Battle Brews Over Methane Leaks

Aug 10, 2017
Tim Evanson / Flickr

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency visited North Dakota this week on a 25-state listening tour, amid an effort by the Trump administration to roll back a host of environmental regulations.

The latest battle is over leaks of methane and other invisible gases, which sometimes escape from the equipment that’s supposed to contain them at oil and gas well sites.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is working to halt Obama-era rules requiring stricter controls at those well sites.

North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said he welcomes the appointment of Scott Pruitt to head the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

Pruitt is the current Oklahoma Attorney General.

Stenehjem said he’s worked closely with Pruitt to fight what Stenehjem termed the "massive government overreach” of some of EPA’s policies.

"Scott has been a leader in bringing that kind of litigation," Stenehjem said. "He believes that, under our system of federalism, the executive branch should only faithfully execute the laws passed by Congress."

Members of the North Dakota Public Service Commission say they welcome the US Supreme Court’s decision concerning EPA rules dealing with coal-fired power plants.

The high court says EPA should have taken cost into consideration – when it issued rules dealing with mercury and air toxics.

PSC chairman Julie Fedorchak says it is a step in the right direction.

"It really represents the Supreme Court pulling in the reins on the EPA," said Fedorchak.

Basin Electric welcomes Supreme Court EPA ruling

Jul 1, 2015

Officials with Basin Electric Power Cooperative say they’re happy with the US Supreme Court’s ruling that the federal EPA didn’t properly take into account the costs for utilities to comply with power plant emissions limits.

Basin’s Steve Tomac says while Basin already implemented compliance on the EPA’s mercury emissions rule, this ruling sets a precedent.

ND, other states sue EPA over 'Waters of the US' rule

Jun 29, 2015
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

North Dakota and 12 other states have gone to federal court to stop the EPA and the Corps of Engineers from enforcing the new “Waters of the United States” rule.

The suit was filed in federal court in Bismarck.

The plaintiffs say the new rule is federal overreach.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem says the EPA’s new rule is unconstitutional. He says it goes far beyond the intent of the Clean Water act.

“This federal power grab is unnecessary, unlawful and will do nothing to increase water quality in our state,” Stenehjem said at a Capitol news conference.

Taylor, Goehring say EPA rule is an overreach

Jun 3, 2014

They may be on opposite sides of the ticket, but Ryan Taylor and Doug Goehring share an opinion on the EPA's proposed rule change to the Clean Water Act.

Taylor, a Democrat is challenging Republican incumbent Goehring for agriculture commissioner.  Taylor says North Dakotans want clean water, and a functioning agriculture economy - but with the rule changes, he says that becomes difficult.  Taylor says the changes would grant federal permitting where it wasn't required before - and that type of control is an overreach of power.

Mosquito population lower than expected

Jul 3, 2013

This mosquito population is higher than last year’s but still lower than the five-year average.

Alicia Lepp is an epidemiologist with the North Dakota Department of Health. She said the department has noticed a significant increase in mosquito populations since the beginning of summer.

Lepp said the state is noticing lower numbers of culex tarsalis mosquito, or the mosquito that carries West Nile Disease.

EPA guidance on fracking delayed

Dec 28, 2012

State mineral resources director Lynn Helms says it may be a little while before the EPA will issue guidance on rules for hydraulic fracturing.

"Their initial goal was to finalize that rule by the end of this year," said Helms. "It's going to be, we think, close to mid-year next year before they can publish a final rule."

Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” along with horizontal drilling, has spurred the oil boom in the Bakken. Helms says the US Forest Service has also proposed fracking rules – and he says both have received thousands of comments.