Amy Dalrymple / Bismarck Tribune
BISMARCK—New figures from the U.S. Department of Energy show North Dakota as a leading state for wind energy development. North Dakota added 249 megawatts of wind capacity in 2017, ranking eighth in the nation, according to the department's 2017 Wind Technologies Market Report released last week. The state had a total of 2,996 megawatts of wind capacity at the end of 2017, the report said, making North Dakota 11th in the country for the total amount of wind capacity installed.
BISMARCK — North Dakota geologists are re-evaluating whether local sources of sand could be used for hydraulic fracturing as oil industry demand increases. Oil companies now use greater volumes of sand for fracking, averaging about 2,500 to 5,000 tons per well, according to the Department of Mineral Resources. Operators are interested in finding a North Dakota source of sand to save on transportation costs rather than importing it by rail, said Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council.
BISMARCK—The National Weather Service is taking steps to improve weather radar coverage for western North Dakota after a deadly tornado in Watford City raised awareness of gaps in coverage. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has committed to studying whether the Minot radar system can be adjusted to improve coverage in western North Dakota, Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said Thursday.
BISMARCK—The Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Interior as the tribe continues to challenge oil wells that tribal leaders say were drilled too close to Lake Sakakawea. The tribe is exhausting its appeals after the Bureau of Land Management approved oil wells that are closer to the lake than tribal regulations allow, MHA Chairman Mark Fox said in an interview on Wednesday.
BISMARCK—An analysis of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act shows that individuals are projected to pay more North Dakota state income tax while small businesses and corporations are expected to pay less than they did before the tax reform. Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger said individual taxpayers will see mixed results from the federal tax reform that took effect this year, with smaller families likely paying less taxes to the state while larger families see an increase.
BISMARCK — The North Dakota Department of Agriculture is launching a new program to help landowners resolve concerns related to wind energy development. Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring announced Monday the creation of a wind energy restoration and reclamation oversight program, similar to an initiative developed in 2015 related to pipeline construction. The program will allow a landowner or tenant who is dissatisfied by the response of a wind energy company related to reclamation of their property to work with a Department of Agriculture ombudsman.
BISMARCK — A company that operates oil pipelines in North Dakota is promoting an alternative method to cleaning up spills: introducing bugs to contaminated soil. Targa Resources has a pilot project in McKenzie County that is using bioremediation, also known as landfarming, to remove spilled oil and allow the soil to be reused. "When you spill hydrocarbon, there are naturally occurring microbes − bugs − that immediately start to eat it," said David McQuade, senior environmental director for Targa. "I'm adding a bunch more bugs that want to eat it at a faster rate."
BISMARCK — North Dakota oil production dropped nearly 2 percent in June as producers scaled back activity, primarily to keep natural gas flaring from exceeding state limits, the state's top oil regulator said Thursday, Aug. 16. The state produced an average of nearly 1.23 million barrels of oil per day, a drop of more than 20,000 barrels per day from the May record of nearly 1.25 million barrels. "Industry's tapping the brakes a little bit," said Lynn Helms, director of the Department of Mineral Resources.
BISMARCK—A North Dakota legislator is proposing to change how wind energy tax revenue is distributed, sending a portion of the money to state coffers rather than directing it all to local counties. Rep. Mike Brandenburg, R-Edgeley, presented his idea Tuesday, Aug. 14, to the Legislature's interim Energy Development and Transmission Committee. Brandenburg, a strong advocate for wind energy, said his goal is to address criticism that the wind industry doesn't contribute to the state budget the same way that coal and oil do.
MEDORA, N.D. — Morgan Rebenitsch is getting full use of her theater degree this summer working in North Dakota's tourist destination. The recent college graduate from Mandan is managing the Old Town Hall Theater in downtown Medora, coordinating as many as four shows a day. At night, Rebenitsch also is involved with the Medora Musical, working backstage as a technician and playing the popular character Sheriff Bear. "I love it. I really do," Rebenitsch said. "It's a really great learning environment here."