Friday, August 28, 2015
Sunday, June 7, 2015
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Why Are Unions Protesting Walmart Again? Is It Because Five Million Americans Applied For 500,000 Union-Free Jobs?
Three days before unions protest at Walmarts across the country, Diana Furchtgott-Roth makes an interesting observation:
Sunday, November 10, 2013
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
The push-back from coal states will come today as coal miners descend on Washington for a“Count on Coal” rally at the Capital. Thousands are expected to participate. Meanwhile, coal state representatives – including a few Democrats – are sending letters to President Obama and EPA officials calling the new regulations “job killers.” There’s a bit of dissent elsewhere as well. Elias Hinckley, writing on The Energy Collective, points out that investing in power plants is a long-term project and the uncertain environment endangers the coal industry. Peter Glaser, an energy and environment attorney in Washington, writing in The Hill, points out that the EPA may be getting a little ahead of the technology by making everyithing but carbon capture-and-storage illegal. And the Minot Daily News says EPA may be doing more harm than good. Meanwhile, EPA officials embarked on a victory lap around the country this week, visiting 11 major cities to get feedback on its new campaign – but carefully avoiding coal country in the process.
GOOD THINGS COMING IN NORTH DAKOTA?
The revelation that flaring of gas in the Bakken has moved the United States back up in the top ranks of gas wasters has been a recent embarrassment. But William Tucker, on Fuel Freedom, finds that good things may be in the works. A lawsuit filed last week by property owners claiming that they are losing royalties may prove a spur to getting the oil drillers to act. Moreover, there appears to be new technology coming down the line. “Gas Technologies, a Michigan company, has just developed a conversion device that sits on the back of a trailer and can be hauled from well to well. ‘We have a patented process that reduces capital costs up to 70%,’ said CEO Walter Breidenstein. ‘If we’re using free flare gas, we can reduce the cost of producing methanol another 40-5%.’ Other companies are working on similar technologies for converting natural gas to methanol on-site. . . . Of course, Walter Breidenstein will probably find that flared gas will not be offered for free. Those Bakken property owners still want their royalties. But the North Dakota lawsuit proves a spur for on-site methanol conversion and great opportunity to highlight the role methanol could play in our transportation economy.”You know what they say, every crisis presents an opportunity.
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
FARGO – The Obama administration asked North Dakota’s largest health insurer not to publicize how many people have signed up for health insurance through a new online exchange, a company official says.
During a Monday forum in Fargo for people interested in signing up for coverage via the exchange, James Nichol of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota told the crowd his company received the request from the federal government earlier Monday. Nichol is a consumer sales manager for the company.
Still, a spokeswoman from Blue Cross Blue Shield says about 14 North Dakotans have signed up for coverage since the federal exchange went live Oct. 1. That brings total statewide enrollment to 20 – less than one a day.
Spokeswoman Andrea Dinneen said Tuesday that while Blue Cross generally does not release its internal sales numbers, it has in this case because the problematic rollout of the federal health care exchange is a “unique situation.”
Dinneen said she didn’t have any information about the directive that Nichol referenced Monday night.
An official from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, one of the main the federal agencies handling the federal marketplace, would not directly address questions about the request made of Blue Cross Blue Shield, including whether other insurers were also asked to keep quiet about enrollment.
Representatives from the two other North Dakota companies offering coverage on the federal exchange – Medica and Sanford Health – said they had not received similar directions.
A handful of counties in North Dakota are churning out more oil and gas than the entire state of Alaska. Welcome to the Bakken, the jewel of The Rough Rider State.
But a look beyond the drillers working the state's Bakken field reveals many players who see another opportunity: building North Dakota's infrastructure.
In May, environmental nonprofit group Ceres released a report that drillers in the Bakken are flaring—or burning off—more than $100 million in natural gas a month. That's nearly one-third of all the gas drilled in the region, and it's a figure that has tripled in the past three years. The practice is so prolific that NASA says astronauts can see the region's flares from space.
(Read more: Good news: Gas prices are falling)
The problem? While drilling in the Bakken has increased the nation's supply of natural gas, the buildout of the pipelines that transport it has not been able to keep up. Drillers with a glut of gas are left with two options: release their excess supply into the atmosphere untreated or burn it off. They typically choose the latter.
It's not an option that the drillers like. Burning product is essentially burning money. Last week, North Dakota's mineral rights holders launched a series of class action lawsuits against the state's biggest drillers over the lost revenue.
Some pipeline builders have sensed an opportunity. Earlier this month, Energy Transfer Equity agreed to buy PVR Partners for $3.8 billion, while Crestwood Midstream announced a $750 million deal to buy privately held Arrow Midstream Holdings. Crestwood will become one of the biggest processors in the Bakken after the deal.
Saturday, October 19, 2013
In 2005, the Williston Police Department in Williston, North Dakota, received 3,796 calls for service. By 2009, the number of yearly calls had almost doubled, to 6,089. In 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, the Williston P.D. received 15,954 calls for service.
Williston is in the Bakken region of North Dakota, whose oil and gas reserves have attracted thousands of out-of-state oil workers. And Williston hasn't even seen the worst of it. The police department in nearby Watford City received 41 service calls in 2006. In 2011 they received 3,938. That's life in an energy boomtown.
"Policing the Patch," a new study issued by the Department of Criminal Justice & Political Science at North Dakota State University, sheds new light on the problems faced in these boomtowns. Between October 2012 and March 2013, professor Carol A. Archbold and her team interviewed 101 law enforcement officers from eight agencies about how the in-migration of oil workers to the Bakken region has changed the way they do their jobs. The team's findings tell us a lot about the problems created when cities and towns grow at an explosive rate.
The issues officers shared with Archbold ranged from a dramatic increase in alcohol-related violence ("Ninety percent of the problems we deal with involve alcohol," one officer said), to an inability to balance emergency calls with proactive community policing ("I used to know people. I used to know their vehicles. I no longer know people or their vehicles," said another officer.) Here are some of the biggest problems police shared with Archbold.
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Everyone has heard stories about the shale-oil boom towns that are transforming North Dakota, for better and worse. "Man camps" for oil-field workers, jobs for anyone who can work a rig or drive a truck, social distortionslike those of the Klondike. You know the stories, and the town of Williston ND (where we've not yet visited, but plan to), with the orange dot in the upper left-hand corner of the map above, is a frequent dateline for them.
Have you ever stopped to wonder why you don't hear these stories about South Dakota? The map at the top offers a clue. It shows "shale plays," or active and prospective shale-gas mining areas, as defined by the U.S. Department of Energy. A little tongue of the Gammon Play laps into South Dakota, versus the huge Bakken Play that is spread over North Dakota.
The map shows a larger view of shale basins, with potentially exploitable reserves, in the plains states. South Dakota includes almost none of the Williston Basin (pink) to the north, the Powder River Basin (tan) to the west, or the Denver Basin (a poppyish color) to the south.
So how, then, can South Dakota be any kind of boom state on a par with North Dakota? Especially the state's most populous city, Sioux Falls, which is in the far southeastern corner of the state (green pin) and much closer to Iowa and Minnesota than to any point in North Dakota?
What my wife and I have seen in Sioux Falls this summer, and will try to itemize, is a combination of ingredients that have together produced a genuine economic strength quite different from a shale-oil boom and potentially more instructive for the country as a whole. The unemployment rate in greater Sioux Falls now is around 3.5% -- about the average for the state as a whole. (That give South Dakota overall the second-lowest unemployment rate in the country. For number one, you could go to the BLS site -- or just take a wild guess, based on the maps above.) Our Marketplace partners kicked off a series of coverage of the Sioux Falls economy last week.
Monday, August 26, 2013
Good question because North Dakota, which produced an eye-popping 800,000 bbls of oil last month, has now become the second largest oil producing state behind Texas.
And it's all happened without much help from the federal government.
Why should Obama visit?
Via: American ThinkerThis energy boom is producing clear benefits, for North Dakota, which has the lowest unemployment rate in the country, and for the rest of America, which is importing the fewest barrels of oil since the mid-1990s and getting closer than ever to the elusive goal of energy independence."I would encourage him to go out," said former Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., who campaigned with Obama in the state in 2008. "You've got to see it to believe it. It's a big boost to our economy and also a big boost to our nation's energy policy."Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., is planning to visit the region in September, and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell toured the oil fields earlier this month. While notable, these visits don't carry with them the power and significance of a presidential trip."He's got an incredibly busy travel schedule, and it's not something we've spoken about," Jewell said. "The president relies on me and other members of his Cabinet to be his eyes and ears on the ground where development is taking place."Jewell said she and Obama have so far only talked at "a high level about a commitment to an all-of-the-above energy strategy about reducing our dependence on foreign oil," Jewell said. "But, I haven't had a conversation with him about the Bakken. I know his advisers close with him are keenly aware of it."
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