The Bismarck Tribune, Bismarck, Nov. 4, 2013
Sandpiper needs strong review
The proposed 610-mile Sandpiper pipeline could be an important part of North Dakota's energy-producing future. The section of line across North Dakota would be at least 24 inches in diameter and have a capacity of 225,000 barrels. That section of pipeline would "generally" follow Enbridge's existing right of way.
North Dakota needs more crude oil pipeline capacity. It's more efficient than moving crude by truck or rail, and we believe it's safer. That said, recent pipeline ruptures and spills have raised questions about monitoring, oversight and technology, especially with older lines. Before Sandpiper takes off, there needs to be rigorous review of the process, regulations and inspections.
Crude oil pipelines come under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. The pipeline administration's performance related to the Tesoro Logistics pipeline leak near Tioga discovered on Sept. 29, the state's largest oil spill, was unsatisfactory. There was insufficient monitoring and oversight by that agency.
If the U.S. truly wants energy independence, it will require crude oil pipelines linking oil-producing regions to refineries. And, if we are going to have pipelines, the federal government must improve its oversight. The Tesoro line at 6 inches in diameter has a much lower capacity than what's proposed under the Sandpiper project. The size of a leak in the Sandpiper line could be much larger and the damage much greater. Hence, Sandpiper needs better monitoring.
Further, with a pipeline like Sandpiper, basically crossing North Dakota from west to east, the state should have a larger role in establishing effective monitoring and oversight of the pipeline's operation over the long term. Companies like Enbridge have access to the technology and ability to construct pipelines that are high-quality and low-risk. They need to be held to it. Performance must match potential when it comes to environmentally safe operations.
The recent revelation that there have been 300 spills, from small to large, in North Dakota oil fields during the past three years didn't do much to reassure the public. The North Dakota Health Department now has under construction a website that will make spills public in real time. There's a lot at stake in North Dakota's oil ventures, and it's imperative that it be done right.
Sandpiper could be a very good thing for North Dakota, but the state needs to take a hand in ensuring high performance by all parties.
Minot Daily News, Minot, Nov. 5, 2013
Navy's welcome addition
In a few months, the USS North Dakota will be operating in the seas of the world after the $2.6 billion attack submarine was christened last week.
The sub's christening coincided with the 124th anniversary of North Dakota becoming the 39th state of the union. The submarine will officially join the Navy fleet when it is commissioned in May.
The sub, the first vessel to carry the North Dakota in nearly a century, can launch cruise missiles, deliver special force commandos and carry out surveillance over land and sea. It will carry a crew of 138, with the senior enlisted sailor, Master Chief Petty Officer Tim Preabt, the only crew member from North Dakota.
The USS North Dakota will be the 11th in the Virginia class of subs, which are built to perform better in shallow water than other subs. Officials at the christening said the sub will operate "from the Arabian Sea to the polarized cap."
We have no doubt the USS North Dakota will be a great addition to the Navy, and will help the nation's armed forces protect the country and its interests around the world.
Williston Herald, Williston, Nov. 1, 2013
Spills need to be public
As a newspaper, we're always in favor of more transparency and openness from the government.
That same transparency needs to be applied to the oil and gas companies spread across the Williston Basin.
Together, the companies and state and federal governments need to keep an open door and an open mind about what information is in the public's need to know.
The recent oil spill in Tioga, which took 12 days to surface publicly and another 300-plus reported spills that have gone with publication to the people is irresponsible, pure and simple.
We understand that not every spill is a public threat and some can be extremely minor but reported to the state because of the law.
We get that.
To withhold it from the public, however, just doesn't make sense.
Here's our logic: If the spill is minor and non-threatening, what's the harm in letting us know about?
Gov. Jack Dalrymple is vowing a better system and Tesoro has followed through with all its promises so far in setting up a website and allowing some media onto the site to view its progress.
We see the Tioga situation as a learning experience for the state of North Dakota and Bakken oil companies.
Some things were done by the book, while others seemed like the wool was being pulled over the public's eyes.
We understand the state and Tesoro made 100 percent sure water was not affected and the procedures said it didn't need to go public.
It should have though and in the future, every spill should be public knowledge.