John Hageman covers local business and North Dakota politics. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Bemidji Pioneer.
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The protest and legal battle over an oil pipeline being constructed near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and the subsequent responses from state and federal authorities has drawn varying reactions from candidates for North Dakota's highest offices. A decision from three federal agencies announced Friday halted the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land, despite a federal judge's denial of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's request for an injunction against the project that same day.
BISMARCK—A former presidential candidate has joined the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., proposed an amendment Thursday to the Water Resources Development Act to prevent the secretary of the Army from granting an easement for the Lake Oahe crossing for the crude oil pipeline until the completion of an environmental impact statement. The Senate is scheduled to resume consideration of the bill Monday afternoon, according to its floor schedule.
GRAFTON, N.D.—Seat harnesses tightened. Ear plugs in. Doors shut. The engine comes to life and the blades above start spinning. Within a few minutes, a Black Hawk helicopter carrying more than a dozen people lifts above Grand Forks International Airport on its way to the North Dakota National Guard's Camp Grafton Training Center. That ride was the first leg of a trip to provide area employers and others a firsthand look at National Guard operations Thursday.
ROLLA, N.D.—Marvin Nelson isn't shy about assessing his position on his party's list of choices of candidates for North Dakota governor. Asked whether he felt like he was the Democratic-NPL Party's third pick to run for governor after North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp said she wouldn't attempt a return to Bismarck and former Agriculture Commissioner Sarah Vogel bowed out, Nelson offered a quick-witted response typical of his blunt style.
GRAND FORKS, N.D.—An attorney for Grand Forks County property owners who resisted construction of a oil pipeline on their land welcomed Enbridge Energy Partners' decision to suspend its Sandpiper Pipeline project. The company announced Thursday it had shelved the project, which would carry crude oil from western North Dakota to Superior, Wis., citing market conditions and regulatory delays in Minnesota. It will withdraw applications pending with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.
GRAND FORKS, N.D.—Grand Forks Herald veteran Kirsten Stromsodt was named the newspaper's editor Tuesday afternoon. Herald Publisher Korrie Wenzel informed the news staff of the decision on the day Steve Wagner left the editor post. Wagner was hired as the Forum News Service director in Fargo earlier this month. While he was disappointed by Wagner's departure, Wenzel called Stromsodt a "reader-first" kind of journalist. "That, coupled with her lifetime connection to the Grand Forks region, will mean great things for the Herald," he added.
BISMARCK—An audit of the North Dakota Department of Human Services found child care providers were allowed to continue operating while the state's largest agency was aware of instances of illegal drug use and "inappropriate touching from adults."
GRAND FORKS, N.D.—North Dakota Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley repeatedly called the protest over an oil pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation "unlawful" Tuesday and called on tribal leaders to pull people out of what he described as an increasingly dangerous situation.
SPOKANE, Wash.—A city in eastern Washington has backed down from a proposal to fine railroad companies for hauling crude oil and coal through town, a move that was welcomed by a group representing North Dakota's oil industry. The Spokane City Council voted in late July to ask voters to approve an ordinance outlawing rail transportation of certain crude oil and uncovered coal through its downtown or within 2,000 feet of a school, hospital or the Spokane River. The civil infraction would amount to a $261 fine per rail car.
GRAND FORKS, N.D.—Internet retail giant Amazon has proposed paying more than $845,000 to terminate its lease at a city-owned building in west Grand Forks. The Seattle-based company had been occupying about 29,000 square feet of the building at 1400 S. 48th St. in the Grand Forks Industrial Park since September 2011. But Amazon notified the city in April that it was exercising its right to terminate the lease after September 2018, according to a city staff memo published ahead of today's Grand Forks Growth Fund Committee meeting.