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Sinner seeks permanent FBI, DEA offices in Oil Patch

House candidate also wants more fed prosecutors
FARGO, N.D. -- George B. Sinner, a North Dakota Democrat running for Congress, is proposing the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration open permanent offices in the state’s Oil Patch to combat rising crime. “Because both human trafficking and drug trafficking are, in many cases, multistate, even international problems, local law enforcement doesn’t have the background, doesn’t have the expertise and in many cases doesn’t have the connections across state lines and across international lines to really address and tackle these crimes,” he said Monday. “That’s why you really have to have the federal people there.”

Man pleads guilty to 11 felonies in saltwater disposal case

BISMARCK, N.D. -- A Kalispell, Mont., man pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to 11 charges relating to the operation of a saltwater disposal well near Dickinson in an ongoing investigation that could result in more charges. Nathan Garber, 45, operated a well, into which more than 25,000 barrels of saltwater was injected, before the required state testing and even after internal testing showed the well couldn't stand up to pressure and was a threat to drinking water.

BNSF: Keystone won’t harm rail business: N.D. congressional delegation pushing pipeline construction

An executive of the largest crude oil rail carrier in the U.S. recently said the controversial Keystone XL pipeline wouldn’t diminish its business. BNSF Railway Executive Chairman Matt Rose told Fox Business Network last week that the long-debated Keystone wouldn’t take away its crude oil business because the pipeline would largely carry heavy crude south, while pipelines won’t be able to handle all the crude oil destined for east and west coasts. BNSF is a major mover of crude oil from the Bakken formation.

Employers trying to keep workers from ‘looking over the fence’

Employers trying to keep workers from ‘looking over the fence’

Recruiting, retaining skilled workers a challenge with unemployment less than 1 percent
WILLISTON, N.D. -- When Scott Knudsen started working for JMAC Resources a few years ago, the company employed 60 people and had no housing department. Today, the Williston-based civil and energy services contractor employs 450 and offers housing to about 250 workers. However, with an increase in spouses and children coming to the Oil Patch, the number in JMAC housing has doubled, the housing director said. JMAC was one of 120 employers vying for applicants at a two-day multi-industry job fair in Williston this week. North Dakota has the country’s lowest unemployment rate, at 2.4 percent in August, with Williams County (Williston is the county seat) reporting the lowest at 0.8 percent.

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North Dakota GOP lawmakers pitch 60/40 split of oil production tax revenue to address local needs

North Dakota GOP lawmakers pitch 60/40 split of oil production tax revenue to address local needs

Democrats say proposal ‘begs for closer scrutiny’
BISMARCK, N.D. – Western North Dakota counties struggling to keep pace with oil and gas development would more than double their current take of oil tax revenue under a revised formula pitched by Republican lawmakers Wednesday. “This will help them get ahead of the game instead of coming from behind,” Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner of Dickinson said.

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Conservation officers seek more dialogue with oil industry

DICKINSON, N.D. -- As the oil boom grows, communication between the energy industry and regulatory agencies will become more important than ever for conservation efforts, experts said at a regulatory issues session Wednesday.

Rail study withdrawal: NDSU economist defends his estimate, but says other methods can be used

FARGO, N.D. -- A North Dakota State University economist who prepared a rail study that was later withdrawn says he stands by the process he used and the numbers he came up with. He also tells Agweek the issue is complicated and other methods can be used to analyze it. Frayne Olson, assistant professor and crop economist in NDSU’s Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics, was asked this spring by the office of Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., to identify the amount of money that farmers in the state have lost to rail delays.

Oil execs say Bakken crude stabilization unnecessary

Officials tout current conditioning methods as adequate; watchdog group disagrees
BISMARCK, N.D. – Oil industry officials tried to convince North Dakota regulators Tuesday that current methods of removing volatile gases from Bakken crude oil before loading it onto trains are adequate, and additional measures would be a “costly, redundant process” with no extra safety benefits. An environmental watchdog group accused the industry of putting profits before public safety during Tuesday’s hearing, which was called by the North Dakota Industrial Commission as it considers whether to impose oil conditioning standards on the light, sweet crude before shipment.

In PSC race, it’s a question of experience

Incumbent touts experience, challenger says state having bad experience
FARGO, N.D. – In their first debate, Julie Fedorchak, a Republican on the state Public Service Commission, and her Democratic challenger, Tyler Axness, agreed on a lot of things. They agreed that regulators of the energy and transportation industries need “balance,” that the state needs to be involved in train safety inspections, and that federal coal policy is unfair to the industry. But Axness said Fedorchak and other commissioners, all Republicans, have failed to show leadership in the face of a growing number of accidents accompanying the oil boom, including saltwater and oil spills.

Propane terminal delivers Oil Patch fuel to region

Propane terminal delivers Oil Patch fuel to region

HANNAFORD, N.D. — Officials see a new propane terminal at Hannaford as a way to combat the shortages and high prices seen last year. The $6.5 million terminal is a project of CHS and Central Plains Ag Services and will bring propane from the Oil Patch to users in eastern North Dakota. The terminal will operate under the CHS propane terminal name. “This is a result of a two-and-a-half-year effort,” said Matt Kumm, propane marketing manager for CHS. “We looked at where to place a terminal, and Hannaford was the logical place.”

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ND Constitution prohibits oil wealth payments

FARGO – While Alaska residents will get nearly $1,900 each this year from a state oil wealth trust fund, it could lead North Dakotans to wonder why their state doesn’t do the sam

Not giving up: Opponents, advocates of Keystone XL not backing down after 6 years of delay

DICKINSON, N.D. -- One of North America's most controversial pipeline projects has been in limbo for more than a decade, and a decision from the U.S. president isn't coming, North Dakota congressmen said Friday.

McKenzie Co. seeks new jail: County currently outsources inmates to other facilities

WATFORD CITY, N.D. -- Strained by having to house inmates elsewhere and using up resources to transport them, McKenzie County is in the planning stages for a bigger jail. The county currently spends an estimated $80,000 to $100,000 a month on transporting inmates to other correctional facilities outside the county, which also pulls deputies off the roads and away from patrolling busy Oil Patch roads, County Commissioner Ron Anderson said.

$1M jury award to western N.D. ranch for oil drilling impacts could cost industry in future

$1M jury award to western N.D. ranch for oil drilling impacts could cost industry in future

BISMARCK – A jury verdict awarding $1 million to the owners of a western North Dakota hunting ranch who claimed that oil drilling turned their pristine landscape into “an industrial zone” could set a costly precedent for the state’s booming oil industry. Deadwood Canyon Ranch LLP sued Fidelity Exploration & Production Co., an affiliate of Bismarck-based MDU Resources Group Inc., in October 2010, claiming $3 million in damages for breach of contract and damages to its property as a result of two wells drilled on the ranch between Stanley and New Town in Mountrail County.

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Western N.D. legislators propose $800M 'surge' fund

Western N.D. legislators propose $800M 'surge' fund

BISMARCK -- A group of western North Dakota Republican legislators on Wednesday proposed an $800 million “surge” fund for the state and, in a preview of a proposal to come next week, said it'd be the last such bill needed if a new oil tax formula is adopted this session.

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