BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The Bismarck Tribune, Bismarck, April 1, 2015
New hydraulic fracturing rule redundant
A new rule concerning chemicals used during the hydraulic fracturing process, issued last week by the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management, is a classic example of federal overreach. The reason — states and industry has already figured out a way to monitor the process.
The rule which goes into effect June 1, comes after a review of more than 1.5 million submitted comments. It's meant to address energy development on public and tribal lands. The rule includes requirements publicly disclosing chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing within 30 days of the completion of a well.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple said "We need to take action," adding that the rules, "could interfere with the work of the state's water commission and health department."
Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said lawmakers approved $1 million during the last legislative session . for litigation on issues such as fracking regulation. On Tuesday, the North Dakota Industrial Commission voted to join Wyoming in a lawsuit challenging the rule.
The irony is that the rule requires companies drilling for oil and gas to use FracFocus.org to disclose chemicals used when hydraulic fracturing takes place on public land. The website is already being used by at least 16 oil- and gas-producing states.
The site gathers well-specific data to track chemicals used during the fracking portion of the well development process for tens of thousands of drilling sites across the country. Nearly 95,000 wells nationwide have already been registered on the site.
The purpose of FracFocus.org is to provide public transparency to ensure groundwater supplies are properly protected. The site was formed by industry and intergovernmental groups in 2011. It was a sensible move — the public has a right to know what chemicals are used, and that the fracking process is safe.
Now, federal officials are requiring states to duplicate an existing process by mandating use of FracFocus.org as a reporting site for wells drilled on federal land. It does little more than regulating something already being regulated effectively at the state level.
Federal officials go further, suggesting FracFocus.org could serve as a template that the oil and gas industry could adopt to ease public concerns, even though that's already the case. Their comments are an apparent refusal to acknowledge exiting efforts.
The rule, if it's not overturned, does nothing more than add federal red tape, increasing well completion cost and hindering our nation's ability to move closer toward energy independence.
The move by the Obama administration seemingly has more to do with curtailing energy development on public land than anything else. Incidences of ground water contamination, a topic examined at length, have yet to be discovered despite hydraulic fracturing having occurred for decades.
States have in the past, and continue to be, better positioned to monitor energy development in their respective geographies. Implementing rules able to take into consideration unique geologic and hydrologic conditions, on a state-by-state basis, is a more effective approach than a one size fits all approach.
With an effective process already in place to track fracking chemicals at the state level, federal officials would be wise to focus on areas of need not currently being addressed.
Minot Daily News, Minot, March 30, 2015
A salute to great women
Last Thursday was a special day for some special women of the Minot area.
The 22nd annual Women of Distinction awards were presented to a slate of women who have made extraordinary contributions to the community.
As in past years, awards were given to women engaged in business, volunteerism and community service to name a few categories. We were also reminded by the YWCA, which sponsors the awards, that this is a special year for that organization. In its 100th year, the YWCA has always been a vehicle for "women of distinction" to make a positive difference in their communities. Certainly other women of Minot have been deserving of this type of recognition for the 75-plus years prior to the awards being established. We give thanks for those souls, too.
We were especially struck by the words of one of this year's recipients, Breanna Benson, who said the award is great inspiration to be of service to the community.
"I just like doing things for the community and I enjoy doing service, I never really expect anything in return. ... It is such an honor."
Perhaps Benson should be in the running for a new category at next year's awards banquet — role model of the year.
Role models — mentors, too — are always in short supply and therefore to be highly valued.
Congratulations to all of this year's recipients.