October 6, 2017
Dickinson Press Profiles Kessel
Dickinson City Administrator Shawn Kessel, the incoming president of the Western Dakota Energy Association, was profiled this week in a feature article in the Dickinson Press.
Kessel, who has been WDEA’s vice-president the past two years, is due to take the reins from current president Daryl Dukart at the association’s annual meeting November 1-2 in Dickinson.
"I have big shoes to fill," Kessel said in an interview with the newspaper. "Daryl Dukart has done an admirable job over the past couple years being the president of the association. During his term he saw a change of name and focus for the organization, saw the retirement of a long-time executive director (Rep. Vicky Steiner) and the hiring of a new one, Geoff Simon."
Click here to read the article in the Dickinson Press.
Click here to see the agenda and/or register for WDEA’s annual meeting.
EPA Deputy: Time to Re-Think Environmentalism
Contrary to media reports that the Trump Administration is gutting the Environmental Protection Agency, a senior EPA advisor said the agency is simply reexamining what environmentalism should look like.
Kenneth Wagner, EPA Senior Advisor for Regional and State Affairs, told attendees at this week’s meeting of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission that the EPA isn’t doing anything differently other than focusing on working with the states. Wagner said he’s been to 39 states in his first six months on the job, and has spoken with a lot of people who “felt like they were being oppressed.”

He said the EPA wants to work with states and advocacy groups to solve environmental problems. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt believes it is possible to be “pro-ag, pro-economy, pro-energy and pro-environment,” according to Wagner. He said Pruitt’s attitude is that problems will never be solved if the agency fails to look at issues from everyone’s perspective.
Wagner said the agency believes the best approach is “pushing decisions down to the lowest level of government that covers the affected people.” Above all, he said the top priority will be respect for the rule of law – administering federal statutes in a way that adheres to Congressional intent.
Interior Dept to Delay BLM Methane Rule

The Bureau of Land Management announced plans this week to delay a lame duck Obama administration rule to cut methane emissions on public lands. But whether the agency will actually be able to put the rule on hold remains uncertain.

BLM’s announcement was followed by a court decision overturning its previous effort to delay the methane rule. A district court in California ruled that BLM violated the Administrative Procedure Act when it postponed compliance deadlines without a public comment process.

Nonetheless, North Dakota’s two Republican members of Congress praised the BLM announcement. Senator John Hoeven said the rule “imposed unworkable and duplicative requirements on our energy industry.” Hoeven co-sponsored a resolution to repeal the methane rule earlier this year, but the measure failed by a single vote on the Senate floor.

Rep. Kevin Cramer also praised the BLM decision, and thanked the Trump Administration for “supporting North Dakota’s energy workers.” Cramer condemned the methane rule when it was initially proposed by the Obama Administration. He said the “regulations have nothing to do with protecting the environment and everything to do with shutting down the oil and gas industry in our country.”

Click here to read Cramer’s January 2016 news release.

Click here to read Sen. Hoeven’s statement on the BLM decision.

Click here to read Bismarck Tribune story.
Coal Plants Would Benefit
from Federal Policy Change

U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry said that an "all-of-the-above" energy policy means making changes in federal policy so that coal-fired power plants can continue to provide reliable energy. 

Perry asked federal regulators to develop a mechanism to compensate the nation’s coal and nuclear power plants for ensuring the reliability of the electric grid. Some plants are struggling and others have closed due to a market system that favors renewable generation over traditional 24/7 sources of power.

The retirement of coal-fired power plants has likely undermined the ability of the grid to stand up to peak-demand periods, including during severe cold winter weather such as a "Polar Vortex."

Perry asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to issue a rule to allow certain baseload plants that maintain at least 90 days of fuel supply to recover their full costs through regulated pricing.

Click here to read Secretary Perry's letter to FERC.

Click here to read Jessica Holdman's Bismarck Tribune article.
More Electricity Coming to Minot
An electric transmission line intended to meet the growing demand for electricity in the Minot area was approved this week by the ND Public Service Commission.
Northern States Power Company, doing business as Xcel Energy, currently serves its entire Minot load from the Souris Substation via two 115 KV transmission lines that were built in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Xcel plans to build a 20-mile, 230 KV electric transmission line and a new Magic City substation that will connect to an existing substation in McHenry County. 

The new line will be constructed with one of the existing 115 KV lines. Once the new line is complete, the other existing 115 KV line will be dismantled.
Estimated cost of the project is $50.5 million. Construction is expected to begin this fall and be completed by December 2018.
Click here to view the PSC’s Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law.
Lignite Energy Council Presents Distinguished Service Awards

Seven lignite mines and power plants received safety awards, eight individuals were honored for their contributions to the lignite industry and one company was recognized for its community service during the Lignite Energy Council’s awards luncheon held at the Bismarck Event Center on October 4.

Seven 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, some of whom are in the photograph above, include:
•    Jan Rudolf with Otter Tail Power Company
•    Doug Stoltz with The Falkirk Mining Company
•    Steve Tomac with Basin Electric Power Cooperative
•    Sue Black with Minnkota Power Cooperative
•    Becky Luhning with Otter Tail Power Company
•    Chris Blowers with BNI Coal
•    Chuck Kerr with Great Northern Properties

Click here for more details on the awards.
Large Truck Permitting on NDACo Agenda
WDEA representatives will participate in a workshop on permitting oversize trucks at next week’s annual meeting of the ND Association of Counties.

Entitled “A Weighty Issue: Permitting Large Trucks,” the session will be held Monday, October 9, at 1:00 pm at the Bismarck Events Center. Tim Horner, Program Director with the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute, will open the workshop with an overview of recent legislation that will allow trucks weighing up to 129,000 pounds on certain ND state highways. 

The session will also feature an explanation of WDEA’s LoadPass Permits System for regulating the movement of oversize trucks on rural roads. WDEA Executive Director Geoff Simon will explain changes that are happening as a result of a new law enacted by the 2017 Legislature, including ways it enables the association to offer permitting to non-oil producing counties. Permit system operator Janet Sanford will explain benefits to counties if they join the system. And WDEA consultant Brent Bogar will explain enhancements that are being made to the LoadPass Permits system.

Click here to see the agenda for the NDACo meeting.
Learn to Calculate Maximum
Truck Hauling Weight

The Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute, Federal Highway Administration and the North Dakota DOT are sponsoring a set of workshops to help truckers learn how to calculate hauling weight. The goal is to provide a tool to maximize hauling weights for divisible loads without violating truck weight limit laws.  

Truck criteria such as axle configuration, number of axles, axle spacing, tire width, and number of tires per axle are needed to calculate a truck’s gross vehicle weight. Attendees will go through the process of calculating a truck’s GVW using charts and formulas and then use the new North Dakota Truck Weight Online Calculator to simplify the process. 

Click here to read more.
Crackdown Planned on "Serial Sign Killers"

Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier has joined forces with Mike Aubol, Morton County Engineer, and Chad Schneider, Morton County Sign Crew Lead, to create an initiative to stop to vandalism of signs, flashing beacons and other public property.

Mike Dollinger, past McKenzie County Road Superintendent, coined the term ‘Serial Sign Killer’ to describe signs that were driven over or shot full of holes. Some had in excess of 500 rounds fired at them.

The ND Local Technical Assistance Program will release the Serial Sign Killer Program at the ND Association of County Engineers Conference in January.
It's Deer-Crash Season, North Dakota Ranks #11

From October through January, the chances of a North Dakota driver hitting a deer doubles compared to the rest of the year. 

The latest 2016 Deer-Car Crash report from State Farm Insurance shows North Dakota ranks #11 in deer-car crashes. Montana is #2.  

For the state by state chart compiled by State Farm, click here.
Governor Burgum Announces
Energy Awareness Month Contest

It's Energy Awareness Month, and in North Dakota, Governor Doug Burgum is sponsoring a contest for school students to produce short, fun and informative videos about the state’s oil and gas resources using skills and knowledge from science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics programs (STEAM).

One video from each category will be chosen for the Grand Prize of $1,500 for the class, plus the chance to attend the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in May 2018 to showcase their video.

More information is here.
Quick Connect

  • Wind energy generation on the rise -- KFYR-TV

  • New England gets $1.4 million grant for water project -- Senator Hoeven

Factoid of the Week

In 1892, the first "offshore" oil well was drilled in Grand Lake St. Mary's, Mercer County, Ohio. An estimated 200-300 wells were drilled within the shallow waters of the lake in less than 10 years.
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Oil prices and rig count

October 6, 2017

WTI Crude: $49.36
Brent Crude: $55.68
Natural Gas: $2.86

       North Dakota Active Rigs: 59 (up 1)     10/6/16 -- 33 rigs
Geoff Simon
Editor/Executive Director

Mike Kopp, Editor
Mike Kopp, Mykuhls Photography, Photographs