Hooked on winter
The groundhog said six more weeks of winter, and anglers  this week near Williston are taking advantage of winter.

What are your thoughts about the newsletter format?  The goal is to make it a quicker read for you.  If you see a story you want to read, click the link and the full story opens.

Email your thoughts to Executive Director Geoff Simon

House Committee Hears Hub City and Oil Impact Grant Bill

The North Dakota House Finance and Taxation Committee heard this week from 15 proponents of legislation that would adjust the Hub City funding formula and provide funds to fulfill previous commitments for grants to aid communities impacted by oil and gas development.

The parade of witnesses supporting HB 1366 included the mayors of the three Hub Cities – Williston, Dickinson and Minot – as well as mayors from Stanley and New Town. Other witnesses represented schools, airports and long-term care facilities in the Bakken region. 

The committee has not yet acted on the bill, but must do so Monday, February 6, which is the deadline for bills with a fiscal impact to be reported to the Appropriations Committee. 

See this article from last week’s newsletter for additional details about the legislation.

--Geoff Simon

House Committee Approves WDEA Truck Permit Bill

By a unanimous 12-0 vote, the North Dakota Legislature’s House Transportation Committee today gave a Do Pass recommendation to House Bill 1320 as amended. The bill is a positive step to provide uniformity and efficiency in the movement of oversize vehicles in the Bakken region, and potentially, throughout the state of North Dakota.

--Geoff Simon

Legislation Would Require Trucks to Have Mudflaps, Use Tarps to Cover Loads

A bill being considered in the North Dakota Senate would require heavy trucks to install mud flaps and to cover loads with a tarp if one is installed on the truck.

Senator Brad Bekkedahl said he introduced Senate Bill 2341 in response to constituent complaints about debris from trucks causing damage to their vehicles.  Bekkedahl said he learned other states require trucks to have mud flaps, but North Dakota law currently does not.

He said his legislation would also require the use of a tarp if one is available.  Click here to listen to Sen. Bekkedahl’s explanation.

--Geoff Simon

County Tax Appeal Legislation in Jeopardy

Legislation that would allow counties to appeal a decision of the State Board of Equalization received a “Do Not Pass” recommendation this week.  Its fate will be determined on the House floor next week.

WDEA supports HB 1368 because of instances in which members believe the state board made an unwarranted reduction in the valuation of a large industrial facility. If those properties are undervalued, it means they’re not paying their fair share of taxes, which are then shifted to other property owners in the county.

The bill carries a “sunset clause” after it was re-referred to the House Finance and Taxation Committee. The amendment means the county appeal right would exist only through June 30, 2019.  Committee members voted 9-to-5 to support a Do Not Pass recommendation.

--Geoff Simon

Main Street Tioga
Economists optimistic about Midwest but less certain about North Dakota

Looking ahead six months, economic optimism, as captured by the January business confidence index, rose to 69.5 from 63.3 in December. “This is the highest confidence reading we have recorded in six years,” said Ernie Goss director of Creighton University’s Economic Forecasting Group.

After moving above growth neutral for December, North Dakota’s overall, or Business Conditions Index, slipped below the threshold for January. The index fell to 49.7 from 51.0 in December. 


Less optimism among bankers in agriculture and oil states.  Almost one-third of bank CEOs indicated that soaring loan defaults represented the greatest Rural Main Street banking threat for 2017. Low farm prices are black cloud on economic horizon.

More on the Midwest banker survey by Creighton University is here
For the second year in a row, North Dakota ag prices came down moderately in all five regions in the state, according to an annual index produced by an organization of agricultural land appraisers.

Pipeline investors shift from Sandpiper to DAPL

Marathon Petroleum Corp. (MPC) and Enbridge Energy Partners LP (EEP) plan to end their transportation services and joint venture (JV) agreements for the Sandpiper Pipeline Project, a proposed 612-mile, $2.6 billion oil pipeline that would transport light crude oil from the Bakken Shale and Western Canada to Wisconsin, the two companies said.

Marathon and Enbridge also said they had agreed to form a JV to invest in the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and the Energy Transfer Crude Oil Pipeline (ETCO), collectively referred to as the Bakken Pipeline system.

Trump energy regs will simplify Fort Berthold Oil production

President Donald Trump energy philosophy and regulations changes could mean more oil extraction on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation.  Mandan Hidatsa Arikara Nation looks for easier energy development on tribal land. 

The Indian affairs committees in the House and Senate are planning to re-introduce legislation this year that would streamline Bureau of Indian Affairs approval processes for tribal energy resource agreements, said Senator John Hoeven, a Republican from North Dakota and the new chair of the Senate Indian affairs committee.

GOP lawmakers move to block BLM Methane rule and Stream Protection Rule

BLM Methane Rule -- Republican lawmakers in Washington are calling on state leaders and the energy industry to craft alternative methane rules for oil and gas operations on public lands.

Democrats are moving to support the BLM rule. The House will vote by the end of the week on  H.J. Res. 36, which would scrap the rule and pre-empt the agency from promulgating similar methane-control proposals in the future.  House Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) outlined why the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement's Stream Protection Rule and the Bureau of Land Management's methane venting and flaring rule were in line for Congressional Review Act scrutiny next week. The law allows Congress to "disapprove" a regulation."These are probably the most egregious of all the rules that we can think of," Bishop said on a call with reporters today.

Stream Protection Rule -- North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp praised the bipartisan resolution to undo the Stream Protection Rule.  In a news release, Heitkamp said, North Dakota already leads the nation in reclamation, and this one-size-fits-all rule would have done real harm. 

Heitkamp news release on Stream Protection Rule is here

Click here to read the Stream Protection story from The Hill

Click here to read The Washington Examiner story on Stream Protection Rule

Oldest large lignite-based plant among the state’s cleanest

The Leland Olds Station can trace its roots back to the early 1960s when rural America was starving for electricity.

Click here to read the story about the Leland Olds plant

Something is blowing in an oil state's energy productio n
A survey by the Pew Research Center found that while opinions on fracking, coal mining, and offshore drilling fall strongly along party lines, expanding solar and wind power  enjoys at least 75 percent support , even among self-identified conservatives.
Quick connect
Other news of interest

  • RockPile Energy featured in National Publication for its young, but expansive role in U.S. oil industry. Read the RockPile Story here

  • The National Transportation Safety Board will meet Feb. 7 to determine the probable cause of the derailment of a BNSF train carrying crude oil in Casselton, N.D., on Dec. 30, 2013. The train struck a railcar filled with grain that had derailed from another BNSF train and blocked the track being used by the crude oil train; as a result, the two head-end locomotives and 21 cars of the crude oil train derailedRead the KFYR-TV story here

  • North Dakota's coal industry wants to redirect money it contributes to a fund for county and school construction projects to develop clean coal technology"The legislative path forward has seen little opposition, though it is undergoing some administrative hurdles."
    Read the Bismarck Tribune story here

  • Crews clean up second oil spill in Dunn County. The second spill, near Twin Buttes is relatively small.  Prairie Business news story is here
  • The cost of blocking oil and gas infrastructure. The continued blocking of oil and natural gas pipeline project proposals and the loss of other energy generation options could result in an electricity shortfall of 31 percent in the United States by 2030.
    Read the full Consumer Energy story here

Upcoming Events

February 4, 2017

February 9, 2017
Dickinson Chamber of Commerce
State of the City Luncheon

February 18, 2017
February 20, 21, 2017
5th Annual Reclamation Conference
Dickinson, ND

March 7, 2017
North Dakota Petroleum Council Legislative Social
  BSC NECE, Bismarck

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

Oil prices and rig count
February 3, 2017

WTI Crude: $53.80
                                                   Brent Crude: $55.76
                                                 Natural Gas: $3.06

              North Dakota  Active Drills: 40 (Up 2)        2/3/16 -- 44 rigs

Geoff Simon
Editor/Executive Director

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