The Forum of Fargo-Moorehead
The Fargo School Board should endorse a principal’s ruling that a proposed yearbook photograph of a gun-toting student is inappropriate for the publication. Fargo North High School Principal Andy Dahlen’s...
The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead A sensible proposal to hire “community experts” in North Dakota public schools to help ease a teacher shortage will face obstacles. If implemented, school districts would...
Like dust in a prairie wind, criticism of New York Times articles on North Dakota’s oil regulation is weightless and ephemeral. The critics blame the messenger rather than concede the legitimate substance of the message. They whine about “one-sided reporting” rather than acknowledge that the governor himself declined an interview with the Times’ reporter. They attempt to deflect facts and research by focusing on a trivial reporting error about crawfish. They make a painfully forced linkage of unprecedented big-time industrial oil development with the state’s traditional agrarian ethic.
Last week during the run up to this week’s U.S. Senate vote on the Keystone XL pipeline, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., took to the floor with words that expressed sentiments that should resonate with all Americans of good will, no matter their political persuasion. Heitkamp, who is among the handful of Senate Democrats who support the long-delayed pipeline, urged her colleagues, and by extension all partisans, to quit picking fights with each other merely for the sake of fighting.
Truck violations of all kinds have gone from bad to worse in North Dakota’s Bakken oil boom country. A road safety and law enforcement problem that was recognized as serious a couple of years ago — and pretty much denied by the industry — has escalated to the point where violators seem even more cavalier about fines and sanctions than they were when their driving behavior was first exposed. To be sure, not all drivers and trucking companies are guilty of routinely breaking the law.
North Dakota’s history informs the perception that railroads have never been good neighbors. That status goes back to before statehood to James Hill’s Great Northern Railway, and continues to this day with Warren Buffett’s BNSF Railway.
Even taking into account the poll’s 5 percent margin of error, the numbers are startling but not surprising. As revenues from oil, gas and related energy development have piled up in several state funds and lockboxes, North Dakotans have ramped up talk about an Alaska-style annual dividend for qualifying residents. The sentiment is growing, and legislators should take it seriously when they go back to work in January. The hurdle to such a payment is a provision in the state constitution that has been interpreted to bar such payments to individuals.
Maybe Woody Allen should coach the hapless Minnesota Vikings. At least the forlorn fans, bruised and bleeding, might have a few good laughs. The director and former comedian famously once said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” Showing up on time seems to be too much for the 2-4 Vikings this season. After last Sunday’s drubbing by the Detroit Lions, coach Mike Zimmer was muttering about his team’s lack of discipline, and the fact he had to fine more players than usual for showing up late to meetings or treatments.
The two state governors closest to problems associated with the transport of oil by rail seem to be in harmony. Minnesota’s Mark Dayton and North Dakota’s Jack Dalrymple sang from the same songbook last week about putting technology to work to remove volatile gases from Bakken crude oil before it’s pumped into railroad tank cars. At the same time, the oil industry was singing a different song.
Theodore Roosevelt had bad eyes, but they were good enough to see the vistas of North Dakota’s Badlands through crystal clear air when he came to the area in the 1880s. He would be hard-pressed today to find such pristine air quality in the national park that bears his name. Several ongoing studies confirm the degradation. The latest by Colorado State University and the National Park Service found significant spikes in airborne pollutants. A review of the studies recently was written by Nick Lund, manager of the landscape conservation program of the National Parks Conservation Association.