Act Today to Protect the Little Missouri State Scenic River

There are two or three days left in the Legislative Session. A lot of bad things are going to happen to North Dakota in that short period of time. I’ve been watching every Legislative Session since 1975, and this one is by far the most irresponsible I’ve seen.

One of the worst things that could happen this week is the industrialization of the Little Missouri State Scenic River. I wrote about this last week. I won’t go back into it here. Instead, I’m asking you to help stop something bad from happening. Below is an e-mail I sent to Governor Doug  Burgum this morning. In it, I am asking him to instruct his State Engineer to withdraw the amendment to the Little Missouri Scenic River Act that he has requested in House bill 1020. You can read it here. It is on page 8, about halfway down the page.  The words “temporary use” which they are adding to the Act are code words for Industrial Water Permits. The Water Commission’s own engineers told me that last week.

Please consider e-mailing Gov, Burgum by going to this link on his web page and ask him to have his State Engineer withdraw his request for changes to the Little Missouri State Scenic River Act in HB 1020. Please do it today. Tomorrow is probably too late. Thank you for your help.

Here’s the e-mail I sent this morning.

Dear Gov. Burgum,

In 1975, the Legislature acted to protect the Little Missouri State Scenic River (its full and appropriate title) from industrial development by passing the Little Missouri State Scenic River Act, now Section 61-29 of the North Dakota Century Code.  Many of my friends and I were involved in that effort to protect the Little Missouri River, as the state faced a request from Tenneco to build a coal gasification plant in western North Dakota, using water from a dam on a tributary of the Little Missouri. The act specifically said “No water for industrial use from the Little Missouri or its tributaries.” That law has withstood the test of time, except that the State Water Commission has been violating it for years by giving out illegal industrial use water permits from the Little Missouri, by their own accounting more than 600 of them, to the oil and gas industry. Now the Water Commission has asked that an amendment to 61-29 be approved to allow them to legally give out industrial water permits. They have done so in an amendment to House Bill 1020, a Water Commission appropriations bill. I am writing to ask you to instruct the State Engineer to ask the Legislature to remove that amendment from HB 1020 today. You and I both know that the Little Missouri is too valuable to be used as an industrial water source. That’s why it has been named the state’s only State Scenic River, and is the only river protected from development by state law. Please act today to preserve that law, and our precious Little Missouri State Scenic River.


Jim Fuglie

8 thoughts on “Act Today to Protect the Little Missouri State Scenic River

  1. Jim, I was in the House in 1975 when the Little Missouri was given the “Scenic” designation. Although we didn’t know about fracking, I’m certain members of the assembly would not have made exceptions for that purpose. I have sent your blogs to Senator Larry Robinson, who is on the conference committee and represents District 24, (as I did in 1975). I asked him to work to delete the amendments. Lynn


  2. This is the future of North Dakota, of our water, that we are talking about. We must convince the Republican governor and GOP legislators that respecting our environment is a core value of all North Dakotans. Teddy Roosevelt was a Republican. It’s the right thing to do for our state and our nation.


  3. Radioactive waste and violation of open records laws also occurred in North Dakota. Attny General Wayne Stenehjem ruled in favor of that. Joel Heitkamp interviewed Darrell Dorgan about it and that 4/15/2016 interview is available online. (I feel like a shameless name dropper for writing all those prominent ND names in a few sentences.) Gov. Burgum, as I said in my letter to you, this mess isn’t visible, but it’s there and it needs your leadership to help clean it up. The environment and people of North Dakota need you to act wisely.

    Hey Jim, is it time for you to write a blog with your institutional memory about how past governors managed the state of North Dakota and the oil industry?


  4. E-mail sent to Gov. Bergum, now I can only hope there is someone in Bismarck who is concerned with conservation. Thank you for the information on this!


  5. Sent my email to Gov. Bergum. Several years ago, I saw a national article on ‘state corruption’. North Dakota was named the number 1 state for political corruption. I thought it had to be a joke, since we had lived here only a few years and all we saw were local political responses to county and town issues. Although lots of local folk not party to the county ‘power elite’ complained, they didn’t seem to know how to confront their concerns. I must admit we were amazed at the amount of nepotism, secrecy, snoopiness, etc. found in our small county, but thought, “maybe we can help make the process work better for everyone.” Over process of time, the curtain is being lifted. I often think about that article on ‘state corruption’ I read at least a decade ago. It seems that now, anyone questioning ‘executive’ decisions made purportedly for the good of the ‘People of North Dakota’ – state or local – is singled out as some sort of ‘threat’ to peace and prosperity, or at least to the illusion of such.


  6. I sent an email supporting your request. The Corps of Engineers is also illegally allow oil companies to ” Temporarily ” take water from the Missouri River while they are deciding how much to charge or if they should allow it.
    We should charge the same price as a barrel of oil, but it should not be used for this. When will people realize our cleanwater is not replenished overnight. It is a valuable resource to be carefully


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