Local Government Leaders Oppose Property Tax Caps

A parade of witnesses representing North Dakota schools, cities, counties and townships testified this week against a bill that would impose an annual three percent cap on local property tax increases.

Opponents said HB 1361 takes away the ability of schools and local government to respond to extraordinary circumstances and local emergencies. Others said the bill could produce unintended results.  For example, one witness said units of government may consider it prudent to take the maximum allowable increase as a hedge against future events.

Several western North Dakota officials opposed the bill including Dickinson Mayor Scott Decker, Alexander School Superintendent Leslie Bieber, as well as Washburn School Superintendent Brad Rinas, who serves on WDEA’s Executive Committee.

 --Geoff Simon

ND Legislators Look for Improved Emergency Communications

Two separate bills are moving through the ND Legislature that would begin the establishment of a Statewide Interoperability Radio Network (SIRN).

One of the measures, HB 1178 sponsored by Rep. Todd Porter, R-Mandan, would increase 911 fees on landline and cellular telephones to help pay local government costs of the network. 

Porter said the state has an unfortunate history of incidents in which emergency responders such as police, firemen and EMTs are unable to talk to each other.

Click here to listen to Rep. Porter’s comments. 

A companion bill intended to help pay for the state’s share of the network, SB 2204,  is awaiting action in the House.

--Geoff Simon

Committee Hears Truck Permit Bill, Amendment Proposed

Legislation aimed at improving the operation of WDEA’s Uniform Truck Permit system was discussed this week by the Senate Transportation Committee. HB 1320 previously passed the House on a 90-0 vote.

An amendment was suggested by the North Dakota Petroleum Council that would remove a provision in the bill directing the ND Department of Transportation to use the most direct routing when frost laws are in effect. NDPC shared concerns that DOT has limited the distance oil industry truckers can travel on state highways, instead routing trucks onto county and township roads, adding many miles to a trip.

Rather than addressing the issue through legislation, DOT developed guidelines for its district engineers to move heavy trucks more efficiently on state highways.  Click here to read the list of guidelines.

Click here to learn more about other provisions in HB 1320

-Geoff Simon

Large Truck Network Moves One Step Closer to Reality

Legislation aimed at making North Dakota producers more competitive moved closer to becoming state law this week.

The Senate Transportation Committee approved HB 1255, which would allow trucks weighing up to 129,000 pounds on select state highways. If enacted, the law would apply to highways 2, 83 and 85, as well as Hwy 52 from Minot to the Canadian Border. Interstates 29 and 94 would be included, pending enactment of federal legislation.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Dan Ruby, R-Minot, said larger trucks would reduce costs for shipping North Dakota commodities, and would reduce the number of trucks on the road.  Ruby said the legislation would begin to “harmonize” North Dakota roads with those of Montana, South Dakota and neighboring Canadian provinces, which already allow the heavier trucks.

Click here to listen to Rep. Ruby’s comments. 

Click here to read the North Dakota Truck Harmonization Study.

--Geoff Simon
Bill to Increase Littering Fines Advances in Senate

The ND Senate Transportation Committee unanimously approved a bill today that would increase the fine for littering on state highways from $100 to $500.

HB 1311 introduced by Rep. Denton Zubke, R-Watford City, earlier passed the House by a 55-37 margin.

Cal Klewin, Executive Director of the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway, supported the bill.  He said it is one result of a clean-up campaign on Highway 85 last spring. 

Click here to listen to Klewin’s explanation.  

-Geoff Simon

Targa Badlands proposes conversion of North Dakota crude oil gathering pipeline

Targa Badlands, LLC recently submitted a proposal to The North Dakota Public Service Commission (PSC) to convert its existing crude oil gathering pipeline in McKenzie County, North Dakota into a transmission line.

Dakota Access Pipeline races to start moving Bakken crude

Oil will likely flow through the Dakota Access Pipeline under Lake Oahe in North Dakota early next week.

Barring any more twists or turns — and there have been plenty in the last seven months of this project — the contentious 470,000 b/d crude oil pipeline will start commercial service very soon thereafter. It will open up a major new route for Bakken and Three Forks production to flow to Illinois and onto the Texas Gulf Coast.

Click here to read the Platts Global story

Whiting is confident of continued production growth in the Bakken

Whiting Petroleum's Jim Volker believes that $50 bbl is a sufficient price to increase production. He says thanks to different technical advancements, each well is producing more than earlier predicted.  The company see continued growth, thanks to technology through 2017 and 2018.

Click on image to see full size
Registration open for the Lignite Energy Council’s Education Seminar

Energy, Economics and Environment. The four-day seminar gives elementary, middle and high school teachers in North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota, Montana and Iowa a first-hand look at North Dakota’s fifth largest industry, lignite mining and related energy production. The seminar will be held June 12-15, 2017, at Bismarck State College’s National Energy Center of Excellence, Bismarck, N.D.

Quick Connect

Industry cheered Trump administration action to repeal Obama era standards for hydraulic fracturing used in crude oil drilling on federal land. Bismarck Tribune

Debate continues on a Little Missouri River bridge north of Medora. Dickinson Press

Confidence continues for Williston Airport despite state budget cuts. Williston Herald

The Williston City Commission adopted plans to guide city growth. Williston Herald city plan story

Next Era Energy Resources has proposed a wind farm in Burke County. Crosby Journal story

Five Halliburton tools worth an estimated $42,000 dollars were donated to WSC’s Petroleum Department.  WSC story

Upcoming Events

March 28-29, 2017
North Dakota Asphalt Conference
Bismarck  Ramada Hotel

March 28, 2017 
 March 30, 2017
Planning and Zoning workshops

March 31, 2017
12:00 noon
McKenzie County Law Enforcement Center Ribbon Cutting & Tours  
McKenzie County Law Enforcement Center 

March 31, 2017
Truck Weight Education Class
Jamestown ND

April 6, 2017
Truck Weight Education Class
  Minot ND 

May 2-4, 2017 
Williston Basin Petroleum Conference Regina, SK, Canada

July 17-19, 2017
The Bakken Conference and Expo
Bismarck Event Center

Oil prices and rig count
March 17, 2017

    WTI Crude: $48.80
                                                   Brent Crude: $51.79
                                                 Natural Gas: $2.94

              North Dakota  Active Drills: 47 (up 2)        3/17/16 -- 31 rigs

Geoff Simon
Editor/Executive Director

Mike Kopp, Editor
Mike Kopp, Mykuhls Photography, Photographs
Western Dakota Energy Association