DRC in the News

January 29, 2014

North Dakota Reacts to Drilling Critics-The Wall Street Journal

North Dakotans have strongly backed oil drilling in their state, but attempts to drill wells near historic sites—including a ranch once used by Teddy Roosevelt—have sparked enough of an outcry that regulators are considering greater citizen input into how and where companies may operate.

January 10, 2014

Farm bill should protect farmers (Bismarck Tribune)-By member Link Reinhiller

December 1, 2013

Taking a stand on their sacred land (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

September 5, 2013

Judge: Public Service Commission did not violate federal law (Dickinson Press)

BISMARCK — A federal judge says a North Dakota conservation group failed to prove that state Public Service Commission policy changes on the coal industry were in violation of federal law or caused any harm.

The Dakota Resource Council, a Dickinson-based nonprofit conservation group, had filed a complaint in 2012.

July 19, 2013

Enviromental groups take oil waste concerns to state health officials (Dickinson Press)

BISMARCK – Two environmental groups say the amount of radioactive material around the Oil Patch is at a threatening level and only increasing as the state lags in enforcing environmental regulations.

The newly formed Energy Industry Waste Coalition and the Dakota Resource Council, a nonprofit, grassroots group, met with state health officials Thursday to express their concerns and hear what the state Department of Health is doing to beef up its enforcement.

July 17, 2013

Not here say McLean County: oil field waste pit denied on split vote (Bismarck Tribune)
WASHBURN, N.D. — Underwood farmer Gene Wirtz (DRC Member) said he felt like he was walking around in a dream after the McLean County Commission turned down a request from a power plant company to turn an unused fly ash pit into one for oil field waste.

July 16, 2013
ND County Says No To Energy Company Oil Well Waste
Protests were many, including concerns about dust, truck routes and water wells. Some say there are just too many unknowns regarding whether permitted waste radiation levels — relatively low now — might increase later.  “You’re buying this car without knowing anything about it,” says Darrell Dorgan.  “Accidents do happen.  It’s the same with that plant, that dump site.  Accidents do happen,” says Mic Johnson.

July 2, 2013
A Canadian pipeline company’s attempt to muffle noise by planting trees around a pump station in southeast North Dakota isn’t working and may have made things worse, neighbors say.
“I’m 72 years old and my hearing isn’t up to par anymore, but I can still hear those turbines,” Bill Keibke said.
Kiebke’s son, Joe, said the trees that were planted on three sides of the pump station are funneling noise directly at the home, creating an amphitheater effect.”When you hear the oscillating howl of those turbines, you just want to shake your head and pull your hair out,” Joe Kiebke said.

June 18, 2013
No oil waste decision by McLean County zoners
(Bismarck Tribune)
Gene Wirtz (DRC member), a member of the township board, said his board is solidly against the plan. He said the zoning board should look out for the health of its citizens, not the corporate well-being of a company.

“Why don’t they (Great River) haul it to Minnesota and put in their backyard and see how far they get in Minnesota?” he asked. Great River Energy is a distribution cooperative based in Minnesota with power plant production at the Coal Creek Stations.

June 9, 2013

Region’s farmers not confident in GMO safeguards (Billings Gazette)
Tests in neighboring North Dakota were just as vague, said Todd Leake (DRC member), who farms 1,000 acres of wheat near Emerado, N.D. Monsanto is now conducting new tests on genetically modified wheat in North Dakota under the same cloak of secrecy, Leake said. Inquirers are told the locations must remain a secret to prevent terrorism. Monsanto, which owns a Bozeman-based wheat development company, didn’t respond to a request for comment last week.

June 3, 2013
Ft. Ransom Landowners want Keystone Pipeline Pump Station Quieted
(ND Free Press)
“I moved to Ft. Ransom for the quiet and serenity of the Sheyenne River Valley, and now I live next to a pump station that makes a high pitched whine. The whine from the pump sounds like nails on a chalkboard,” said Pantzke
Pantzke and several other folks have joined Dakota Resource Council in an effort to create a community group that will work to quiet the pump station.

May 24, 2013
DRC Members Applaud New Country-of-origin Label Rules
(ND Free Press)
Stieglitz said, “Dakota Resource Council members are farmers, ranchers, and consumers. We have been longtime supporters of COOL labels and will continue to advocate for meaningful food labels that help consumers make informed choices at the grocery store.”

May 20, 2013
Coalition Seeks State’s Ear on Oilfield Concerns
(Minot Daily News)
“The state government just is not the job of enforcing the law” said Don Morrison, director of the Dakota Resource Council in Bismarck, “So then the next difficult point is, is that because the top is saying don’t challenge the oil companies or is it because they don’t have enough resources. The answer we are finding is most people would say both are true”

May 18, 2013
Feds argue coal industry can legally give to ND regulators’ campaigns
(Fargo Forum)
Lawyers for the Interior Department, the defendant in the lawsuit, and the Public Service Commission, an intervener in the case, said the contributions were made to the campaigns for Cramer and Kalk, not to the members themselves, and therefore were not improper. But the Sierra Club and Dakota Resource Council, in a brief filed this week, rejected that argument, and asserted that the indirect contributions are banned under federal law.

Radioactive waste on the radar: New group worried about improper disposal of oil field material (Dickinson Press)
Don Morrison, executive director of the Dakota Resource Council, which is also involved with the newly formed coalition, said the group is getting organized to make sure the public has input on policy changes the state would make about radioactive waste.The coalition will strongly oppose new sites for radioactive storage and increasing the level of radioactivity of material that can be kept in North Dakota, Morrison said.

Oil Field Waste Concerns (KMOT TV)
Gene Wirtz, Underwood resident and member of the newly created Energy Industry Waste Coalition, is concerned about the future of his town`s landfill. “They have this empty hole, and they need to fill it with something they think, and we`re really not in favor of what they`ve got in mind to fill it with”, said Wirtz.

May 1, 2013
DRC Hosts Landowners to Discuss “Hype About Pipe”(Mountrail County Promoter)
The Dakota Resource Council hosted a panel discussion and question and answer time for landowners at the Mountrail County Fair Building on Thursday, April 25. There were a number of landowners that turned out to listen to the stories of the panelists and then share their own stories or ask questions the oil development continues in northwestern North Dakota.

April 18, 2013
Dumping Opponents Gather
(New Town News)
(Darrell) Dorgan and Don Morrison of the Dakota Resource Council, gave an update about waste issues in the North Dakota Legislature. Dorgan said the group is planning on holding meetings across Western North Dakota to bring people together who want responsible development of oil field waste.

April 2, 2013

Rural residents make a plea for greater well setbacks from homes (Crosby Journal)
Kristen Mesker grew increasingly emotional as she told seven North Dakota senators that her worst fears about oil development are coming true.

“There will be no future here for our kids,” said the Powers Lake area farmer and rancher, wiping away tears as she testified before the Senate Natural Resources Committee about life among the wells.

March 18, 2013

DRC: House Votes Today on Making it Easier for Companies to Take Land (ND Free Press)
BISMARCK, ND — Landowners in North Dakota continue to speak out against a bill that would make it easier for oil, pipeline and electric companies to take their land by eminent domain for pipelines, energy facilities or power lines. The House of Representatives may vote on final passage of the bill today.

March 8, 2013

White Earth Resident Stop Oil Waste Site (KX News)
(Rose Person, Landowner) “When I did some research, I wasn’t satisfied with what I found out, I’m not saying the company isn’t competent. It’s just we’re very protective of our valley and where it was going to be, one wrong move could have contaminated a lot of people’s property.”

March 1, 2013

The New Oil Landscape (National Geographic)
While the Jorgensons’ fight to retain control of their bottomland, they’re already living with the intrusive consequences of drilling. Eight hundred feet from their house a Petro-Hunt pump jack runs day and night, with the attendant noise, traffic, and contamination risks. They had no say. North Dakota allows landowners to separate surface rights from mineral rights, and during hard times some have been tempted to sell or trade the latter—for, say, needed equipment, like a new tractor.

February 27, 2013

White Earth Happy Waste Dump Stopped (Minot Daily News)
“The people here came together,” she said. “You can’t say it was just one or two people. I think everybody put in the time that they could, the talent that they had.”The residents also worked with Dakota Resource Council and its Build a Better Bakken effort to make their opinions known.

February 7, 2013

North Dakota bill cuts exemption for wasting natural gas (AP)
Associated Press calls SB 2315: “arguably the toughest legislation to date aimed at curbing the oil industry’s practice of burning and wasting natural gas as an unwanted byproduct of oil production”

Effort to reduce flaring gets mixed reception (Bismarck Tribune)
Don Morrison with the Dakota Resource Council also testified in favor of SB2315. Morrison said the bill would help mineral rights owners not lose out on substantial amounts of money in royalty payments.

January 31, 2013
How Far Should Oil Wells Be From Homes
“The vibration from drilling is felt in your body, it’s right in your soul. It feels like you are at a concert when the bass is way too loud. Sometimes my ears just want to be held tight. It’s very unnerving.” DRC member Brenda Jorgenson

January 25, 2013
Landowners ask for greater well setback
(Williston Herald)
A release from the Dakota Resource Council named two of the landowners speaking in support of the bill as Frank Leppell of McKenzie County and Theodora Bird Bear of Mandaree. Both suggested the setback be moved to a quarter mile, or 1,320 feet, nearly double of what the bill already calls for.

January 24, 2013
Bill Heard Concerning Oil Well Distance From Homes (
“Hopefully the people in the committee and the legislature, I hope they take a good hard look at this. And get with the oil industry and say hey, come on, let us have a little common sense here. Let us respect the people that are here too,” said Frank Leppell, Landowner near Watford City.

December 12, 2012
Crime Accompanies Flow of Oil Workers into North Dakota (Earth Island Journal)

Despite the heightened worries about safety, North Dakota locals feel some compassion for the strangers even as they fear them. Mark Trechock served as executive director of the Dakota Resource Council before retiring in early 2012. A resident of the town of Dickinson since 1993, Trechock says the weakness of the economy brought many to the oil fields. They are attracted by relatively high wages, but on arrival find that the oil fields aren’t exactly paradise.

December 10, 2012
The End of Pasta
Author Mark Hetzgaard attended DRC’s annual meeting in October. Many of DRC’s members were used in this story detailing how the impact of the ND oil boom could spell the end of pasta as we know it today.

December 4, 2012

How the North Dakota fracking boom shook a family (The Guardian)
The Jorgenson family loved living on the prairie in North Dakota – until the shale gas boom started

December 3, 2012
Bombing North Dakota
(Earth Island Journal)
“Kuwait on the Prairie,” is how one headline writer described the Bakken. But not everyone is happy about the situation. Traveling across northwest North Dakota it is not difficult to find farmers, ranchers, and Native Americans who are outraged by what they are experiencing. Many North Dakotans view the oil rush as an assault on their communities and the places they love.

Shale Oil Boom in North Dakota is Impacting Native Americans Especially Hard (Earth Island Journal)
According to activists Walter and Lisa Deville and Theodora Bird Bear, lifelong residents of the reservation town of Mandaree, none of the oil money collected by either the tribe or the state of North Dakota comes back to their town. Mandaree is mostly poor: two-thirds of the population lives three families to a house.

November 13, 2o12
Curbside Recycling Petition Submitted to the Bismarck City Commission (KXnews)
Curbside recycling might soon be an option for those who live in Bismarck. At tonight’s Bismarck City Commission meeting, Karen Erickstad with the Missouri Valley Resources Council, submitted a petition with more than 620 signatures.

October 27, 2012
Oil Patch residents want voice in legislation
(Grand Forks Herald)
Residents in the epicenter of North Dakota’s oil development spoke about the impacts Saturday during the Dakota Resource Council’s annual meeting in Bismarck.

September 11, 2012
Group gathers curbside recycling petitions (Bismarck Tribune)
The Missouri Valley Resource Council has exceeded its 500-signature goal on a petition to support curbside recycling in Bismarck, but will collect more names until the signatures are submitted to the Bismarck City Commission on Sept. 25.

August 7, 2012
PBS News Hour August 7, 2012
As domestic oil production increases, towns like Williston, N.D., struggle to meet demand for workers, housing and improved infrastructure. For some communities experiencing the benefits of an energy boom, rapid expansion comes with serious trade-offs. Ray Suarez reports.

July 19

In North Dakota the Gritty Side of an Oil Boom (Front Page Washington Post!)
KEENE, N.D. — Donny Nelson is the epitome of old-time North Dakota. A lean, sharp-featured man sporting a thick goatee, jeans and dirty boots, Nelson is the grandson of homesteaders. Over the past century his family has collected 8,000 acres of prime cattle-grazing acreage and cropland.

But now Nelson has some unwanted company: oil prospectors.

July 8, 2012
Local Groups to host recycled art contest (Bismarck Tribune)
The Missouri Valley Resource Council and the Bismarck Downtown Art Cooperative will host a recycled art contest at Urban Harvest from 1 to 3 p.m. Thursday. The contest is intended to bring awareness about recycling and encourage the Bismarck City Commission to enact curbside recycling in Bismarck.

July 7, 2012
Landowners Say State Government Needs to Correct Pipeline Company Tactics(Prairie Independent)
“State government thinks we’re too sparely populated to matter. To them oil is more important than our livelihoods. We’re collateral damage. That’s it in a nutshell” -Scott Davis

June 27, 2012
Group Opposes Oil Waste Facility
(Bismarck Tribune)
“If any of those chemicals get into the water, this is going to impact a lot of people and a lot of people’s livelihoods” Nancy Evans

June 18, 2012
Pipeline Discussion (KXNews CBS)
“We had one go through last year and they had to go though three fence lines and the company did not fix the fence back up so you have to go through the extra labor to fix the fence” Steve Davis

May 30, 2012
DRC and Sierra Club sue PSC (KFYR-NBC)
“They (PSC Commissioners) are accepting campaign contributions from coal companies they are supposed to regulate” -Linda Weiss, Vice Chair

May 30, 2012
Environmental Groups File Lawsuit Involving PSC Members
Two North Dakota groups move forward with a lawsuit involving Public Service Commissioner’s Kevin Cramer, Brian Kalk and Tony Clark.The lawsuit contends that Cramer, Kalk and Clark have all accepted campaign contributions from companies they regulate.

May 30, 2012
North Dakota Public Service commissioners named in suit (Fargo Forum/Dickinson Press)
“Truth is, we probably would not even have filed these if there had been an ethics commission in place,” said Linda Weiss, vice-chair of the Dakota Resource Council.

May 30, 2012
Enviros sue Interior secy, ND PSC over coal rules (AP/Jamestown Sun/Bismarck Tribune)
Two environmental groups sued U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and the North Dakota Public Service Commission on Wednesday, arguing the federal agency has ignored illegal campaign contributions to the commission’s three Republican members.

May 21, 2012
Questions still remain regarding Pipeline spill
(Prairie Public Radio) 
Two Cogswell farmers have written a letter to the North Dakota Public Service Commission – raising questions about what operators of the Keystone oil pipeline are doing to insure safety.

April 12, 2012
ND Supreme Court affirms land reclamation deal (Business Week/AP)
The Dakota Resource Council, a Dickinson-based environmental group, argued that state law requires that all of the property be converted back to farmland, and that the Public Service Commission should have classified the 86 acres as agricultural land or wildlife habitat instead of as recreational land.

April 11, 2012
Groups Challenge PSC Commissioners’Bias (Praire Independent)
The 60-day notice letter, sent by Dakota Resource Council (DRC) and the Dacotah Chapter of the Sierra Club, seeks to compel the Office of Surface Mining (OSM) to enforce federal mining laws. The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) explicitly prohibits state PSC commissioners from accepting campaign contributions from anyone coming before the PSC for a permit.

April 5, 2012
Lawsuit lurks in background of House race
(Grand Forks Herald)
In their earlier races for public service commissioner, both Cramer and Kalk accepted campaign contributions from “parties with direct financial interests in the development of the South Heart mine,” according to Sierra Club and Dakota Resource Council documents. (The environmental groups are the ones who’ve announced plans to file the lawsuit.)

March 26, 2012
Large Turnout for Oil Development Public Meeting (Dakota Herald)
Thursday March 15, a packed Legion Hall in Lemmon heard from visitors from the North; visitors who have seen first hand what the oil business does to their community.

March 26, 2012
Groups Threaten Lawsuit Over PSC Campaign Contributions (Forum Communications)
The 60-day notice letter, sent by Dakota Resource Council (DRC) and the Dacotah Chapter of the Sierra Club, seeks to compel the Office of Surface Mining (OSM) to enforce federal mining laws. The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) explicitly prohibits state PSC commissioners from accepting campaign contributions from anyone coming before the PSC for a permit.

March 23, 2012
Are South Dakotans treading on edge of ‘oil boom’ (Lemmon Leader)
Speaker Holly Wadell, from Western Organization of Resource Councils said “Save the Family Farm and our Natural Resources” Wadell is involved with ‘grassroots’ as well as Dakota Rural Action with seven states affiliated in the movement. Five of those states include North and South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, and Oregon.

March 23, 2012
Experts: be ready before it arrives (Adams County Record)
Like a good boy scout, be prepared.
That was the gist of an informational meeting about the oil boom held thursday in Hetinger, hosted by Dakota Resource Council, Dakota Rural Action, Western Plains Action, and Western Organization of Resource Councils

March 5, 2012
Morrison Named DRC Executive Director (Forum Communications/Minot Daily News)
Board members were pleased with Morrison’s leadership of civic engagement efforts, as well as his experience in leadership development, organization development and fundraising, Chairman Verle Reinicke said in a news release.

February 25, 2012
DRC Director Retires (Dickinson Press)
Dakota Resource Council director Mark Trechock has spent 18 years helping people find solutions to community problems, particularly in the energy energy and agricultural community.

February 19, 2012
When oil, water collide
(Forum Communications)
Donald Nelson of Keene, spokesperson for the Dakota Resource Council, called the required disclosure “a step in the right direction” If people are going to test for fracking fluid contamination, they need to know what to test for; he said.

January 31, 2012
Environmental Group Seeks Stronger ND Oil Rules
(CBS/AP News)
Donald Nelson,
a Keene rancher and spokesman for the Dakota Resource Council, a Dickinson-based environmental group, said the new rules would continue allowing oil companies to dump liquid drilling waste in open pits if the well is less than 5,000 feet deep.

January 27, 2012
DRC: Stronger Oil Rules Needed
(New Town News/Minot Daily News)
New State oil and gas rules considered by the State Industrial Commission today should be stronger, especially on reserve pits, topsoil replacement and protection against saltwater spills to protect farmers and ranchers says DRC.

January 26, 2012
Response to pipeline decision (Prairie Independent)
Closer to home, Paul Mathews with the Dakota Resource Council said the President made the right decision to deny the pipeline application because of “legitimate concerns about the route” and “the company’s poor safety record.” The original Keystone pipeline is within 2,000 feet of Mathews’ house. He said the pipeline sprung more than a dozen leaks in the US during its first year of operation.

January 23, 2012
Mine Land to go back to crops (Bismarck Tribune)
Gene Wirtz, an Underwood farmer and member of the Dakota Resource Council, said he’s suspicious of Falkirk’s request because no money is being returned to the company, making it appear as if the bond was removed and applied to other mine areas.

April 25, 2011
DRC Appeals Coal Lake Decision (Bismarck Tribune)
The Dakota Resource Council
is asking a judge to decide if the Falkirk Mine Co. can retum 86 acres of the mine to recreational use rather than agriculture.

April 20, 2011
Forum on Fracking (KFYR NBC News)
“There is no reason for this mad dash, this oil is still going to be there”
-Donald Nelson

March 15, 2011
South Heart coal mine foes deliver protest to PSC (Bismarck Tribune)
Opponents of a proposed coal plant and electric power station near South Heart are letting the North Dakota Public Service Commission know where they stand.

March 15, 2011
DRC featured in news story about South Heart (KFYR-NBC News)
Linda Weiss of Belfield, speaks at the North Dakota Public Service Commission regarding the proposed South Heart Coal Mine.

March 8, 2011
DRC featured in TV news story regarding oil fires (KFYR-NBC News)
Marie Hoff of Bismarck, speaks regarding oil fires in Mackenzie County.

February 25, 2011
ND Group Pushes New Legislation to Add to Farm Bill
(NBC NEWS North Dakota)
“We must protect our ranching heritage here in North Dakota, so that we have strong rural economies, and healthy wholesome foods on our tables” –Link Reinhiller

March 2, 2011
Green groups call for more federal review of Keystone pipeline
(Bismarck Tribune)
The American public deserves to have good information about the environmental impact … and a chance to comment on it,” said Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, of the National Resources Defense Council, which along with the Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, Friends of the Earth, and the Western Organization of Resource Councils submitted the letter to the State Department last week.

March 2, 2011
Landowners’ Group Urges Reform of Federal Oil, Gas Bonding Program
(Minot Daily News)
A new report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on the Bureau of Land Management’s oil and gas bonding program confirms the program needs an overhaul says, Donald Nelson of Keene.

February 25, 2011
DRC acknowledges Surfaces Rights gains, warns of major loopholes
(New Town News)
In the final days before crossover, Dakota Resource Council (DRC) issues cautious reviews about potential legislation thought to protect landowners