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North Dakota News

Associated Press North Dakota News

Friday, August 23rd 2019

PIPELINE SPILL-NORTH DAKOTA

North Dakota agency disregarded policy on spill reporting

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota's Health Department disregarded its own policy in updating the volume of pipeline spill at a natural gas processing plant.

In July 2015, Oneok Partners reported a 10-gallon (8-imperial gallon) spill of natural gas condensate from a pipeline at a plant near Watford City.

The estimated size of the spill was never updated, even as Oneok updated the state on cleanup. In October, Oneok told the state it had recovered 240,000 gallons (nearly 200,000 imperial gallons) of the liquid gas.

State Environmental Quality Chief Dave Glatt said Thursday that a spill report should have been made public to reflect the severity of the spill.

It's also unclear whether promised quarterly inspections of the site have been done in the past two years.

Glatt says he is investigating whether the inspections occurred.

WOMAN KILLED-BABY TAKEN

North Dakota court overturns life term in cut from womb case

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — The North Dakota Supreme Court has thrown out the life sentence given to a man whose girlfriend cut the baby from the womb of an unsuspecting neighbor.

William Hoehn, of Fargo, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit kidnapping in the August 2017 attack on Savanna Greywind, who died of her injuries but whose baby survived. He entered the plea before a jury acquitted him of conspiracy to commit murder.

Hoehn's girlfriend, Brooke Crews, admitted that she sliced Greywind's baby from her womb.

Hoehn had faced a maximum 21 years behind bars, but Judge Tom Olson granted prosecutors' request to label Hoehn a dangerous offender, enhancing his maximum sentence to life with the possibility of parole.

The state Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Hoehn shouldn't have received that designation and ordered that he be resentenced.

___

This story has been corrected to reflect that Hoehn pleaded guilty to the kidnapping conspiracy charge and wasn't convicted of it by a jury.

SUPREME COURT-OIL PIPELINE-SECURITY

High court upholds dismissal of pipeline security case

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The North Dakota Supreme Court has denied an appeal by state regulators who sought up to $2 million in fines from a North Carolina company that handled security for the developer of the heavily protested Dakota Access oil pipeline.

Justices in an opinion released Thursday upheld Judge John Grinsteiner's dismissal of the case by North Dakota's Private Investigative and Security Board.

The board sued TigerSwan in 2017, alleging the company that handled security for the pipeline developer illegally operated without a state license.

Grinsteiner dismissed that case and the fines against the company.

The state's high court also agreed with the lower court's rejection of TigerSwan's request for reimbursement of at least $165,000 in attorney fees.

RIVER JUMPER ARRESTED

Fargo police arrest man who fled into river

(Information from: KFGO-AM, http://www.kfgo.com)

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Law enforcement officers have caught up with a man in Fargo who tried to avoid arrest by jumping into the Red River.

KFGO reports authorities say the 27-year-old man, who was wanted on a warrant, fled from a traffic stop in Moorhead, Minnesota Wednesday night and led police on a brief pursuit before jumping into the river and swimming across to Fargo.

That's where he was arrested by Fargo police and Clay County sheriff's deputies.

___

DAKOTA ACCESS PIPELINE-EXPANSION

North Dakota PSC sets Nov. 13 hearing on expanding DAPL

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota regulators have set a Nov. 13 public hearing on a proposed expansion of the Dakota Access pipeline.

Texas-based Energy Transfer wants to double the capacity of the line to as much as 1.1 million barrels daily. The pipeline has been moving North Dakota oil through to a shipping point in Illinois since 2017.

The Standing Rock Sioux, which led original opposition to the pipeline , had sought a hearing. The tribe said expanding capacity would increase the likelihood and consequences of a spill. The pipeline is routed less than half a mile from the band's reservation, beneath a Missouri River reservoir that provides the tribe's drinking water.

The public hearing will be held in Linton, near where a pump station would go in to increase the line's capacity.

CONVICT-LIFE SENTENCE ARGUMENT

Convict says life sentence discriminates against young

(Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com)

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A man who was convicted of murder 20 years ago is arguing that a life sentence discriminates against younger people.

Shawn Helmenstein is seeking to clarify his parole eligibility date. The 42-year-old Helmenstein was sentenced in 2000 to life in prison with the possibility of parole for a deadly liquor store robbery.

The Bismarck Tribune reports that South Central District Judge James Hill appeared skeptical of Helmenstein's argument, but said he'd consider it.

Helmenstein argued a 22-year-old sentenced to life with the possibility of parole would have to serve more than 46 years before becoming eligible for release, but a person convicted at age 42 would be eligible after less than 31 years.

Hill said he would modify Helmenstein's sentencing judgment to include his life expectancy. That will help calculate Helmenstein's parole eligibility date.


Associated Press North Dakota News

Thursday, August 22nd 2019

RIVER JUMPER ARRESTED

Fargo police arrest man who fled into river

(Information from: KFGO-AM, http://www.kfgo.com)

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Law enforcement officers have caught up with a man in Fargo who tried to avoid arrest by jumping into the Red River.

KFGO reports authorities say the 27-year-old man, who was wanted on a warrant, fled from a traffic stop in Moorhead, Minnesota Wednesday night and led police on a brief pursuit before jumping into the river and swimming across to Fargo.

That's where he was arrested by Fargo police and Clay County sheriff's deputies.

___

PIPELINE SPILL-NORTH DAKOTA

Spill revelation raises questions about North Dakota system

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The North Dakota Health Department's acknowledgment this week that a 2015 pipeline leak of liquid natural gas was bigger than publicly documented raises questions about how many other spills and leaks are underreported.

And state officials weren't immediately able to answer that Wednesday.

In July 2015, Oklahoma-based Oneok Partners reported a 10-gallon (8-imperial gallon) spill of natural gas condensate from a pipeline at a plant near Watford City.

The estimated size of the spill was never updated, even as Oneok updated the state on cleanup. In October, Oneok told the state it had recovered 240,000 gallons (nearly 200,000 imperial gallons) of the liquid gas.

State Environmental Quality Chief Dave Glatt says the agency does not update initial public reports of spill but is considering doing so in the future.

DAKOTA ACCESS PIPELINE-EXPANSION

North Dakota PSC sets Nov. 13 hearing on expanding DAPL

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota regulators have set a Nov. 13 public hearing on a proposed expansion of the Dakota Access pipeline.

Texas-based Energy Transfer wants to double the capacity of the line to as much as 1.1 million barrels daily. The pipeline has been moving North Dakota oil through to a shipping point in Illinois since 2017.

The Standing Rock Sioux, which led original opposition to the pipeline , had sought a hearing. The tribe said expanding capacity would increase the likelihood and consequences of a spill. The pipeline is routed less than half a mile from the band's reservation, beneath a Missouri River reservoir that provides the tribe's drinking water.

The public hearing will be held in Linton, near where a pump station would go in to increase the line's capacity.

CONVICT-LIFE SENTENCE ARGUMENT

Convict says life sentence discriminates against young

(Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com)

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A man who was convicted of murder 20 years ago is arguing that a life sentence discriminates against younger people.

Shawn Helmenstein is seeking to clarify his parole eligibility date. The 42-year-old Helmenstein was sentenced in 2000 to life in prison with the possibility of parole for a deadly liquor store robbery.

The Bismarck Tribune reports that South Central District Judge James Hill appeared skeptical of Helmenstein's argument, but said he'd consider it.

Helmenstein argued a 22-year-old sentenced to life with the possibility of parole would have to serve more than 46 years before becoming eligible for release, but a person convicted at age 42 would be eligible after less than 31 years.

Hill said he would modify Helmenstein's sentencing judgment to include his life expectancy. That will help calculate Helmenstein's parole eligibility date.

___

ENGELSTAD FOUNDATION-ARENA CONTRACT

With feud over, University of North Dakota donors sign pact

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — A major donor to the University of North Dakota who had threatened to withhold donations over a dispute with the former president has agreed to a 10-year contract extension with the school to operate the team's hockey arena.

School and Ralph Engelstad Arena officials announced Tuesday that the deal will run through September of 2030. Terms were not announced.

Engelstad Foundation trustee Kris McGarry, whose late father donated money for the $110 million arena, was at odds with previous president Mark Kennedy over the arena usage agreement, among others things. Kennedy was named president at the University of Colorado in May.

McGarry said in a release that she appreciated interim President Joshua Wynne's "leadership on this issue."

The foundation recently donated $4 million for a $6 million hockey scoreboard.

REFINERY-NATIONAL PARK

CEO: Refinery by Roosevelt National Park 1 year behind plan

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The head of a company developing an $800 million oil refinery near Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota says lawsuits have made investors skittish, delaying progress on the project.

Meridian Energy Group CEO William Prentice says company hopes to have the refinery operating in 2022, a year later than planned.

Meridian wants to build the refinery just 3 miles (5 kilometers) from the park that's the state's top tourist attraction. Environmental groups argue pollution from the factory will spoil scenery and air quality.

Securities fillings show the company has raised less than 5% of the project's construction costs. And the company has two disputes pending before the state Supreme Court.

Prentice says the company will prevail in court and funding will be secured within months.


Associated Press North Dakota News

Wednesday, August 21st 2019

PIPELINE SPILL-NORTH DAKOTA

2015 North Dakota liquid gas spill much bigger than reported

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota's Health Department says a 2015 pipeline spill of liquid natural gas in the western part of the state is much bigger than originally reported and could take another decade to clean up.

Oklahoma-based Oneok Partners reported a 10-gallon spill of natural gas condensate from a pipeline at its Garden Creek gas plant near Watford City in July 2015.

North Dakota Environmental Quality Chief Dave Glatt says the company reported last October that it had recovered 240,000 gallons of the liquid gas and that cleanup was ongoing. But the state report of the spill was never updated to reflect the severity.

The larger-than-publicized spill was first reported by DeSmog, a blog dedicated to fighting climate change misinformation. It cited an unnamed person who provided a document that said the spill could be as large as 11 million gallons.

Oneok says that estimate was just "hypothetical assumptions" done by a consultant.

ENGELSTAD FOUNDATION-ARENA CONTRACT

With feud over, University of North Dakota donors sign pact

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — A major donor to the University of North Dakota who had threatened to withhold donations over a dispute with the former president has agreed to a 10-year contract extension with the school to operate the team's hockey arena.

School and Ralph Engelstad Arena officials announced Tuesday that the deal will run through September of 2030. Terms were not announced.

Engelstad Foundation trustee Kris McGarry, whose late father donated money for the $110 million arena, was at odds with previous president Mark Kennedy over the arena usage agreement, among others things. Kennedy was named president at the University of Colorado in May.

McGarry said in a release that she appreciated interim President Joshua Wynne's "leadership on this issue."

The foundation recently donated $4 million for a $6 million hockey scoreboard.

REFINERY-NATIONAL PARK

CEO: Refinery by Roosevelt National Park 1 year behind plan

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The head of a company developing an $800 million oil refinery near Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota says lawsuits have made investors skittish, delaying progress on the project.

Meridian Energy Group CEO William Prentice says company hopes to have the refinery operating in 2022, a year later than planned.

Meridian wants to build the refinery just 3 miles (5 kilometers) from the park that's the state's top tourist attraction. Environmental groups argue pollution from the factory will spoil scenery and air quality.

Securities fillings show the company has raised less than 5% of the project's construction costs. And the company has two disputes pending before the state Supreme Court.

Prentice says the company will prevail in court and funding will be secured within months.

INDUSTRIAL HEMP

Legislative committee talks industrial hemp in South Dakota

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — Members of a legislative committee are still exploring the legalization of industrial hemp in South Dakota, despite a past veto and continued opposition from Republican Gov. Kristi Noem.

Several lawmakers met Monday in Pierre to hear from officials in North Dakota and Montana, where the crop is legal.

Noem sent members of her administration to the meeting to oppose legalization. KELO reported that the administration's common theme is that too many questions remain. Public Safety Secretary Craig Price said legalizing industrial hemp would open the way for new attempts to legalize marijuana.

Minority Whip Oren Lesmeister has been meeting with officials from states where industrial hemp is grown and processed. He says those states have strict rules, and fears that industrial hemp will lead to marijuana production are unwarranted.

BRINE SPILL

Fire in Williams County releases 280 barrels of brine

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A fire at a well in Williams County led to the release of 280 barrels of brine.

The North Dakota Oil and Gas Division says the fire happened Saturday at a well 5 miles east of Alamo. Whiting Oil and Gas Corp. reported the brine release Sunday.

All brine was contained on location and cleanup has started. A North Dakota Oil and Gas inspector has been on site and will monitor the cleanup process.

RAILROAD BRIDGE

Study: Converting railroad bridge feasible but expensive

(Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com)

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A study finds that converting a historic North Dakota railroad bridge into a pedestrian bridge can be done but it would be expensive.

Landscape architecture professors at North Dakota State University looked at repurposing the Bismarck-Mandan Rail Bridge as a footbridge. The Bismarck Tribune reports the report concluded that would cost almost $6.9 million.

Proponents of saving the structure acknowledge that they don't yet have any funding commitments.

Bridge owner BNSF Railway maintains that converting the 136-year-old bridge — rather than demolishing it — would delay a needed new bridge and also cause safety concerns.

The bridge over the Missouri River connects Bismarck and Mandan. Friends of the Rail Bridge is proposing to convert the bridge into a pedestrian and bicycle path.


Associated Press North Dakota News

Tuesday, August 20th 2019

BRINE SPILL

Fire in Williams County releases 280 barrels of brine

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A fire at a well in Williams County led to the release of 280 barrels of brine.

The North Dakota Oil and Gas Division says the fire happened Saturday at a well 5 miles east of Alamo. Whiting Oil and Gas Corp. reported the brine release Sunday.

All brine was contained on location and cleanup has started. A North Dakota Oil and Gas inspector has been on site and will monitor the cleanup process.

RAILROAD BRIDGE

Study: Converting railroad bridge feasible but expensive

(Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com)

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A study finds that converting a historic North Dakota railroad bridge into a pedestrian bridge can be done but it would be expensive.

Landscape architecture professors at North Dakota State University looked at repurposing the Bismarck-Mandan Rail Bridge as a footbridge. The Bismarck Tribune reports the report concluded that would cost almost $6.9 million.

Proponents of saving the structure acknowledge that they don't yet have any funding commitments.

Bridge owner BNSF Railway maintains that converting the 136-year-old bridge — rather than demolishing it — would delay a needed new bridge and also cause safety concerns.

The bridge over the Missouri River connects Bismarck and Mandan. Friends of the Rail Bridge is proposing to convert the bridge into a pedestrian and bicycle path.

___

DENTISTS OR THERAPISTS

Backers of rural dental care find something to smile about

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Dozens of countries use dental therapists to bring basic dental care to remote areas, often tribal reservations.

But in the U.S., dentists and their powerful lobby have battled legislatures for years on the drive to allow therapists, who perform basic procedures and leave the more complex work to dentists.

The tide is starting to turn, though.

Several states have recently passed laws authorizing dental therapists. Among them are Vermont and Connecticut.

Some states won the support of dentists after bills required higher levels of education that are still less than what a dentist requires.

But the states looking to allow therapists must also find ways to train them. Only two states, Alaska and Minnesota, have educational programs.

Some lawmakers in Maine are optimistic about Vermont's efforts to set up a dental therapy program with distance-learning options.

RADIOACTIVE WASTE LANDFILL

Williams County landfill aims to accept radioactive waste

(Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com)

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A landfill north of Williston could soon become the first facility in North Dakota to accept higher levels of radioactive oilfield waste under new state regulations.

The Bismarck Tribune reports Secure Energy Services is seeking permits allowing it to dispose of radioactive material at its 13-Mile Landfill, which already accepts other types of waste generated by oil development.

The Health Department increased the allowable concentrations of technologically enhanced radioactive material — or TENORM — to be disposed of at approved landfills from 5 picocuries per gram to 50 picocuries per gram in 2016. Picocuries are a measure of radioactivity.

The change was controversial at the time, drawing lengthy hearings and a lawsuit from environmental groups.

___

DOT DIRECTOR

Burgum picks Panos as North Dakota's transportation director

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Gov. Doug Burgum has appointed a former Wyoming transportation commissioner to lead North Dakota's transportation department.

Burgum says William Panos will start the job in North Dakota on Oct. 21. He replaces Tom Sorel, a former Minnesota transportation commissioner who resigned after less than two years on the job in North Dakota.

Panos served as Wyoming transportation commissioner from 2008 to 2012. He has served as Lake County, Illinois' chief administrative officer only since July.

North Dakota's transportation department has nearly 1,000 employees, and a two-year budget of $1.4 billion.

Panos will be paid $172,400 annually.

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