I know, it’s only Wednesday, but my friend Tweed is here, and we’re going hunting for a few days, so I thought I’d just put this up here today and then get out of Dodge.


Testing your memory:  Here’s a short story from High Country News, March 21, 1994 that you might find interesting, in light of Jack Dalrymple’s effort to kill the wilderness proposal in the North Dakota Bad Lands:

In a surprise move in late February (1994), North Dakota Gov. Ed Schafer endorsed portions of a Sierra Club plan to establish the state’s first ever federal wilderness areas. Although all of North Dakota’s major newspapers and many citizens groups have backed the wilderness plan, Schafer, a Republican, is the state’s first politician to sign on. Last year, the Sierra Club proposed creating 11 wilderness areas covering 191,000 acres, mostly in the rugged badlands in the western half of the state. Ranchers and the oil and gas industry vowed to kill the proposal, and warned the state’s congressional delegation not to get involved (HCN, 8/23/93). Schafer says that kind of polarization is unnecessary. His proposal – based on a technical study of the areas’ mineral and surface rights, land use and economics – supports wilderness for three large chunks of the badlands. In addition, Schafer urged the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to consider using land and mineral exchanges in order to eliminate conflicts between wilderness advocates and the oil and gas industry. “This is a great step forward,” says the Sierra Club’s Kirk Koepsel. “We are moving from the debate over whether wilderness is even appropriate to the debate over how much wilderness is appropriate.”

Ed was, and remains, serious about this. I’d kind of forgotten about it too, until he and I discussed it briefly a couple months ago. This was part of his “Vision 2020” for the North Dakota Bad Lands. Unfortunately, more than 17 years have passed and there is still no federal action on this proposal. And no federal/state land or mineral swaps have taken place. And then, along came an oil BOOM!, and we were caught unprepared for the pressure the oil industry would put on our land and our politicians. This proposal (Vision 2020) was Ed’s response to the “Badlands On The Brink” proposal of the early 1990’s, discussed here (more about that in a future article). We could use a little more Ed Schafer-style leadership in Bismarck right now.


Rick Berg sent out a press release on September 13, 2012, that said:
            “The Facts: Rick Berg does not own GOLDMARK Property Management, Inc. nor has he ever had a management, shareholding, invested interest or even employment with GOLDMARK Property Management, Inc.”

You can read the press release here.

Then, in October, Rick Berg’s business partners sent letters to the editor of the Grand Forks Herald, The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and the Bismarck Tribune, which read, in part:
“Recently our company, Goldmark Property Management, Inc., has been a focal point in a highly contested Senate race . . . The truth is that Berg had a minority ownership in our company 26 years ago but has not had ownership or policymaking influence in our company since 1986.” The letter was signed by Brad Williams, Kurt Bollman, and Dale Hellevang, with this note under their names: “Williams is president, Bollman is executive vice president and Hellevang is vice president of Goldmark Property Management.”  You can read the letter in the Tribune here. Then, in an October 11 letter to The Forum, a fellow named Greg Thompson wrote  “I . . . have been Goldmark Property Management’s attorney since early 1983, which was three years prior to the time that Berg sold his interest in that company.”

Seems to me there’s a difference between “never” and “since 1986,” even if that feels like forever in today’s political world. Would someone explain that to me?


Speaking of Goldmark, here’s a sentence from their website:

“Kenneth P. Regan and James S. Wieland founded GOLDMARK in March, 1981. As a principle owner, Ken is Chief Executive Officer.”

So, Ken Regan owns some principles. Well, it’s nice to see someone in the company does. . . .


A new study conducted by a Norwegian researcher on a website called The Oil Drum, an organization which says it “seeks to facilitate civil, evidence-based discussions about energy and its impacts on the future of humanity, as well as serve as a leading online knowledge-base for energy-related topics” suggests that North Dakota’s oil production may be topping out at 600,000-700,000 barrels per day, instead of the more robust predictions (a million barrels a day? 2 million?) coming from Harold Hamm and Lynn Helms (The same Lynn Helms who said, of North Dakota’s population boom, in an interview with Bloomberg Business earlier this year, “A population of a million. That is a cool number. It would be a wonderful state to live in.”  Major findings of the study:

  • Presently the estimated breakeven price for the “average” well in the Bakken formation in North Dakota is $80 – $90/Bbl In plain language this means that presently the commercial profitability for new wells is barely positive.
  • The “average” well now yields around 85,000 Bbls during the first 12 months of production and then experiences a year over year decline of 40% (+/-) 2%
  • The recent trend for newer “average” wells is one of a perceptible decline in well productivity (lower yields)
  • As of 2007 and also as of recent months, the total production of shale oil from Bakken, has shown exceptional growth and the (relatively high) specific average productivity (expressed as Bbls/day/well) has been sustained by starting up flow from an accelerating number of new wells
  • Now and based upon present observed trends for principally well productivity and crude oil futures (WTI), it is challenging to find support for the idea that total production of shale oil from the Bakken formation will move much above present levels of 0.6 – 0.7 Mb/d on an annual basis.

You can read the entire study here.


Finally, on a lighter note, this from an AP story in the Elko, NV, Daily Free Press:

BILLINGS, Mont. — Law enforcement officers in northeastern Montana have arrested three people suspected of transporting several pounds of marijuana while riding an Amtrak train . . . All three are charged with carrying dangerous drugs on a train.

Hmmm. Interesting charge. Carrying dangerous drugs on a train. I did a little research. There actually is a Montana law (45-9-127)  that says “a person commits the offense of carrying dangerous drugs on a train in this state if the person is knowingly or purposely in criminal possession of a dangerous drug and boards any train.”

It doesn’t define “dangerous,” that I can find. But it’s interesting that they would use that law, and classify marijuana as “dangerous,” to arrest someone in a state where marijuana is available for medical purposes.

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