Letter to the Editor: Ness’ op-ed filled with deception

By Shelly Ventsch, New Town
If anyone read Ron Ness’ recent op-ed on spills, it would be wise to remember he is a defender of the oil industry, not a representative of reality. His listed “statistics” are deceiving.
The regular person’s viewpoint and/or interpretation is this:

  • His quote on low percentage of fluids released is useless unless the amount spilled is spread out over the entire oil-producing land area. But it’s not. The reality is spills are concentrated on a specific area so his “mere half of one cup” can actually be thousands or millions of barrels at one location.
  • The industry should not need a pat on the back and media attention when a cleanup is completed. Completing a required action shouldn’t be news. If a spill doesn’t reach water, the state Department of Health reports it as “no environmental damage.” That, in itself, is 100 percent misleading.
  • Lowering fines assures companies that North Dakota regulations don’t mean a whole lot and a little carelessness and cutting corners can be afforded, thus “enabling” poor practices which lead to spills. But the state is also at fault for allowing years of no pipeline inspections, no records of pipeline locations and lack of monitoring systems.
  • Ness writes that North Dakotans have always worked together, not against each other. One only needs to attend a legislative committee hearing or an Industrial Commission meeting to see how false that is. The split was usually partisan — Democrats voted for the residents, Republicans voted for the out-of-state oil industry.
  • The “collaborative spirit” to which Ness refers really means the landowners/lifelong residents agree to get out of industry’s way, while “to advance this great state” means contamination and destruction will be allowed, but downplayed, to keep alive the state agencies’/oil industry’s shady love affair.

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