Public Officials Visit the Bakken

By Staff | September 06, 2013

There are many reasons to visit the Williston Basin. U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell paid a visit in August as did U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe. West Virginia Senate President Jeff Kessler has announced plans to make a late-summer trip to the region.

Jewell toured the area for two days, seeing first hand the oil and gas developments in the region. She was accompanied by U.S. Senators John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and several other public and private representatives. Kari Cutting, vice president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, was one of the private members on the tour. According to Cutting, Jewell was impressed with the technology on display in the oilfields. Cutting also noted that during the trip, Jewell said North Dakota could become the model for other shale plays across the country.

“The Bakken boom is a perfect example of how new and improved technology is allowing industry to tap previously inaccessible or unknown energy resources to create jobs, decrease our dependence on foreign oil and grow our economy,” Jewell said, following her visit. “Working hand in hand with industry, we have an opportunity to use innovative technologies.”

The Interior’s Bureau of Land Management is already utilizing new technologies and approaches in the Bakken oil play. The North Dakota Field Office has implemented an electronic submission process for Applications for Permits to Drill. The process has allowed the BLM to provide application updates while speeding up the entire process for the BLM and applicants.

Donahoe has also helped bring a focus on efficiency to his staff linked to western N.D. Donahoe has directed staff in Sioux Falls, S.D., to work at recruiting additional employees for western N.D., in addition to directing a full-time staff member to focus on staffing issues. In August, Donahoe announced plans to visit the region to assess mail service. “We’re pleased Postmaster Donahoe has agreed to visit North Dakota to see firsthand the impact of economic and population growth in the western part of our state,” said Hoeven. “Those growing communities are in need of reliable and timely postal services now more than ever.”

Kessler also believes a trip to N.D. is worth his time. Kessler has proposed funding legistlation that will utilize oil and gas taxes generated in his state for a state-based investment fund similar to North Dakota’s Legacy Fund. Kessler announced he would bring a small delegation during his visit. “If we can create the fund and begin investing in it now, it will send a powerful message to Wall Street that West Virginia, during these tough economic times, is not only balancing its budget but also saving for the future,” he said. In addition to learning about the Legacy Fund, Kessler also voiced his hope to learn about the ways the state manages its energy resources.