Kenmare ND - Upside Down Under

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Upside Down Under

By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News


Is this hiding the truth?...

Posted 7/02/19 (Tue)

Several weeks ago I received an email from the Bismarck Tribune regarding a headline in which the Washington state Legislature wanted to reduce the volatility of North Dakota crude oil if it was going to travel through Washington on trains.

It cited the Lac-Megantic disaster in 2013 in which 47 were killed and the explosion west of Casselton, also in 2013.

But, North Dakota’s top oil cheerleader Lynn Helms was trying to convince the Washington Legislature that lower volatility wasn’t supported by science.

This is the same Lynn Helms who announced on statewide TV two weeks before the Casselton explosion that he was going to write a white paper and prove once and for all Bakken crude isn’t volatile. Two weeks later the “Casselton Cocktail” went boom and put a scare into just about everybody.

If Bakken oil is harmless, how did those trains explode? Did they just spontaneously combust, or did somebody sabotage the train that caused the explosions?

You’ll recall that months ago, Helms was instrumental in convincing the Industrial Commission to lower the standards on the volatility of Bakken crude because it’s apparently a lot of work for the oil companies to get this under control.

Helms is also the individual who didn’t want to impose fines on those who ditched a building full of radioactive filter socks in the Divide County town of Noonan.

That’s all disturbing enough, but where this becomes interesting is in the lack of media coverage.

Amy Dalrymple of the Bismarck Tribune wrote an article about Helms lobbying the Washington Legislature. Unfortunately, if you wanted to read the article, you would have to subscribe.

None of the other North Dakota newspapers carried this story. The Fargo Forum, which bills itself as the leading news organization in the state, missed it.

In fact, it didn’t get picked up, at least not in North Dakota. But a scan of this story indicated it was published in the Washington Post, the the Seattle Post-Intelligener as well as newspapers in Spokane, Tacoma and in the state capital, Olympia.

You have to wonder why this wasn’t carried in the state?

On the other hand, if there is something good happening in the oil industry, the news is all over it. For instance when North Dakota was a rising star in oil production, it seemed there was a major article every day about how we surpassed Oklahoma in production, then we surpassed Louisiana, then it was said we’d never beat out California and we did.

There is never any rebuttal. It’s completely one sided. Here’s an example. Continental Resources public affairs flew from Denver direct to New Town to present a $10,000 donation to the local boys club. They called the New Town News and insisted the newspaper be there for a story.

But when that same company had a blowout 200 feet from the Missouri River, their public affairs people disappeared off the face of the earth.

Why isn’t this news fair and balanced like Fox News claims to be? The general public would certainly be less skeptical. Too many people, however, are afraid if they say something negative about the oil companies, they’ll pack up and move to Oklahoma.

Did the coal companies leave the state when Gov. Art Link made them reclaim the land they were destroying in the early ‘70s? No!

Our Legislature and the Industrial Commission, have allowed the oil companies a carta blanche agenda.

Washington is trying to protect itself. Those oil trains roll through Spokane, Seattle and Tacoma, all major population centers and at any time, one of them could blow up just like the July 6, 2013 disaster in Lac-Megantic, Quebec.

Don’t you think every legislative body would want to protect its own citizens? Most would.

Now North Dakota is suing Washington to try to declare the bill in Olympia unconstitutional.

We always tell others to keep their noses out of our business, now we are poking our heads into Washington’s business.

The oil companies are going to be here whether the state government cooperates or not. They know there is oil in the state and they anticipate getting it.

It’s that simple.

The oil companies should be held accountable for their actions rather than being protected. If that were the case, maybe people wouldn’t quickly become skeptical when Lynn Helms speaks. Remember, he works for North Dakota, not big oil.