BISMARCK TRIBUNE EDITORIAL
Thursday, February 9, 2012 ■ Page 13 Make sure N.D. meets challenges Oil development in western North Dakota must in-
clude proper handling of waste from the drilling and production process. It’s critical now and for the future. The means to process and dispose of waste must be made possible in a reasonable fashion. The North Dakota Industrial Commission gave ap-
proval to CCS Midstream Services for a treatment facil- ity to separate crude oil from tank sludge, drilling mud and oily saltwater at a yet-to-be-constructed plant near Tioga in the White Earth Valley. It’s expected that CCS also will continue to pursue zoning for a landfi ll and a solid waste permit from the state Health Department. Some of the residents of the White Earth Valley have
been attempting to stop CCS from developing an in- dustrial site the company intends to purchase. While most people can appreciate the concerns of
the White Earth residents, there are other forces at work here that make this location a good one for the com- pany and for the common good of people in the region.
Waste from drilling needs to be handled
There’s access to an improved major highway — U.S. Highway 2 and there are no waterways or bodies of wa- ter in the valley. The company says the soil profi le at the site is favorable for use. Dealing with the industrial cycle of oil development
from drilling to disposing of waste and moving oil to market presents many diffi cult challenges. If North Da- kota is to succeed over the long term as an oil-produc- ing state, one that secures a post-oil development fu- ture, then these challenges need to be met at each point in that cycle.
CCS must obtain proper zoning for its proposal.
That will be a decision by the Mountrail County Plan- ning and Zoning Board, which is made up of local resi- dents. In that equation, the local property owner has a stake. And if the zoning hurdles are managed, the Health Department will deal with the solid waster per- mit. At each point in the process, citizens have a voice and government, local or state, has an opportunity to make sure the right protections are in place for the local community. The company hopes to begin construction of the fa-
cility this spring. It has made a commitment to White Earth. CCS Development Manager Scott Herbst told the Tribune, “We’ll work with the community, listen to their concerns and try to mitigate those.” Oil development in North Dakota can’t happen
without dealing with the full cycle of exploration and production. Publicly and privately, the state needs to meet a full range of challenges in the oil patch.
Mined land comes full circle A measure of North Dakota’s commitment over
time to its environment can be taken in the returning of land mined for coal to farming. The state Public Service Commission has before it
a request to return 217 acres near Underwood to its farming owners. The land has been part of the Falkirk Mine. It has been reclaimed. Because of the vision of the late Gov. Art Link, the
state established policies that require mining compa- nies to return mined lands to a condition “as good and, in some cases, better than before.” Returning these lands — there have been other re- claimed lands returned before and the PSC has requests to return another 4,200 acres — connect Link’s vi- sion with constructive policies and measurable results. They are a tribute to conservation and the partnership among business, industry and government for the pub- lic good.
The life cycle of a mine from the “fi rst application” until the PSC commission approves its return to agri- cultural productivity is long. After a mine is opened, it
Reclamation works for North Dakota
can take years before it is mined out. There’s years of reclamation work, and then a mining company must wait at least 10 years after the reclaimed land is fi rst seeded before requesting it be released. The PSC has a record of the land’s original produc-
tivity. The mining company, after putting soils back, re- shaping the contours and seeding the land, must keep soil productivity records. They must compare favorably to the record on fi le with the PSC for the land. The re- cord must show the land has returned to pre-mining productivity and the soil returned to health. The point being, it can be done. Developing the state
lignite resources and agriculture do not represent “ei- ther or” propositions. Land reclamation works in North
Dakota. Mining companies have met the challenge. It does not mean coal mining and reclamation do
not have their detractors or opponents. There continue to be tensions on environmental issues not restricted to reclamation. Mining companies and some surrounding neigh-
bors have concerns regarding air and water quality. The land does get tied up in non-agricultural uses for a very long time. All that continues to be true. Reclamation laws and regulations have nurtured the
process of returning mined lines to farmland. While coal mining and oil exploration and produc-
tion are vastly different enterprises. A common set of standards should apply when it comes to stewardship and conservation. North Dakota continues to pursue a role as an energy producer and exporter. It has proven to be a good steward of the land when it comes to min- ing coal. It’s something the people of the state can be proud of.
The people must also ask that the state be a good steward of the land when it comes to oil development.
Serving the Bakken
Fishing & Rental Tools
Hwy 85 South • Williston 701-774-8989
Hwy 22 North • Dickinson 701-227-3737
| Page 2
| Page 3
| Page 4
| Page 5
| Page 6
| Page 7
| Page 8
| Page 9
| Page 10
| Page 11
| Page 12
| Page 13
| Page 14
| Page 15
| Page 16
| Page 17
| Page 18
| Page 19
| Page 20