Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Records of Decision

So far I can find nothing regarding the Records of Decision in the Federal Register.

Record of Decision for the USDA USFS can be found on this page as well as other associated documents.


Senator Hoeven has announced the Record of Decision for USDA RUS, but they apparently haven't yet shared it with the public. This is the link to all project associated documents on the RUS website.


It seems appropriate to mark the day of the transmission line approval with two quotes from two significant figures in US history who had both been at the Killdeer Mountains.
“They claim this mother of ours, the earth, for their own and fence their neighbors away; they deface her with their buildings and their refuse. That nation is like a spring freshet that overruns its banks and destroys all who are in its path. We cannot dwell side by side.” 
― Sitting Bull

“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children's children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.” 
― Theodore Roosevelt

Monday, September 15, 2014

Record of Decision for Basin Transmission Line Follows Hoeven Effort to Bring Parties Together in March New Line Will Bring More Power to Western North Dakota Communities

Sep 15 2014

Record of Decision for Basin Transmission Line Follows Hoeven Effort to Bring Parties Together in March

New Line Will Bring More Power to Western North Dakota Communities

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today said the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Utilities Service (RUS) has signed the record of decision (ROD) enabling Basin Electric Power Cooperative to begin construction on multiple transmission lines in western North Dakota. The ROD was issued by RUS on Sept. 13.
The decision comes following a meeting Hoeven organized in March to bring together Basin Electric Power Cooperative, Rural Utility Service, Forest Service, Central Power Cooperative and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service leaders to help resolve transmission line routing disputes in order to bring more critical power online in western North Dakota. The meeting helped Basin Electric and RUS work through issues concerning the ROD.
This ROD, coupled with other permits previously issued, will bring more power online in western North Dakota by enabling Basin Electric Power Cooperative to begin construction on the Antelope Valley Station (AVS) to Judson transmission line as well as the AVS, Charlie Creek and Judson substations.
“This decision moves Basin’s transmission line project forward and helps our state’s ongoing work to create jobs, grow our economy and develop more energy for North Dakota and the nation,” Hoeven said. “Transmission line projects like this help to build necessary critical infrastructure.”
Hoeven is a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

Basin Electric gets approval for delayed transmission line

Basin Electric gets approval for delayed transmission line

Basin Electric Power Cooperative has received federal approval to construct a 200-mile power transmission line in western North Dakota.
The power line, which will start at the cooperative’s Antelope Valley Station and end in Tioga, recently went through the federal approval process and public comment periods for sections of the line on federal land. Basin Electric hopes to complete the transmission project by 2017.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service and the U.S. Forest Service have both signed records of decision. Approval is still needed from the Western Area Power Administration and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers but construction can start in areas outside of the two remaining agencies’ jurisdiction.
The cooperative first announced the project in 2011 as to address increased demand in the region. In 2013, a group called the Killdeer Mountain Alliance raised concerns over the transmission line’s proximity to the historic Killdeer Mountain Battlefield.
Mary Miller, a spokeswoman for Basin Electric, said the group’s concerns were taken into account during the federal public comment period. The transmission line was approved before a two-year National Park Service study of five historic battlefields, including Killdeer Mountain, could be completed.
“The approval of this line is a significant step forward in serving the tremendous growth in the Williston Basin and beyond,” Paul Sukut, Basin Electric chief executive officer, said in a statement.
The portion of the line from Charlie Creek Substation west of Beulah to the Antelope Valley Station will be the first constructed, Miller said.
In addition to the 345-kilovolt transmission lines, two new substations and modifications to three existing substations are among other facilities included in the project, Miller said.
“Transmission line projects like this help to build necessary critical infrastructure,” Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said in a statement.
Basin Electric also announced other plans for expanding capacity in western North Dakota Monday. The cooperative predicts the need for an additional 1,800 megawatts of power generation capacity by 2035 and is expanding its natural gas fired power stations to meet it.
The Basin Electric board of directors approved a third phase for the Lonesome Creek Station west of Watford City and Pioneer Generation Station northwest of Williston. The two natural gas powered stations are used during peak hours of electricity use.
Lonesome Creek Station will be expanded to include three more 45-megawatt natural gas turbines. The stations first unit started operation on Dec. 1, 2013. Two other units are under construction and set for completion this year. The expansion will bring the station to six units total.
Pioneer Station’s expansion will add 112 megawatts of additional peaking capacity. Pioneer Station Unit 1 started operation in Sept. 2013, the second unit started Feb. 1 and Unit 3 started March 1. The third phase will bring total generation at the state to 247 megawatts.
Construction of the third phases are slated for late spring 2015 and should be completed by June 2016.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

For Immediate Release: July 26 All-Day Family-Friendly Event in Dunn Center Commemorates Killdeer Mountain History and Conflict of 1864 (Dunn Center, ND)

Dunn County Historical Society & Museum / 153 Museum Trail, Dunn Center, ND / PO Box 145, Killdeer, ND 58640dunncountymuseum@ndsupernet.com / www.dunncountymuseum.org

Contact: Jennifer Strange 541-944-4131/jlstrange@hotmail.com


For Immediate Release: July 26 All-Day Family-Friendly Event in Dunn Center

Commemorates Killdeer Mountain History and Conflict of 1864 

(Dunn Center, ND) –Learning activities for all ages, a panel discussion and a noon roast bison banquet will be featured at the Dunn County Historical Museum in Dunn Center on Saturday, July 26. “150 Years Later: Commemorating the Killdeer Mountain Conflict” is sponsored by the Dunn County Historical Society & Museum. Co-sponsors are the State Historical Society of North Dakota and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.


All activities are open to the public and free of charge, with donations appreciated. 


The Killdeer Mountain Battle, which took place on July 28, 1864, was one of five Dakota Territory Civil War conflicts. "On that date, General Alfred Sully led U.S. Army troops against a gathering of Teton, Yanktonai and Dakota Indians in retribution for earlier, unrelated battles that happened in other parts of the Northern Plains," said program coordinator Jennifer Strange. “The Killdeer Mountain conflict changed the course of the people and history of the region.”


The commemoration will focus on education, equality, inclusion and mutual respect across cultures. "Everyone will feel welcome," said Deb Lancaster, event co-planner and Dunn County Historical Society Oral Historian. "Here’s something that happened right in our back yard and a lot of people don’t really know much about it."


The conflict plays in important role in Dakotans' shared history, said Diane Rogness, Historic Sites Manager of the State Historical Society of North Dakota. “For many, the conflict seems a long time ago. But for the Dakota or Sioux people, the story is still fresh. They have heard their grandparents speak of the battle and the soldiers."


July 26 Schedule—Dunn County Museum Grounds, 153 Museum Trail, Dunn Center


· 9am MDT (10 am CST) - Welcome and Continental Breakfast

· 10am MDT (11 am CST) - Flag-raising Ceremony

· 10:30 am MDT (11:30 am CST) - Panel: “The History and Spirit of Killdeer Mountain”

· Noon MDT (1 pm CST) - Roast Bison Banquet

· 1:30 pm MDT (2:30 pm CST) - Educational Fair

· 4:30 pm MDT (5:30 pm CST) - Flag-lowering Ceremony


Panelists will discuss the Civil War-era battle and the broader history of the Killdeer Mountains from Native American, U.S. Military and settler perspectives. Panelists include Rogness, Fort Yates Tribal Historian LaDonna Brave Bull Allard and Dean Pearson, board member of Prairie Trails Regional Museum. 


The Educational Fair will include a KidZone with Native American games, crafts, and tipi setup; Tipi Storytelling; a Civil War campsite; flintknapping demonstrations; a Dunn County Writers workshop/open mic; narrative sketching lessons for all ages and a Veterans’ table.


Nathan Good Iron and two other Standing Rock Sioux Veterans will raise and lower the flag, oversee the Veterans Table and join in the Tipi StorytellingGood Iron is a member of the state’s only four-generation family of military veterans. His story has appeared in The Washington Post and other publications. 


Event Supporters: Hinrich’s SuperValu, Ardent Services LLC, Quality Mat Company, United Tribes Technical College, SM Fencing & Energy Services, Inc., North Dakota Humanities Council, North Dakota Humanities Council. Friends of the Event: Sample Auto Sales, First International Bank & Trust, Dakota Community Bank, EconoFoods. Thanks also to Wrenches R Us Truck Repair, Southwest Business Machines, Nana Lil’s, Larry Pavlenko & Sons, Killdeer Mountain Manufacturing, Baker Boy, Knife River Indian Villages, Jerry Banks, City of Dunn Center. 


For a full schedule of the free public event:www.dunncountymuseum.org.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Section 106 Consultation Meeting Transcript

Section 106


"There are only 383 of these battlefields that the Park Service has mapped to this extent, and that's out of a universe of over 15,000 engagements of the Civil War. So you might consider it the top maybe 3 percent of the nation."
"... I hope, currently available to everybody, is our most conservative map of what we feel the entire extent of the battlefield is, which is the study area; where the bloodiest conflict was in the core areas, but there's conflict in the entire study area. It's just where the core is is considered the heaviest conflict, and it gives our preservation partners someplace to begin where they're thinking about buying or preserving land with easements or purchases. So it's a priority one of the high priority, if you will."
"Those maps that were drafted nationwide were sent out to partners who asked to be part of the process, but especially out to all the SHPOs in the nation. They all had an opportunity to look over these maps and help us refine them to the best of their abilities. If they had other partners they could recommend to help us get those maps down as accurately as possible, they would recommend it. And we spent some years, actually, working together to try and get the info out as accurately as possible."
Kris McMasters of the ABPP, NPS


Antelope Valley Station to Neset Transmission Project, Mercer, Dunn, Billngs, Williams, McKenzie, and Mountrail Counties, North Dakota

USDA Rural Utilities Service issued a Final EIS that evaluates the environmental impacts of constructing, operating,
and maintaining a proposed transmission line and associated facilities in western North Dakota. DOE's Western Area
Power Administration, a cooperating agency, would modify its existing Williston Substation to allow a connection of the
proposed new transmission line to Western's transmission system.  
Project information is available at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/UWP-AVS-Neset.html

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Dunn County says battlefield study too big

Dunn County says battlefield study too big

March 20, 2014 11:29 pm  •  
KILLDEER, N.D. — The Dunn County Commission said it can't support a study of the Killdeer Mountain Battlefield in its present wide-angled scope, but left the door open for one on a smaller scale.
The study under the National Park Service's American Battlefield Protection Program sets out a 17,000-acre area to be investigated for how and where the Civil War-era battle occurred. The study is being conducted now and over the next 18 months by the North Dakota State University Center for Heritage Renewal.
Dunn County Commissioner Daryl Dukart said he made the motion Wednesday to get the county in front of any potential impact to its ability to develop roads or do other public work in the study area.
Center Director Tom Isern said the county's alarm is "quite unwarranted." He said the study will only provide a detailed scholarly accounting of "what happened and where. That's it."
Whether the battlefield area or some portion of it was to be nominated to the National Register of Historic Places would be up to the National Park Service and only with support from private landowners, Isern said.
He said the Killdeer Mountain engagement of Plains Indians and the U.S. Army in 1864 was the largest military engagement on the Northern Plains. The National Park Service protection program has listed it as the era's most at-risk battlefield, mainly because of encroaching oil development.
The study is already funded and underway, and Isern said the county's support or lack of it is not necessary to its success.
Dukart said the county's action didn’t close the door to future considerations. "Tom (Isern's) got a right to defend what he's done … but don't try to propose 17,000 acres. I'm not against a very much smaller version of this," he said.
Isern said the battlefield study has become entangled with Basin Electric Power Cooperative's plans to build a new 345-kilovolt transmission line through the battlefield study area.
The planned line from Basin's Antelope Valley Station near Beulah to the oil patch region is under environmental review by the federal Rural Utilities Service and the state Public Service Commission.
Isern said Killdeer Mountain landowners who oppose the study already have been paid for transmission line easements.
Basin has said it is out its easement investment if the route through the battlefield is rejected.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Dunn County opposes Killdeer battlefield study; landowner accuses NDSU professor of incorrectly filling out grant

Published March 20, 2014, 09:08 PM

Dunn County opposes Killdeer battlefield study; landowner accuses NDSU professor of incorrectly filling out grant

MANNING, N.D. – The Dunn County Commission does not support North Dakota State University’s Killdeer Mountain battlefield study as presented.
By: Katherine Lymn, Forum News Service, INFORUM

MANNING, N.D. – The Dunn County Commission does not support North Dakota State University’s Killdeer Mountain battlefield study as presented.
Commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday to reject the document, which outlines the significance of a battle between Native American tribes and a troop of U.S. Cavalry in 1868. The study came out in August, days before Basin Electric Power Cooperative was set to have a Public Service Commission hearing in Killdeer on a transmission line. The proposed project, which would carry electricity from Basin’s Antelope Valley Station near Beulah to parts of western North Dakota, would pass through the study area for the battlefield.
The study characterizes the battlefield as the most significant historic site in the state.
Craig Dvirnak, a landowner whose property surrounds the existing state historic battlefield site, visited the commission to update it on his fight against the study and the possible historical designation that could come out of it.
Dvirnak said every nearby landowner he’s talked to is also against the study. He also alleged that NDSU professor Tom Isern, who applied for a National Park Service grant to fund the study, which could place some of the land on the National Register of Historic Places, didn’t correctly fill out the application he used to get federal funding in August.
But Isern said in an interview that Dvirnak simply misunderstands what was required by the application, and misunderstands the extent of the study area.
“I’m afraid the Dvirnak brothers have been intentionally misrepresenting this study,” Isern said. “My interpretation is we followed the guidelines of the National Park Service’s program, and that’s why they funded the proposal.”
But Dvirnak said the grant application was supposed to include the names of all landowners in the project area and did not.
“I was born and raised here. I know everybody that is in this project area,” he said. “When I show this grant application to other neighbors or other landowners in this project area, they’re looking at this and they’re saying the same thing: ‘What is it with this guy?’ ”
While Dvirnak said there was no transparency about the study, Isern said the study was well-known long before now. The professor tried to reach out to Dvirnak but the landowner was verbally abusive, he said, so he stopped trying.
Isern also said that because the study’s purpose is to determine the exact boundaries of the battlefield, not all landowners would be listed in the application.
Dvirnak said he wants to shut down the study.
He told commissioners he has reached out to the FBI office in Bismarck. He said an FBI representative told him there’s a chance for legal action if the grant included fraudulent information, such as the wrong landowner names.
FBI regional spokesman Kyle Loven said he can’t confirm or deny whether an investigation is taking place. Dvirnak didn’t want to expand on the FBI’s involvement because it’s ongoing, he said.
The Public Service Commission has yet to release its decision on Basin Electric’s project.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Letter: Federal laws have effect on North Dakota power line

Letter: Federal laws have effect on North Dakota power line

Like many North Dakotans, we too would like to know who knew what and when about the extent and importance of the Killdeer Mountain Battlefield as this information relates to Basin Electric’s proposed Antelope Valley-to- Neset transmission line.
By: G. Edward Dickey, Dickinson, N.D., INFORUM
Like many North Dakotans, we too would like to know who knew what and when about the extent and importance of the Killdeer Mountain Battlefield as this information relates to Basin Electric’s proposed Antelope Valley-to- Neset transmission line.
We are concerned, however, that the current debate will distract from a more urgent concern – the legal requirements related to any project that requires government approval and desires federal subsidies. The proposed transmission line is such a project.
The laws in question are the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act.
The essence of these laws is that when our nation’s important historical, cultural, or ecological values are impacted by a development project, several alternatives must be developed and proposed, so that concerned government agencies can weigh benefits and costs of each alternative. The purpose of both laws is to ensure a final decision that is truly in the public interest, as opposed to only in the interest of the contractual parties.
The contractual parties in this case are the directly affected landowners and Basin Electric. Basin has bet on state and federal government approval of its plan and apparently already paid the landowners enough to cause most of them to accept the proposed transmission line route. This is not adequate reason for the plan to be approved, however.
Basin must develop and propose at least one alternative route that avoids these impacts, in order to better inform those who are charged by law to make decisions in the public interest. Without one or more such alternatives, it will be a long struggle to get this line constructed.

Dickey is with the Killdeer Mountain Alliance.


Industrial Commission: North Dakota will be an Energy Sacrifice Zone

Industrial Commission: North Dakota will be an Energy Sacrifice Zone

A few weeks ago I wrote here that I regarded the Special Places initiative as perhaps the most important moment of North Dakota history in my lifetime. This last week the North Dakota Industrial Commission voted unanimously to “approve” Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem’s proposal—but so stripped of its original intent as to be essentially pointless and meaningless. The original proposal (December 2013) would have designated a number of Special Places in western North Dakota and required oil companies to tiptoe around them as they extracted carbon from under both public and private land in their immediate vicinity. In its second generation (February 2014) the Initiative went from a proposed rule to a proposed process, thus seriously reducing its capacity to really protect anything. And now it has been stripped, at the Governor’s insistence, of any application to private land and private minerals.
I am by nature an optimist. But for the moment I am really deeply saddened to see the Industrial Commission throw its immense weight (as usual) behind the dynamics of wholesale development—drill, baby, drill—rather than take measured risks on behalf of the commonwealth values of North Dakota. The Industrial Commission has a constitutionally-mandated responsibility to create broad policy protocols for economic activity in North Dakota. In other words, the state government of North Dakota has the right and responsibility to set the terms of industrial engagement as we strip our countryside of its immense oil shale reserves. If Gov. Dalrymple and Ag Commissioner Doug Goehring had voted to adopt Attorney General Stenehjem’s proposal as he originally presented it, the oil industry and “landowner groups” would have howled, but they would have soon found a way to work with the new protocols, which would have affected only a tiny fraction of the oil properties in North Dakota. Even in its original form, the Initiative would not have prevented a single barrel of oil from being extracted from beneath our soil.
So what’s left after last week’s vote? A list of special places—still a very good thing, in my opinion, because the State of North Dakota has now gone on record as believing that there really are some extraordinary places worthy of special care. James Madison resisted the Bill of Rights at first (1787) because he thought it would be a mere “parchment guarantee.” He was wrong. The Bill of Rights has become a fundamental baseline American text around which we the people can rally when our natural rights are jeopardized. Think of the power of “invoking the fifth,” or demanding respect for “my first amendment rights” (or second). The Special Places List of 2014 gives the people who love the landscape of western North Dakota official permission to rally around more than a dozen extraordinarily beautiful and fragile places that need and deserve advocates.
The effective collapse of the Special Places initiative points to a deep problem of North Dakota life. If the Special Places were Mount Rushmore, the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone Falls, Monument Valley, Devils Tower, Half Dome, Mount Rainier, or Lake Tahoe, I believe even a pro-development Industrial Commission would find ways to protect their sanctity by setting special conditions for industrial activity on adjacent private properties. If our Special Places were as obviously spectacular as the ones listed above, the people of North Dakota (and throughout the United States) would be their champions and clamor for their protection. The simple truth is that most North Dakotans have never seen the Killdeer Mountains or Pretty Butte or even Little Missouri State Park. Most North Dakotans live well east of Bismarck (the 100th Meridian), and the closer you get to the Red River Valley, where the bulk of our population lives, the more North Dakotans lean into Minnesota. They look east not west. Their idea of a special place is Detroit Lakes.
North Dakota’s Special Places are not sublime in the Grand Teton sense of the term. Probably only a few dozen North Dakotans have been to all 18 of them. Most North Dakotans will acknowledge that the Badlands are pretty, but when they say “Badlands,” most North Dakotans are referencing what you see from the Painted Canyon overlook off Interstate 94, what you see from the Burning Hills Amphitheater, or (a couple of times in a lifetime) along the loop road in the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Most North Dakotans have never been to Bullion Butte and only a few thousand have every climbed it. White Butte, the highest point in North Dakota, at 3,506 feet, is hard to pinpoint as you hurtle along US 85 between Belfield and Bowman. It’s not even as impressive as its more traditional cousin Black Butte (on the other side of the highway), and it generally gets talked about by way of a flatlander’s smirk.
We North Dakotans undervalue the beauty of our landscapes, including our public lands. We compare our landscapes unfavorably with those of Colorado, Utah, and Montana, or the woods and lake country of Minnesota. For most of North Dakota’s policy makers, by which I mean the Industrial Commissioners, the state’s regulatory bureaucrats, and most members of the state legislature, the lands in question are something of an abstraction. The attitude of most North Dakotans is that there is not much special here, that the country west of the Missouri River is a vast and largely bleak empty quarter that should be damned grateful that it now finally has found a way to attract economic development. Matthew 6:1: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
I sincerely wonder how many of the Special Places our three Industrial Commissioners have visited. I don’t mean by flying over them in a plane or helicopter or driving past them en route to somewhere else in suit and tie. I mean get out of the car and spend some time in hiking boots. I know that Wayne Stenehjem ventured quietly to Bullion Butte when it became an issue before the Industrial Commission a year or so ago. That seems to me to be exemplary leadership. I wish the three commissioners would take a weeklong Special Places vacation, with no media and no neckties, camp out on the ground (no RVs) at Pretty Butte north of Marmarth, and climb White Butte on a hot July afternoon, to watch the thunderheads gather and rumble in from the west. I’d want them to have a picnic of baguettes and cheese within the perimeter of Theodore Roosevelt’s cabin site at the Elkhorn Ranch. Month after month the Industrial Commission sits in judgment of the future of North Dakota and yet they have been making profound decisions about places they know mostly from maps.
I hope everyone who is reading these words will go visit the Special Places between Easter and first snowfall. If you contact me (see below) I will give you tips about how to sequence your visit, and which ones you can legally climb. We need to build a broad protective constituency for the subtle magnificence of western North Dakota. Until you have been to the Elkhorn Ranch (no climbing required), you cannot, in my opinion, quite realize how much is at stake as we frack North Dakota.
(Clay Jenkinson is the Theodore Roosevelt Center scholar at Dickinson State University, as well as Distinguished Scholar of the Humanities at Bismarck State College and director of the Dakota Institute. Clay can be reached at Jeffysage@aol.com or through his website, Jeffersonhour.org.)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

PAUL SUKUT: Co-op takes care to protect battlefield

PAUL SUKUT: Co-op takes care to protect battlefield

BISMARCK — The Forum News Service story, “Professor claims historic value of power line path purposely ignored,” contains bold assertions by Tom Isern, historian-director of the Center for Cultural Heritage Renewal at North Dakota State University (Page C6, Feb. 9).
The story refers to Basin Electric’s proposed Antelope Valley Station-Neset transmission line, which would extend west from the Antelope Valley Station near Beulah, N.D., to Tioga, N.D.
The 278-mile line will address the significant demand for electricity in northwest North Dakota and improve reliability of the existing system, ultimately strengthening the infrastructure throughout the region.
Basin is a not-for-profit wholesale generation and transmission cooperative, which serves member cooperatives in the region. Those co-ops are on the front lines, working around the clock to serve this tremendous growth. As their power supplier, we have an obligation to serve our members, who in turn serve their consumers, whether they are residential, commercial or industrial.
At issue is the location of the line, which crosses an area that NDSU received a grant from the National Park Service to evaluate as a potential historical site in which a battle between the U.S. military and the Plains Indians took place in 1864.
While Basin was not made aware of this study until late August 2013, two years after work to site the line commenced, Kimball Banks of Metcalf Archaeological Consultants said a 2010 National Park Service report highlighting the battlefield’s importance and eligibility for preservation obligates him to conclude that the site already meets the criteria for preservation.
Banks’ responsibility was to identify areas within the line route that met criteria for being classified as avoidance or exclusion areas, including areas of cultural protection. With undefined and subjective boundaries, the proposed, expanded battlefield area did not, and still does not, meet requirements of Class 1 protection status.
Significant work, consideration and evaluation went into route selection. One of our first steps was to gather existing information from federal and state agencies. The search covered cultural, biological, socio-economics, land use information and other issues. Agencies responsible for managing their respective area of jurisdiction were contacted to identify areas of concern or special requirements a project may have to evaluate.
Additionally, Basin worked with 512 landowners resulting in more than 10,000 landowner contracts to determine support and input for the line location. We have a long history of solid relationships with our landowners and have great support for this project.
Throughout this time, Basin maintained close contact with members of the public and state, county and federal agencies, including the National Park Service. There were scoping meetings for agencies and members of the public and also a draft Environmental Impact Statement was issued and underwent a comment period and hearing.
At no time during these processes did any member of the public, state or federal agency bring up the battlefield study, much less request the area be avoided.
But since Basin became aware of this study area in August 2013, we have taken steps to preserve the history of the area, agreeing to the Historical Society of North Dakota’s request to move a proposed substation and committing to additional survey work to ensure no battlefield-related resources are directly impacted.
The story highlights a $1.3 million pledge from Touchstone Energy Cooperatives announced in 2008. Partnering in this donation is Basin Electric, the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives and some member-cooperatives.
One of the cooperative core principles is “Commitment to Community,” and we take seriously our support of community efforts to preserve history and help those in need. Our donation to the Heritage Center is one of many contributions we make in North Dakota and other states.
Isern’s assertion that the donation “might have muzzled the State Historical Society of North Dakota” indicates his lack of understanding of electric cooperatives, our values and integrity. Furthermore, it directly discredits the mission of the Historical Society with his absurd allegations that they can be bought off.
Basin Electric recognizes this situation respects all opinions and is working with regulating agencies to mitigate impacts, but we also need to meet our obligation to deliver power to our member-owners. While there is no doubt the landscape in northwest North Dakota has changed, our responsibility lies in serving our members with electricity, which is a lifeline. No one wins if the lights go out.
Sukut is interim CEO and general manager of Basin Electric Power Cooperative.