transporting oil by early April. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officially issued an easement on Wednesday for the Lake Oahe crossing north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
BISMARCK — North Dakota House lawmakers advanced four bills Monday, Feb. 6, aimed to give law enforcement more tools for responding to Dakota Access Pipeline protests. The package of bills, which some opponents criticized as "knee-jerk legislation," would double the penalties for some riot offenses and create a new felony offense for individuals who cause economic harm while committing a misdemeanor. The legislation, which still needs to be considered by the state Senate, also would make it a misdemeanor to wear a mask while committing a crime.
BISMARCK — Western North Dakota cities took on high levels of debt to keep up during the rapid growth years of the oil boom. Now mayors in the Bakken want to keep the same level of state oil tax revenue flowing back to their cities so they can keep up with debt payments. But changes to the way funding would go to "hub cities" — communities most affected by oil impacts — mean those funding levels could be cut short.
WASHINGTON — Approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline easement to cross Lake Oahe is “imminent,” members of North Dakota’s Congressional delegation said Tuesday, Jan. 31. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said Acting Secretary of the Army Robert Speer informed him Tuesday he has directed to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to proceed with the easement needed to complete the pipeline. Hoeven released the statement after meeting with Speer and Vice President Mike Pence.
BISMARCK — A complaint against Dakota Access Pipeline alleging violations of the North Dakota permit will proceed to a hearing, the state's Public Service Commission said Tuesday, Jan. 31. Commissioners unanimously denied a motion from the company to dismiss a complaint related to the company's failure to immediately notify regulators after cultural artifacts were found in the pipeline route in Morton County.
BISMARCK - Balancing North Dakota's budget could lead to less oversight of oil and gas development and fewer inspections of gathering pipelines at the same time that oil activity is expected to be on the upswing. Lynn Helms, the state's top oil regulator, said inspections of well sites and facilities would be reduced by half in 2017-19 if the Department of Mineral Resources budget is cut at the levels proposed by former Gov. Jack Dalrymple or Gov. Doug Burgum.