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Letter: They ‘assumed,’ but were wrong

In case you missed it, the governor threw a bunch of politicians under the barrel a few days ago. After a meeting of the North Dakota Industrial Commission, where they discussed the conditioning, or stabilizing, of Bakken crude, presumably for the purpose of making it safer to transport, Gov. Jack Dalrymple told the Petroleum News Bakken:

“We do want to be sure that we understand the conditioning that’s required and is meant to be taking place in North Dakota. What steps do we have to take to begin to monitor and basically regulate that, oversee it? We assume (operators) are doing conditioning, but we have no mechanism to verify that.”

By “we,” the governor is referring to the three members of the Industrial Commission. Doug Goehring, Wayne Stenehjem and himself, plus the other recent past and current regulators of oil in the state: Public Service Commissioners Randy Christmann, Julie Fedorchak and Brian Kalk.

Congressman Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., got tossed, too. He was on the PSC just two years ago.

They all “assumed” the oil producers in the Bakken were properly stabilizing the crude because oil companies have always been so trustworthy in the past 100-plus years.

Since the mid-2000s, our oil regulators “assumed” our Oklahoman and Texan friends were stabilizing away. Of course, they weren’t, and they aren’t, and they won’t, and millions of people saw the exploding Bakken oil trains, and dozens died, but hey.

The “mechanism to verify that?” Eyeballs. Or newspapers, if you want to go that route. “Only one stabilizer, which can remove the most volatile gases before transport, has been built in North Dakota and it hasn’t begun operation, according to a review by The Wall Street Journal.” Oops.