Gov. Jack Dalrymple is encouraging companies that supply propane to North Dakota to do everything they can to get product to the state’s farmers who are dealing with propane shortages. The Governor’s Office has contacted Kinder Morgan and CHS to strongly encourage them to mobilize all available supplies of propane, which are used to dry crops including corn, grain and sunflowers. The propane shortage across the Midwest has been driven by both supply disruptions and unusually high demand as a result of the late start to the planting season this spring combined with a wet harvest. Last week, Dalrymple signed an executive order extending hours of service for drivers supplying propane, gasoline and diesel fuel to retail suppliers. This extension was based on the shortage and the fact that delivery drivers are driving further to obtain propane and waiting longer to fill, which limits their ability to transport product
Tuesday Congressman Kevin Cramer announced alongside a bipartisan group of Representatives legislation to delay the implementation of flood insurance rate increases and ensure affordability going forward, marking the second time the House of Representatives has taken up the issue. As a result of implementing reforms passed in the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 millions of homeowners are going to face significant flood insurance premium increases causing them to be priced out of their homes.
Enbridge Inc. plans to file applications this week to build a $2.5 billion pipeline to carry oil from North Dakota across northern Minnesota to Wisconsin. But opponents, including farmers along the route, are organizing to fight it. The 610-mile "Sandpiper" line would carry more than 200,000 barrels per day from western North Dakota's Bakken fields to the company's terminal in Superior, Wis. The company says its web of pipelines that transport Bakken oil is straining to keep up, so a new line is crucial. But organic farmers and other property owners in northeastern Minnesota's Carlton County says they worry the pipeline will destroy their land and way of life. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission will spend a year weighing landowner concerns against the need for Sandpiper.
The Grafton Area chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a free Business Lunch with a representative of Blue Cross Blue Shield tomorrow at noon at the Choice Financial Community room. The purpose of the Lunch is address questions concerning the Affordable Care Act, better Known as Obamacare. Chamber Director Todd Morgan says the meeting starts at noon and will last about an hour and lunch will not be served so you can brown bag your lunch if you'd like. Though the event is geared towards businesses with concerns over providing healthcare to their employees, the employees themselves are also welcome. Morgan emphasizes this is NOT a healthcare debate and political statements are not welcome. He says the time for debating is over. Morgan also says if there's a large enough response, an evening question and answer session may be held at a later date.
Dry weather over the past week has helped many North Dakota farmers make progress on the harvest of late-season crops. The Agriculture Department says in its latest crop and weather report that the sugar beet, potato, flaxseed, dry bean and canola harvests all are nearing completion. The corn, soybean and sunflower harvests still lag behind the average pace, however. Pasture and range conditions in the state are rated 70 percent good to excellent, and calf and cattle conditions are 85 percent good to excellent. Topsoil moisture is 97 percent adequate to surplus, and subsoil moisture 95 percent adequate to surplus.
The lawyer for a man convicted of killing two children on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation in North Dakota says his client should either be acquitted or granted a new trial. Defense attorney Christopher Lancaster on Monday filed separate motions for Valentino "Tino" Bagola, who is awaiting sentencing on two counts of felony murder. A federal jury in September found Bagola guilty for the May 2011 slayings of 9-year-old Destiny Jane Shaw-Dubois and her 6-year-old brother, Travis Lee DuBois Jr. Lancaster says the government did not prove its case and presented as evidence a confession that was coerced by an interrogation with several "gotcha" moments. Bagola earlier this month filed court documents on his own asking to be released from prison because Lancaster did a poor job of defending him.
Corn growers and independent gas stations are teaming up to bring the higher-ethanol fuel known as E15 to Minnesota drivers. Penn Mobil in south Minneapolis is Minnesota's first station to offer the 15 percent ethanol fuel, but other stations are also planning to sell the new blend. Penn Mobil is selling E15 for 15 cents a gallon cheaper than E10, the standard 10 percent blend. Corn growers are subsidizing the gas pump upgrades to allow the stations to dispense E15. Most U.S. cars and trucks were designed for E10. The Environmental Protection Agency has approved E15 for 2001 and newer cars, SUVs and light trucks. But the U.S. auto industry doesn't endorse E15. Ford and GM have approved E15, but only for more recent models.
A loan fund for local school construction is already running out of money. The 2013 Legislature set aside 150 million dollars in the low interest loan fund. Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Robert Marthaller told the Legislature’s interim Education Funding committee – 102-million dollars has already been committed. To be eligible – the project must have a price tag of at least 100-thousand dollars. But Republican State Representative David Monson of Osnabrock wondered if that may be too low a threshold. Marthaller says later this week, representatives of DPI will be meeting with the Bank of North Dakota – to look at the loan program.
Officials who are working to provide Internet service in rural areas of North Dakota say they are trying to fulfill the need for speed. Jasper Schneider, state director for the Agriculture Department's rural development agency, says telecommunications companies are working on installing high-speed fiber-optic service to rural residents. The USDA says it has invested more than $344 million in North Dakota broadband and telecommunications projects since 2009. Schneider highlighted a recent $6 million grant to BEK Communications Cooperative that will help provide high-speed broadband to a sparsely populated area of Barnes County, in southeastern North Dakota. Schneider says the fiber-to-the-home technology helps rural promote business and is a good investment for the state. He says that high-speed Internet is "permanently changing the game" for rural residents.
A plane crash has killed one person near the Princeton airport in east-central Minnesota. The plane crashed about 12:45 p.m. Monday near the airport runway. Mille Lacs County Sheriff Brent Lindgren says a Princeton area man was heading to North Dakota to go hunting when the plane crashed. Lindgren says the man's hunting dog was with him and survived. But the sheriff says the man, who was the only person aboard the plane, died. His name has not been released. The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate. Princeton is about 45 miles north of Minneapolis