Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A group of lawmakers from West Virginia met with North Dakota legislators in Bismarck – to learn more about North Dakota’s “Legacy Fund.”

The fund – as proposed by the Legislature and approved by the voters – sets aside 30 percent of oil and gas tax collections in a permanent fund – which can’t be touched until at least 2017.

'After-the-fact' pipeline hearing scheduled

Aug 21, 2013

Under normal circumstances, the Public Service Commission holds hearings on proposed projects – like natural gas pipelines.

But the Commission will be holding a siting hearing “after the fact.”

In 2008, Hiland Operating, LLC built a 6.5 mile natural gas line in Divide and Burke Counties. It did so without a permit.

"They thought it was a gathering line," said Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak. "Under the definition, it does not require a permit. But it's clearly a transmission line."

State Mineral Resources director Lynn Helms says he’s convinced the federal Bureau of Land Management will be adopting new rules on hydraulic fracturing.

Helms says while most of the rules duplicate what North Dakota has already adopted – there are some others that could slow down the federal permitting process.

"It's going to impact development on the National Grasslands and on the Ft. Berthold reservation," Helms said. "It's going to create additional workload and paperwork."

Helms says BLM has also lost a number of staffers.

Oil production a record, but less than forecast

Aug 16, 2013

"We've reached our cruising altitude. So it's safe to get up and walk around, but you really should stay in your seat with your seat belt fastened, 'cause there will be turbulence."

That’s how state mineral resources director Lynn Helms describes the current activity in the Bakken.

In his monthly “Director’s Cut” report, Helms says June oil production set a new all time high at 821,415 barrels a day. However, that was below his forecast. Helms says the reason: load restrictions on the roadways were in place until mid-June.

The president and CEO of Minnkota Power Cooperative says the use of what’s called “Cy-Clean” at the Milton R. Young power plant near Center has helped reduce some of the plant’s emissions – especially in terms of mercury.

CyClean technology uses combustion additives that are added to the lignite coal before it’s burned in the boiler.

Minnkota CEO Mac McLennan says so far, the results are promising.

New power line delayed slightly

Aug 9, 2013

The president and CEO of Grand Forks-based Minnkota Power Cooperative says he’s pleased with the progress of building a new 270 mile high voltage power line – running from the Milton R. Young power station near Center to Grand Forks.

Mac McLennan says that’s despite weather conditions earlier this year.

"Our original proposal was to finish by the end of 2013," said McLennan. "We are now Feburary of 2014."

McLennan says a long winter and a late spring, along with highway weight restrictions, caused the delay.

Wind farm hearing delayed

Aug 8, 2013

A hearing on a proposed wind farm in Adams County has been delayed a month.

The 150 megawatt Thunder Spirit wind farm would be located northeast of Hettinger. The Public Service Commission had originally scheduled a hearing this Friday. But the company missed last Friday’s deadline to submit its turbine location map. And the Adams County Commission is working on a wind farm ordinance.

Commissioners say postponing the hearing is the right thing to do.

The new federal Secretary of the Interior says it’s very important that industry, the federal government and the state government work together to make sure energy development in North Dakota is done well – and done with a sensitivity to environmental concerns.

Sally Jewell toured western North Dakota oil fields, as well as the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Oil patch activity in 'efficiency mode'

Aug 2, 2013

North Dakota's mineral resources director says activity in the oil patch has reached what he’s calling an “efficiency mode.”

“We have really settled in to a high rate of drilling in the basin," Lynn Helms told the Legislature's interim Government Finance Committee. "But it's no longer escalating at the straight upward trend. I think that's good news for the infrastructure of western North Dakota. It gives us an opportunity to catch up. It's good news for the department. It's good news for the industry.”

The director of the state Department of Transportation says DOT is having some trouble securing rights-of-way for highway projects in western North Dakota.

Grant Levi told a Legislative interim committee a good example of that is the proposed US Highway 85 truck reliever route in the Williston area, especially the intersection of US 85 and US 2.

"The cost of purchasing right-of-way is at numbers that I wouldn't have imagined in my career," said Levi. "At that location, we're spending about $165,000 an acre."