Saturday, November 17, 2012

Parts of North Dakota can be saved

Published November 17, 2012, 12:00 AM

Letter: Parts of North Dakota can be saved

The economic boom that North Dakota is experiencing is at a cost.
We recently protested drilling on the Killdeer Mountains in front of the Industrial Commission.
The global view depicted in the dramatic aerial rig photos in the hearing room does not represent what takes place on the ground.

Our contributions to the hearing in October were limited due to lack of expert witnesses in the areas of topography, transportation, archeology, fire services and wildlife management. As local residents, we experienced a sense of fatigued frustration.

A lawyer for Hess Corp. asked that letters of support and testimony be disregarded as hearsay.
Expert witnesses from Hess Corp. were unable to answer basic questions brought forth by the Industrial Commission. They noted that the oil pad locations were selected due to serious topography issues and the selected placement would maximize the economic recovery, prevent waste, prevent unnecessary drilling and preserve the pristine environment.

These statements, however noble, are reiterated verbatim at the close of each proposal leading me to think they are lip service rather than real concern.

As non-experts, we can address the statement promised by the experts.

School Superintendent Gary Wilz, my husband and son identified serious topographic issues with the road.

The intersection is partially blind and the grade steep. The hazard would be multiplied by the dramatic increase in traffic with the proposed well sites for all travelers and especially for children waiting at this intersection for the bus.

Currently, staked sites would prevent easy access for fire control. The number and proposed sites would affect wildlife habitat. This school land is open to the public and would be irreparably altered.
Economic recovery was noted, but we asked the commission to consider local industry: ranching, farming, tourism, hunting as well as oil recovery as economic gain for North Dakota.

With alternate sites reviewed, our question to the board would be — who looks out for the interest of North Dakotans.

Conversations with Game and Fish, the Historical Society and legislators lead me to believe that we can save parts of North Dakota. Hopefully this protest creates a more collaborative decision-making policy and that this area would be considered worthy of further attention.

Lori Jepson, Killdeer