September 22, 2017
Gov. Burgum: North Dakota
Could Be “Transformative”
Governor Doug Burgum challenged members of the state’s EmPower Commission this week to consider ideas that could transform the global economy.
Burgum said because of its geology and geography, North Dakota has a unique opportunity for collaboration between the oil and coal industry, as well as between energy and agriculture.
“Don’t lose your energy, set your sights high, think big,” Burgum said. “We could be transformative in how we think about this thing.”

The governor noted that the state is exporting a lot of raw materials, “when we should be adding value to these commodities.” He said EmPower members could come up with ideas that have huge implications, even beyond U.S. borders.
“What we figure out here could actually become a national energy policy,” Burgum said. “And the way the US goes, that’s going to shape the future of the world.”
EmPower’s next meeting will be October 2 at the offices of Great River Energy in Bismarck. 
Pipeline Siting Law Snarled Up
Legislation enacted by the 2017 ND Legislature intended to streamline the siting process is tangled with another bill that amended the same statute.
Members of the interim Natural Resources Committee heard an explanation this week from legislative counsel describing the conflict between HB 1144 and the pipeline bill, SB 2286.
HB 1144 was specifically crafted to separate electric transmission siting laws from oil and gas pipeline siting provisions, so electric industry lobbyists who worked on the bill are frustrated by a proposal by legislative staff to “harmonize” the two bills. The committee approved a motion to draft legislation to clear up the confusion in the 2019 Legislature.

In the meantime, lobbyists for the oil and gas industry expect the Public Service Commission will apply SB 2286 the way it was intended. The bill essentially consolidated the PSC’s siting hearings with local zoning hearings, so it will be important for local leaders to engage in the PSC siting process.
Education Funding, “An Interesting Conundrum”
Local government leaders objected to a bill to cap property taxes during the 2017 legislative session, arguing that a percentage cap will in actuality become a minimum increase. That argument was borne out in testimony this week before the interim Education Funding Committee.
Several school superintendents and business managers told committee members their districts were compelled to increase property taxes 12 percent, the maximum amount allowed each year under state law.
“It’s an interesting conundrum,” said Aimee Copas, Executive Director of the ND Council of Educational Leaders, referring to a provision in the foundation aid funding formula that automatically deducts from a district’s state aid, assuming the district increased local taxes. Educational leaders said if they don’t raise taxes, they cannot maintain a stable funding level.
Legislators heard a number of other funding quirks created by the 12% cap, most notably from schools such as the Ray District that have seen substantial increases in property valuation. Superintendent Ben Schafer said the district saw a 38% increase in valuation in a single year, so mill levies dropped substantially. Despite that, local taxes have gone up. Shafer described an example of one home’s property taxes that increased from $315 in 2007, to $1,016 today.
The committee will continue its work through the interim, seeking ways to improve equity, while preserving the adequacy of funding.
Legislature to Consider Veto Lawsuit
ND legislative leaders will meet in a closed door session next week to decide whether to proceed with a lawsuit against Gov. Doug Burgum over vetoes he issued after the 2017 legislative session concluded.
Legislative Management will go into executive session at its September 28 meeting in Bismarck, invoking the attorney-client privilege exception to the state’s open meeting law. When the committee met in June, members voted to proceed with the lawsuit, so next week’s meeting will likely determine exactly what will be litigated. Legislators are upset with selective deletions in the governor’s vetoes, which they argue changed the intent of the legislation.
House Majority Leader Al Carlson, R-Fargo, said if the vetoes go unchallenged, it would open the door for the governor to change legislative intent by deleting part of a sentence.

“We’re the only ones that can pass laws,” Carlson said. “We’re the only ones that can spend money.”

If filed, the lawsuit will likely go directly to the North Dakota Supreme Court.
Western ND Fuels Help Increase
Sales and Use Tax Collections

Oil extraction and coal mining helped boost quarterly sales and use tax collections. North Dakota State Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger reported this week that the mining and oil extraction sector of the state's economy increased nearly 70% ($195.9 million). 

  • Sioux County – Increase of 141.92 percent
  • Dunn County – Increase of 59.35 percent
  • Benson County – Increase of 58.67 percent
  • Foster County – Increase of 40.46 percent
  • Mountrail County – Increase of 34.43 percent

Williams County taxable sales and purchases increased 31.9% . McKenzie also saw an increase in collections of 27.94%.

Other counties that saw an increase include Mercer, which was up nearly 17 percent with nearly $20,700,000 and McLean, which had a nearly 15 percent increase to more than $19,100,000.

See the report here.
PSC Settles with Dakota Access 

A year ago, the builder of the Dakota Access Pipeline rerouted the pipeline when cultural artifacts were found on the route. The company followed protocol to alert the State Historic Preservation Office, but neglected to notify the Public Service Commission.

After an investigation and discussion, the Public Service Commission (PSC) directed Dakota Access to develop, publish and distribute industry guidelines on what to do when a company comes across unanticipated discoveries.

The PSC announcement is here.
Discussion Continues on Plans for Highway 85

Among the budget and policy debates in Washington is the proposed expansion of Highway 85 and the replacement of the Long X bridge called the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway (TRE). The North Dakota Highway 85 effort is part of the Ports-to-Plains initiative, a north-south route across the United States that roughly follows Highway 85.

Cal Klewin of the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway Association said the Ports-to-Plains Alliance is working on opportunities to obtain funding for corridor projects. He said the group is working with staff from the House Transportation and Senate Environment and Public Works Committees. They recommend members of the association write to the Federal Highway Administration urging inclusion in a plan for a major surface transportation project.

The goal is to present to the Federal Highway Administration projects that are ready to go, should Congress provide the funding. One of those projects includes four-laning the 62 miles from Watford City to I-94, and replacing the Long X Bridge.

Klewin will report on the progress at the Western Dakota Energy Association annual meeting in November.
McKenzie County has a New Road Department leader 

Tommy Glover was recently selected as the new McKenzie County Road & Bridge Superintendent.

Curt Glasoe, North Dakota Local Technical Assistance Program said Glover is eager to learn and help the county grow. "His past efforts have set a nice foundation for his ability to jump in and help the county. He has worked in construction for about 50 years, first as a worker of all sorts, and then with his own construction company. His company focused on road, shopping center, subdivision and site development projects." 

Glover moved from Georgia to North Dakota with his wife seven years ago to work for a pipeline company. Two years ago, he started working for the McKenzie County road crew.

Tommy can be reached at: 701-444-2371 (office) 701-580-1666 (mobile) or by email
WDEA Exec Hosts Energy Matters
WDEA Executive Director Geoff Simon stepped in to guest host the radio show Energy Matters this week.
Simon interviewed several energy industry leaders during the two-hour program, which is broadcast live from 3:00-to-5:00 pm on KFYR and KLTC Radio, and re-broadcast Saturdays on WZFG and KTGO.
Guests in the 3:00 pm hour included Perrie Schafer, president of Environmental Services Inc., who is a board member of the Lignite Energy Council; Katie Haarsager, Community Relations Advisor with Enbridge; and Justin Dever, Co-Deputy Commissioner, ND Department of Commerce.
Guests in the 4:00 hour were Rob Lindberg from Bakken Backers; Dr. Debora Dragseth from Dickinson State University; Public Service Commissioner Brian Kroshus; and Senator Rich Wardner from Dickinson.
Click here to download or listen to an MP3 file of the 3:00 pm hour.
Click here to download or listen to an MP3 file of the 4:00 pm hour. 
Lodging Deadline Approaching
for WDEA Annual Meeting
A discounted lodging rate for this year’s annual meeting of the Western Dakota Energy Association expires next week.
The Ramada Grand Dakota Lodge in Dickinson is offering a nightly rate of just $69.00 for meeting attendees. To obtain the special rate, guests should contact the motel directly at 701-483-5600 or 1-800-422-0949. Meeting code: WDEA. The discounted rate expires Friday, September 29. 
The annual meeting will be held November 1-2 at the Ramada in Dickinson. It begins with an opening social and exhibits, featuring remarks by special guest Lt. Governor Brent Sanford.

Sponsor/exhibit opportunities are available. Click here for the form.

Online registration is now open.

Click here to see the agenda.
Quick Reminder: Drivers License Offices Closed

All North Dakota Drivers License Offices will be closed Tues-Thurs, Sept 26-28. Only the Drivers License Office at State Capitol will be open Tuesday morning.

Details are here.
 Quick Connect

  • World energy consumption forecast to rise 28% -- EIA

  • Excel Energy seeks to divide Minnesota and North Dakota -- E&E News
Factoid of the Week

Only 10% of energy in an incandescent light bulb is used to create light. Ninety percent of a conventional light bulb’s energy creates heat. Refrigerators in the U.S. consume about the same energy as 25 large power plants produce each year.

Source: Fact Retriever
Upcoming Events
September 26-28
Grand Forks

September 26
Grand Forks

September 28-30

October 4-5
Raymond Family Community Center - Williston

October 8-10

October 18-19, 2017
Rapid City, SD

October 24, 25, 26
Bowman, Washburn, Grafton

November 1-2
Oil prices and rig count

September 22, 2017

WTI Crude: $50.70
Brent Crude: $56.85
Natural Gas: $2.97

       North Dakota Active Rigs: 58 (up 2)      9/22/16 -- 33 rigs
Geoff Simon
Editor/Executive Director

Mike Kopp, Editor
Mike Kopp, Mykuhls Photography, Photographs