Every week we get drips and drabs about ND’s oil industry until it becomes almost ho-hum. So, it takes something like Lynn Helms’ address to the ND Association of Oil & Gas Producing Counties to remind us how unbelievable the Bakken story has become. Helms is the director of the ND Dept. of Mineral Resources. He says the U.S. and North America could achieve oil and gas independence within 10 years. This is not so much about prices, which will probably not go down much, because petroleum products trade on worldwide fungible markets. It’s more about American jobs and national security.
Helm says, for the moment, the Bakken has absorbed everything the industry can bring to bear on oil and gas. He expects around 200 rigs to be at work in ND for a very long time and in about five years the state may be producing 1.6 million barrels of oil a day, not far behind the current production of Texas. In the meantime, there is a huge need for pipeline right of ways and easements. Too much of ND production is moving by truck. He said seven natural gas plants are being built or expanded at a cost of $4 billion -- that needs to be doubled. Helm’s talk was covered by the Minot Daily News.
The U.S. Senate is one place where ND historically punches above its weight -- the state has a population of about 700,000 and has the same voting power in the senate as California’s 38 million residents. However, that advantage exists mainly when ND senators represent the same party, as has been the case for many years. When its senators represent different parties, they may cancel each other leaving the state voiceless on some issues. Republican Rick Berg is currently favored in the U.S. Senate race with Heidi Heitkamp, although at times the contest seems close. Nodaks should carefully consider the unintended consequences of having senators from two parties.
Damage from the 2011 Minot flood is estimated at $1 billion. Recovery is well along -- FEMA and the SBA have poured $400 million in grants and loans into the city. That represent about $10,000 for each resident. The city still has about 1,000 temporary housing units.
An ad in the Sioux Falls Argus Leader blared “Tell the Bison to Go Roam Somewhere Else.” Unfortunately for the U. of South Dakota Coyotes, the Bison came to Sioux Falls and the football score was Bison 54 -- Coyotes 0. Up north in the Grand Forks Alerus Center, the game was more balanced, but nameless UND managed to beat the U. of Montana Grizzlies 40-34. A banner day for ND teams as they beat up their neighbors.
Terrorist groups in Somalia should be way down the list of worries in ND. Or should they? Minnesota has the largest Somali population in the U.S. There has been some trickle down effect in ND -- Fargo has a relatively large Somali population and Grand Forks and Jamestown have noticeable populations of Somali immigrants. In Minnesota, 18 Somali men have been charged in a terrorist investigation. Seven have pleaded guilty and another who is the first to stand trial has been convicted. Of 20 young men recruited to go to Somalia from Minnesota, six are confirmed dead by the FBI, while the others are presumed dead or to still be in Somalia. It’s a safe bet the FBI is monitoring Somali activity in ND. Apart from terrorism, a Somalia man was murdered this year in Jamestown, another is on trial for multiple murders in Minot, and a Somali woman was convicted of assault with a car in Fargo.
My father lived his entire life within a few miles of the ND town where he was born. This was not unusual for his generation and characteristic of the stability of prairie communities. Leo Gross (96) of Napoleon lived a similar life in Lawrence Welk Country, never living more than a few miles from the place he was born. Not so for his children, one son lives in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Gross’ life and 69-year marriage were built around the Catholic church. After retiring from farming he held various part-time jobs in Napoleon and provided many hours of musical entertainment for the community. I’m betting it was an accordion.
Some years ago, I visited a relative in a New Rockford nursing home. A sturdy woman in riding gear clumped down the hallway. She was visiting her husband. We talked for awhile and I could tell she had led an interesting life. At the time she was running a farm and training horses near the New Rockford canal. Frances Estelle Hitz (95) died last week -- she was one of the first women to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps. Previously, she was a school teacher, later, a choir director.
Writer, speaker and Bismarck Tribune columnist Clay Jenkinson occasionally tackles the state’s big issues, but most of his columns are narratives about daily life. The columns are often written as he travels and about those travels. You get the impression that many of his columns arrive wirelessly at the Tribune shortly before deadline, and a few a bit later. The columns include descriptions of roadside sights on the Great Plains, outdoor experiences, domestic conferences and a few exotic foreign destinations. Jenkinson has found a way to pursue a host of activities and convert them into weekly columns while on the run.
What are Nodaks talking about? Well, for one thing, the shaming of fatties. A Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota TV ad takes aim at the food choices of fat people and their children. On a different note, Fargoans are buzzing about a new cable TV show to be based on the movie “Fargo” and produced by Joel and Ethan Coen. You betcha -- there could be more shaming. Across the state, Williston fans of “The Big Iron Kitchen” are concerned about an ordinance which will restrict food trucks. Big Iron has delicacies like a 15-inch sausage topped with grilled onions called the “Hillbilly Homewrecker” and a yummy pork sandwich called the “Heart Attack.” BCBS may want to look into this.
Russell Means is identified with South Dakota Indian reservations, although he grew up in the SF Bay Area and spent considerable time in Hollywood. To his supporters he was a tribal patriot, and a heroic, dedicated advocate of Indian rights. To his detractors, he was an agitator and convicted thug. Despite his prominence, his life held few successes. Some might credit him with one small success -- helping defeat the “Fighting Sioux” nickname. Means (72) died this week of untreated cancer.