We Have to Know the Answers – LTE by DRC member Karin Knudsen

We Have to Know the Answers

By: Karin Knudsen, Powers Lake, ND

A little over one hundred years ago a small group of Norwegian immigrant families arrived in northwest North Dakota seeking a better way of life and a place where they could build a community.  They settled in Powers Lake.  Over the next century the town sometimes thrived, and sometimes simply endured, but the community that those families built remained solid.  Historically, people have moved here specifically for the way of life that we have enjoyed.
Now this historic and unique town is threatened.  Of course, growth and progress happen – that is the nature of all things, and it’s healthy as well as inevitable.  But now the very landscape is threatened; the air quality is threatened; the lake is threatened; the hunting, fishing and camping is threatened; our quality of life is threatened.
The things that we complain about happening in neighboring towns like Stanley and Tioga are going to happen here: increased traffic resulting in bad roads, traffic congestion, almost constant road construction, noise and air pollution and, worse, fatalities; our children won’t be safe playing outside unsupervised.  Small towns like Epping and Ross already have been ruined.  A dark haze hangs in the sky to the south.
It is imperative that we citizens make ourselves aware of all of the aspects of rezoning land from residential to industrial and having an oil transport facility too close to our school and town.
Powers Lake Trading and Transport has not done due diligence in approaching property owners farther out of town for a site to reduce the risk to our residents and water sources.  They have not provided specifics for their emergency response and contingency plans in case of an incident.
Also, there are no written agreements to ensure that the grain elevator will get adequate use of the railway, or that if changes are made to the main rail the elevator will not have to pay for the changes to the connector.
The company is only two months old and is a development company, so this will not be their long term project.  We do not know what operators will take over after they abandon the project.
The proposed facility is half a mile from the school, city wells and aquifers.  Looking at previous train derailments, we know that this is within a critical area of impact and will be of grave danger to the people in the school, nearby residences and local businesses.
To protect our quality of life, our landscape, and our heritage, we have to not just ask questions, we have to know the answers.

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