Mike Nowatzki reports for Forum News Service. He can be reached at (701) 255-5607.
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BISMARCK – For the first time in more than four decades, someone not named Robert Peterson will lead the state auditor’s office in North Dakota after the November 2016 election. Current Auditor Robert R. Peterson, a Republican, said Wednesday he will retire next year and will not seek a sixth term in office.
BISMARCK – Bald eagles have put the brakes on a proposed wind farm in North Dakota as state regulators seek input on how the towers with their spinning blades could impact the national bird. Rolette Power Development LLC applied to the state Public Service Commission in March for a site permit for a $175 million, 100.4-megawatt wind farm with up to 59 turbines about three miles south of Rolette in north-central North Dakota.
BISMARCK – In another sign of the oil industry slowing down and infrastructure catching up in North Dakota, the state engineer’s office is discontinuing a program that allows irrigation permit holders to sell water to the oil industry for use in hydraulic fracturing.
BISMARCK – State agency leaders huddled Monday to start brainstorming on how to improve security for North Dakota’s statewide computer network, which one official said was attacked about 68 million times in the past two months. Gov. Jack Dalrymple, who appointed the Cybersecurity Task Force last month, urged its 15 members during their first meeting to share information about their agencies’ vulnerabilities and put together a number of “what-if” scenarios.
BISMARCK – An abandoned pit that was used to store oil drilling mud and fluids nearly 50 years ago is eroding into the Little Missouri River in western North Dakota, threatening to contaminate drinking water downstream as state officials develop a cleanup plan.
BISMARCK – Oil and gas development is displacing grassland birds from their habitat in North Dakota’s prolific Bakken shale region, including one candidate for listing as an endangered species, federal researchers say in a new report. Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service studied areas around gravel-surface oil well pads in 2012-2014.
BISMARCK – North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said Wednesday he will likely ask the U.S. Supreme Court next week to review an appeals court ruling that permanently blocked a state law banning abortions when a fetal heartbeat can be detected. “It’s a longshot to appeal it, but still the (state) statute says the attorney general shall defend (the state’s laws), and I think most people understand that’s what we need to do,” he said.
WILLISTON, N.D. – As one official put it, a new truck route will end “truckmageddon” in Williston. Construction is now complete on a permanent truck reliever route around Williston, where traffic counts have grown 160 percent since 2008. “The explosion of truck traffic during the Bakken boom, was as I would call it, ‘truckmageddon,’” said Sen. David Rust, R-Tioga, during an event Wednesday in Williston. “And it needed to be addressed.”
BISMARCK – North Dakota will sue the federal government to block stricter pollution standards for coal-fired power plants as soon as they are published, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said Tuesday, publicly confirming the planned lawsuit for the first time. Stenehjem was among several elected officials and industry leaders who lashed out at the EPA’s new Clean Power Plan rule for coal-fired plants during the Great Plains and EmPower ND Energy Conference at Bismarck State College.
BISMARCK – Former North Dakota governor Ed Schafer quietly exited the board of oil powerhouse Continental Resources Inc. earlier this year when his term expired and his seat was eliminated, a move he attributed to cost-cutting but which also came after the company objected to his role in a conservation group.