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Our View: Signs of the oil bust become more apparent

Occasionally, The Press Editorial Board looks at the good, bad and ugly news that recently made headlines throughout our region and state. The GoodDakota Access Pipeline approved: The North Dakota Public Service Commission on Wednesday approved a...

Occasionally, The Press Editorial Board looks at the good, bad and ugly news that recently made headlines throughout our region and state.

The Good
Dakota Access Pipeline approved: The North Dakota Public Service Commission on Wednesday approved a route for a $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline that would span more than 1,100 miles and send 450,000 barrels of Bakken and Three Forks crude a day from Stanley to Pakota, Ill. That’s nearly 40 percent of the oil produced in the state taken off rails and out of long-haul trucks. Though pipeline spills seem to be making headlines these days, it remains the safest way to transport oil. And despite declining oil prices, Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners is betting that production remains steady and appears to be planning for the long run. North Dakota now awaits Iowa’s decision on whether or not it’ll approve the pipeline’s route through its state.

Power of 100 women: Two Dickinson businesswomen, Shirley Dukart and Irene Schafer, are taking on quite a challenge by organizing the Power of 100 Women Who Care group in an effort raise $10,000 every three months to give back to charity. This is an outstanding idea and has worked well in larger cities, and could do well here. There’s bound to be 100 women in our area willing to donate $400 a year to worthy causes. We wish this new group the best of luck.

Assessing housing in Dickinson: The North Dakota Housing Finance Agency wants to study the future housing needs of Dickinson and other cities. This comes on the heels of Mayor Gene Jackson announcing Tuesday during his State of the City address that the city plans to see only 30 building permit requests in 2016 for single-family and low-density housing. The study, it is hoped, would help predict population under various scenarios. Dickinson and its fluctuating real estate market could use all the assessing it can get as it transitions out of the oil boom while simultaneously bracing for the potential of a resurgence of activity should oil prices bounce back.

The Bad
State tax revenues well below forecast: The Christmas shopping season didn’t help North Dakota as it was announced Wednesday that the state’s tax revenue shortfall is worse than expected. The state Office of Management and Budget says tax revenues for December fell $63 million below their original forecast, adding on to the state’s already growing revenue shortcomings. If the office’s forecasts stay on track, state revenues could come up as much as $500 million below projections, triggering automatic budget cuts of up to 2.5 percent for most state agencies.

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Obama stands behind WOTUS: In a totally predictable, yet sigh-inducing move, President Barack Obama vetoed a congressional resolution to prevent enforcement of the Waters of the U.S. provision this week. Despite a North Dakota-led 13-state lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers, Obama continues to stand behind this obvious overreach, which would put most small bodies of water and streams under the purview of the federal government.

The Ugly
Massive crew camp closes: In another glaring sign of the times in the oil industry, crew camp operator Target Logistics revealed this week that it was “temporarily” closing its 600-bed Dunn County Lodge facility just north of Dickinson. This camp was packed on a daily basis at the height of the oil boom. But now that Dickinson has added lots of housing and hotels, large crew camps seem obsolete. While Target Logistics insists this is just temporary, it’s hard to envision the camp reopening anytime soon, even if prices and activity does slowly creep up in the area. There are just too many other options now.

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