Saturday, September 18, 2021

Play

Hundreds of wealthy Americans back the Biden Build Back Better Act; Roger Stone is served with a warrant on live radio; and family caregivers are in need of assistance.

Play

Virginia gubernatorial candidates debate; former federal prosecutor Michael Sussmann indicted for lying to FBI; lawmakers set to question oil industry over climate disinformation; and FDA scientists express skepticism over booster shots.

Play

Lawsuits stall debt relief for America's Black farmers; Idaho hospitals using "critical care" protocols; grant money boosts rural towns in Utah and more conservation acreage could protect the iconic sage grouse.

ND Watchdogs Raise Concerns About COVID Spending for Fracking

Play

Thursday, December 17, 2020   

BISMARCK, N.D. -- COVID-19 relief spending by North Dakota officials is drawing scrutiny.

A pair of watchdogs question why the state is using CARES Act money for fracking grants.

In late October, the state approved $16 million in federal assistance for the oil and gas industry, which ended up receiving grants for the fracking process.

But the Dakota Resource Council and the group North Dakotans For Public Integrity (NDPI) say these grants appear to go against CARES Act guidelines and violate the state constitution.

The organizations sent a letter to a pair of key state agencies and federal officials, citing these legal concerns. NDPI President Dina Butcher said transparency issues are at play.

"It just was problematic for a lot of people who turned to one another and said, 'What's this one about?'" Butcher explained. "We couldn't find the information about to whom these grants were being made and what the process was going to be."

Specifically, she contended the action violates the state constitution's "gift" clause.

The North Dakota Industrial Commission received the letter. Gov. Doug Burgum is on the commission, and a spokesman referred to comments made during the panel's meeting this week.

Burgum resisted claims that these grants were "gifts" to the industry. And the budget director previously said the Act's guidelines were met because producers have been negatively impacted by the crisis.

At the time the spending was approved, state officials noted it would create needed jobs within the industry.

Lisa DeVille, a Dakota Resource Council board member representing group affiliate Fort Berthold Power, said that money could have been better spent on tribal members in need.

"This CARES Act money could have been used for my community," DeVille asserted. "It could have been used for other tribal communities for fuel assistance and social services."

She added in her community, they're constructing a new fire and emergency medical services building to help respond to more calls associated with the Bakken oil and gas development.

But she noted tax revenue for the project has stalled, putting her residents and first responders in a tougher situation to deal with the effects from the North Dakota oil boom.

Meanwhile, the state said it will honor information requests made by the groups.

CARES Act spending scrutiny has come up in other states such as Iowa, where money was diverted to technology projects.

Disclosure: Dakota Resource Council contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Environment, and Rural/Farming. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


get more stories like this via email
According to the most recent Census of Agriculture, cover-crop acres in the United States have increased to 10 million. (Adobe Stock)

Environment

EAST TROY, Wis. - Wisconsin farmers are looking ahead to the fall harvest, and those who use cover crops face a deadline to sign up for a research …


Social Issues

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - State Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay, is lashing out against the idea of Critical Race Theory, filing a bill to ban its use in all …

Social Issues

By Sonali Kolhatkar for Yes! Media. Broadcast version by Lily Bohlke for Commonwealth News Service reporting for the YES! Media-Public News Service …


According to a letter from academics and scientists urging global climate action, air pollution caused by climate change was responsible for one in five deaths worldwide in 2018. (Craig/Adobe Stock)

Environment

MANCHESTER, N.H. - Three New Hampshire professors are among those who've signed a letter urging the United Nations General Assembly to adopt what's …

Social Issues

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - One out of every three people incarcerated in the United States has contracted COVID-19, and a new report shows how state …

Oregon's Hispanic population grew 30% from 2010 to 2020. (Gstudio/Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Hispanic Heritage Month began this week, and will be celebrated through Oct. 15. Oregon has a rapidly growing Hispanic population…

Social Issues

SILVER SPRING, Md. -- As the Biden administration challenges a Texas law restricting abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, Planned Parenthood for …

Social Issues

CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- Social Security, the program credited with lifting 15 million older residents in Wyoming and across the U.S. out of poverty…

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021