Amy Dalrymple / Bismarck Tribune
DICKINSON, N.D. — An attorney for conservation groups argued in court on Wednesday, Dec. 12, that air pollution estimates for a refinery proposed near a national park are underestimated, and health regulators should conduct a more comprehensive review. Scott Strand, representing the National Parks Conservation Association and the Environmental Law & Policy Center, said an air quality permit for the Davis Refinery should be vacated and sent back to the Department of Health for further analysis.
WASHINGTON — Legislation introduced by Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., that aims to give Native American tribes greater flexibility to manage their energy resources is headed to President Donald Trump to be signed into law. The U.S. House on Monday, Dec. 10, passed the Indian Tribal Energy Development and Self-Determination Act Amendments of 2017. Hoeven said the legislation streamlines the process for tribes to enter into Tribal Energy Resource Agreements with the Department of Interior.
The U.S. Forest Service is working to update its oil and gas leasing direction for the Little Missouri National Grassland, a document that hasn’t been updated since the Bakken oil boom was in its infancy. Changes proposed in the draft supplemental environmental impact statement would only affect 216,300 acres that are available for leasing but currently not leased. Lands that are already leased by oil and gas companies would not be affected unless those leases expire. The agency is considering three options: • Continue leasing with the current stipulations.
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp isn’t sure what her next chapter will be, but she knows where it will unfold. “I’m going to be back in North Dakota. Whatever I do, I’m going to be doing it from North Dakota,” Heitkamp said this week. In an interview with The Bismarck Tribune, the Democrat reflected on her time in office that will end sooner than she hoped after her election loss to Rep. Kevin Cramer.
BISMARCK — The North Dakota Department of Health is seeking input on establishing a new permit system for alternative methods of cleaning up oil and other hydrocarbon spills. An informational meeting scheduled next week comes as one company has a pilot project to use bioremediation, also known as landfarming, to remove spilled oil and allow the soil to be reused.
BISMARCK -- The U.S. Senate on Friday, Dec. 7, unanimously approved Savanna’s Act, legislation that aims to gather data on missing and murdered Native American women. The act, introduced by Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., is named for Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, a pregnant Fargo woman who was abducted and killed last year. The legislation would improve data collection on tribal victims, improve tribal access to federal law enforcement databases and create guidelines for responding when someone’s reported missing.
BISMARCK — An economic recession projected to occur during North Dakota’s next two-year budget cycle is expected to be both good and bad news for the state, an economist said Wednesday. Dan White, of Moody’s Analytics, presented an economic outlook to legislators as they begin to consider Gov. Doug Burgum’s budget proposal for 2019-21. The forecast calls for strong expectations in 2019 followed by a slower pace of growth similar to the rate of inflation for 2020 and 2021, said White, director of government consulting and public finance research.
BISMARCK — A custodian for Centennial Elementary School in Bismarck is no longer employed by the school district after he was accused of having sexual contact with a young boy. Blake Graff, 63, is charged in Burleigh County District Court with gross sexual imposition, a Class A felony. In a message to Centennial parents, school officials said the victim was not a student at the school.
BISMARCK — The regional director of the Environmental Protection Agency told North Dakota oil and coal leaders on Tuesday, Dec. 4, he wants to learn more about their industries in an effort to improve regulations. Doug Benevento, who leads the Denver-based EPA office that oversees North Dakota, invited input from industry during two roundtable discussions held in Bismarck.
TWIN BUTTES, N.D. - Voters in Twin Buttes elected a woman to the school board Tuesday, Nov. 27, who was previously convicted in federal court of stealing more than $300,000 from the district while serving as board president. Melissa Starr, who pleaded guilty in 2007 to embezzlement and theft, received 35 write-in votes in a special election held after citizens sought to recall another board member. A total of 54 people voted in the election, with three people splitting the remaining 19 votes.