Better state regulation, enforcement needed on oil spills

Meridian Energy recently announced they are still moving ahead with their plans for the refinery they want to locate on the edge of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The company says everything is peachy and the refinery won’t even be noticeable.

This goes against common sense. But today, in North Dakota, that’s not unusual.

Toxic oil industry spills on North Dakota farmland and by our water have become routine. Earlier this year, North Dakota farmer Daryl Peterson testified to Congress about the many years of soil destroying spills on his farmland. He said North Dakota officials have “minimized the impacts, rather than holding the oil companies accountable.”

Now, last week, competing for top billing in state energy news, is the report that unknown millions of gallons of natural gas product spilled at an Oneok plant in western North Dakota. Oneok and current state officials listed this as a simple 10 gallon spill. And, in a significant slap in the face to North Dakotans, that spill happened in 2015, but officials never informed the public about how immense this disaster was.

Still, it appears industry and current officials think we’re supposed to believe them when they tell us not to worry. They claim: Our incredible national park isn’t threatened. Nothing could ever go wrong with an oil pipeline carrying over a million barrels per day under the Missouri River. We have too many regulations. Let the industry do their job. They’ll clean up any problems.

After years of never-ending spills, hiding things from citizens, and much more, state officials are still saying “trust us.” Not anymore. We should be able to have oil development without so much of the place getting damaged in the process. It’s not all or nothing. We need to insist on a better way.

Don Morrison

Bismarck, North Dakota

Don Morrison

Bismarck, North Dakota 

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