WEEKENDERS VIII

ATTENTION NORTH DAKOTA NEWS MEDIA. THE NORTH DAKOTA GAME AND FISH DEPARTMENT HAS PREPARED A REPORT ON THE IMPACTS OF OIL DEVELOPMENT ON WILDLIFE IN WESTERN NORTH DAKOTA. SOMEONE IN THE NORTH DAKOTA GOVERNOR’S OFFICE TOLD GAME AND FISH TO HIDE THE REPORT. IT GOT HIDDEN FOR SIX MONTHS. THEN IT GOT RELEASED, SORT OF, BUT ONLY TO PEOPLE WHO ASKED FOR IT. AND NO ACTION IS BEING TAKEN ON ITS RECOMMENDATIONS. ATTENTION NORTH DAKOTA NEWS MEDIA. WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO START WRITING ABOUT THIS?

Update On Hoeven’s (Dalrymple’s) Chief Of Staff

(Cross-posted from NorthDecoder.com)

Did you catch this little nugget in one of (last) weekend’s papers? (Someone pointed it out to me yesterday.)

In other news, (former Governor John Hoeven’s Chief of Staff Ron) Rauschenberger told Hoeven’s office Monday he will no longer be leaving the (new) governor’s office to work for them.

“We do so much work together,” Rauschenberger said of the two offices. “This will help keep smooth, cohesive operations.”

Bismarck Teabune

Yeah, right.

I’m sure Rauschenberger is passing up the opportunity to take a big pay increase while working in a high-level position in a U.S. Senator’s office because staying put will “keep smooth cohesive operations.” Because certainly there are no other people available who could serve as Dalrymple’s chief of staff who could do the job.

I’m pretty sure, too, Rauschenberger staying put doesn’t have anything to do with these folks — or the ones who know what’s going on — being concerned about the stink from the Game & Fish Oil & Gas Wildlife Impact report cover-up wafting through the room every time Rauschenberger walks by.

Stay tuned for the next news story about Rauschenberger retiring from state employment.

“I’ve decided I want to spend more time with my family for a little while. I also have some possible other business opportunities available to me,” he’ll say.

Shortly after that, he’ll go to work for an oil and gas company. “This opportunity is just one I couldn’t refuse.”

Either that, or they just want to wait and see if the story blows over; make sure no insiders at Game & Fish go public to talk about the report cover-up.

At least he’s only second in command in the Governor’s office for now.

(Originally posted at www.northdecoder.com)

Update On The Update On Hoeven’s (Dalrymple’s) Chief Of Staff

(or)

The Quarter-Million Dollar Mistake

As Chad points out in the post on his blog above, everyone pretty much agrees that it was indeed Ron Rauschenberger, the Governor’s Chief of Staff, who told Game and Fish Director Terry Steinwand last summer to put his study on the impacts of oil development on wildlife and its habitat on the shelf, never to be seen again. (By the way, am I the only one who liked the title “Commissioner” way better than “Director”? “Commissioner” evokes images of Russ Stewart and Dale Henager and Lloyd Jones—all three of whom would have had the balls to say “You’re going to have to fire me before I do that.”) Anyway, it’s beginning to look like a bad move on Rauschenberger’s part. He was tapped to be Hoeven’s U. S. Senate State Director. No more. A pretty costly difference. Because the difference in pay between being the Governor’s Chief of Staff and being a U.S. Senator’s State Director is somewhere between $35,000 and $40,000 a year.

Rauschenberger, as the current Governor’s Chief of Staff, is paid just under a hundred thousand dollars a year the last time I looked. Scott Stofferahn, Senator Kent Conrad’s State Director (the job on Hoeven‘s staff Rauschenberger was headed for), is paid about $140,000 a year, the last time I looked. Over the six year term of a U.S. Senator, that’s close to a quarter of a million dollars Rauschenberger is sacrificing by staying on in the Governor’s office instead of making the move to the Senate office. That’s a pretty high price to pay for “loyalty” to the state of North Dakota. Before becoming a part of the Governor’s staff, Rauschenberger was a clothing store owner in Kenmare, and a mover and shaker in the community. That’s where I met him and we became friends—we helped put together an event called “Goosefest” back in the 1980’s which I think is still being held each fall. Kenmare is not only in the heart of goose country, it’s also in the heart of oil country now. I don’t know if Rauschenberger still has family ties there, or if he or his family own mineral acres there, or not. If so, maybe he doesn’t need the money.

As for the report that he squashed, it’s been hard to find out if then-Governor Hoeven actually read it or not (if YOU haven’t read it yet, see the next paragraph). My guess is he didn’t, and the chief of staff was acting on his own. And because of that, Rauschenberger is a little too hot for Hoeven to touch right now. I could be wrong.  NorthDecoder could be wrong. Somebody in the Governor’s office reads these blogs. If we’re wrong, probably they’ll let us know so we can print what’s right.

Update On The Game And Fish Report

By now you have probably read the NorthDecoder.com coverage of the covered up Game and Fish Department report as well as the one I wrote last week. I am urging you to get a copy of the report and read it yourself. I got one for a friend last week just by calling and asking for it. The Game and Fish number is 328-6300. Warning: They’ll likely try to get you to take it by e-mail. Better you ask for a printed copy. Paul Schadewald, the Deputy Director, made arrangements for mine. This is way too big a report, with way too many charts and graphs, to try to read on a computer screen. Especially when your eyes are as old as mine. Plus, it’s hard to mark it up for future reference with a sharpie or highlighter on a computer screen. Hard on the screen too. They’ll let you pick up a copy out at Game and Fish, on the east end of the Expressway in Bismarck, or mail it to you. Once you’ve read it, a letter to Director Steinwand would be in order, asking him what he is doing to protect wildlife from the impacts of oil development. That was, after all, the whole reason for the study. It’s time he went to work on it. If he already has, he’ll likely write back to you and let you know what he’s up to. My letter is going in the mail this week. I’m serious. I hope you will read the report and send him a letter too.

By the way, I have two suggestions for Game and Fish:

  1. It’s probably time to remove the word DRAFT from every page now. It’s being circulated widely enough that it can be finalized.
  2. If you print the pages front to back, on both sides instead of only on one side like you printed mine, you’ll save a lot of paper and postage. You are, after all, our natural resources agency.

Update on Fracking

I attended the hearing held by the BLM (That’s a government acronym for Bureau of Land Management, but my Montana friends call it the Bureau of Leasing and Mining) on fracking last week. BLM is the federal agency in charge of monitoring mineral development on federal lands, including North Dakota’s million acre Little Missouri National Grasslands.  Officially it was called “Hydraulic Fracturing on Public Lands Forum.”  It was scheduled as a five-hour forum, and it lasted half an hour beyond that. BLM billed it as “part of an outreach program to stakeholders” for an in-depth technical review of fracking. Topics to be discussed, BLM said in its literature “will include disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing fluids” among other things. Well, there was discussion about disclosure, all right, but there was no disclosure. Industry officials steadfastly refuse to disclose what’s in their fracking “cocktail” and BLM doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to learn. We already know North Dakota’s oil and gas regulators don’t want to know. Remember this quote from Lynn Helms, North Dakota’s chief regulator: “We’d just bury ourselves in information doing the full disclosure thing. I don’t think people read ingredients on food they buy at the grocery store. This would just alarm people.”

Of significant note: Helms says we’re drilling 2,700 wells a year right now, and we’re on our way to having 26,000 oil wells in western North Dakota. What do you think 26,000 wells will do to our wildlife, if we don’t start looking out for the critters?

ATTENTION NORTH DAKOTA NEWS MEDIA. Oh, never mind.

On A Lighter Note.

Best Facebook/Twitter exchange of the week that I saw: Terri Finneman, Forum Reporter, reporting on the North Dakota Legislature on Facebook: “Abstinence (conference) committee still deadlocked. Will need a 7th meeting.”

Response from Facebook friend: “I’m beginning to think they just like getting together to talk about sex.”

P.S. I know, I know, this is called Weekenders and this is only the middle of the week. We had a technical glitch with our server last Friday and only got it fixed today. Sorry.

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