Letter: Apparently I struck a nerve with oil industry officials
Rep. Lisa DeVille responds to recent op-eds attempting to discredit comments she made in a Forum story about the health effects of flaring in North Dakota.
You know you have struck a nerve when the energy industry teams up with a conservative media pundit to produce not one, not two, but three hit pieces on me for statements I made recently regarding health impacts from oil flaring in the Bakken.
Recent columns from Scott Hennen, Ron Ness (Petroleum Council), and Peter Edis (McKenzie County Healthcare Systems, Inc.) represent what appears to be a coordinated effort to discredit a Forum story highlighting real health impacts of the oil and gas industry in North Dakota. The article featured a quote from me regarding a doctor’s diagnosis of "Bakken Cough" that both my husband and I received approximately eight years ago.
Hundreds of studies show increases in respiratory illnesses among those living and working near oil and gas wells. Though Bakken Cough is not an officially recognized diagnosis, it’s what the doctor at McKenzie Health System called our illness after learning that we lived next to a flare. Our doctor said they had seen other people working and living near flares with similar respiratory symptoms.
It’s alarming that a hospital administrator would question a patient in public - especially as this administrator wasn’t working for McKenzie Health, wasn’t in the exam room when I was diagnosed, and knows nothing about my health. Unfortunately, I must consider that there may be a connection between the $1.4 million donated to Edis's facility from members of the North Dakota Petroleum Council and his participation in this clumsy attempt to discredit me.
What is not surprising is Hennen resorting to name-calling, labeling me an “eco-terrorist.” In reality, I have never said I am against the oil industry. I have said I am for appropriately regulating the industry to reduce any harmful environmental impacts.
As a state representative, I will work to get a health study funded and an appropriation for more air quality monitoring through the Legislature. I will also work with Fort Berthold officials to get robust air quality monitoring on the reservation. I believe in finding workable, common sense solutions – not burying my head in the sand or resorting to childish name-calling – and that is what I will focus on for the people of North Dakota.
Rep. Lisa DeVille, D-Mandaree, serves in the North Dakota House of Representatives.
This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.