NY Times reports pols, oil companies too cozy in ND

A pumpjack is seen on July 22, 2013 outside Williston, North Dakota. Pumpjacks are used to mechanically pump oil and natural gas out of the earth when there is not enough natural pressure for the liquids to rise on their own. Andrew Burton / Getty Images

North Dakota has the fastest-growing economy in the nation, thanks to the oil drilling in the western part of the state.

It’s happening because, at best, the leaders of the state are looking the other way to the environmental disaster that is unfolding in the state, the New York Times reported this weekend.

At worst, there’s corruption in state government, the Times suggests.

The governor’s office declined The Times’s requests to interview him, and provided a written statement. It did not verify or deny The Times’s calculation of contributions or respond to specific questions about allegations of conflicts of interest.

Over the campaign, Mr. Dalrymple would collect over $93,000 from those with a direct interest in the mega-unit and a total of about $550,000 from oil-related executives, lawyers and political action committees. That represented a quarter of the $2.16 million in contributions over $200 (the bar for disclosure) to Mr. Dalrymple.

Governors in top oil-producing states typically get industry contributions. In North Dakota, though, the governor’s relationship to those contributors’ interests is uniquely direct because he is chairman of the Industrial Commission.

The North Dakota Industrial Commission — governor, attorney general and agriculture commissioner — has not rejected a motion on regulating the oil companies since 2011.

“You feel as if the meetings are a performance, that everything’s sort of done under the table, with a lot of back-room deals,” said Wayde Schafer, the Sierra Club’s sole employee in North Dakota.

Typical of the Times, its investigation includes a stunning online visualization of the extent to which state “regulators” and the oil companies have pushed landowners around in giving the companies whatever they wanted.

  • Jack

    What will North Dakota be like after all the oil is gone and the land is contaminated? Guessing that it will only be a booming economy for the environmental remediaters.

  • John O.

    Some pols in this state look longingly at ND as a vision of how Minnesota should be. I can only imagine the shortage of AEDs and/or nitroglycerin capsules if Minnesota had an “Industrial Commission” comprised of the Governor, AG, and Commissioner of Agriculture.

    • DavidG

      Not to mention the State Bank…

  • Robert Moffitt

    Look at other places where a singe industry dominates — coal mining, agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, you name it, and you will often find that industry has a “cozy relationship” with elected officials. So it has always been.

  • MikeB

    A great piece by the NYT. Shows how the residents of ND are willing to take the long term risks to their state in exchange for $ now.

  • joetron2030

    In ND? How about in the entire country. Pols and industry are too cozy everywhere.

  • Ice man

    Where’s the article that the NewYork Times was too cozy with Obama and never vetted him in 2008? Or is to cozy with him to actually do some investigative reporting on all his scandals and executive overreach. At least the oil companies are creating wealth with more jobs, royalty money for private land owners and a state with extra coffers for a rainy day. Still waiting on Obama’s shovel ready jobs from the trillions he’s wasted.

  • rst1317


    Typical of the Times, its investigation includes a stunning online visualization of the extent to which state “regulators” and the oil companies have pushed landowners around in giving the companies whatever they wanted.

    Also in typical NYT, they throw out these claims as though they’re fact. We know we have cases where people have mineral rights but do not own the property. A mature look at the issue would delve into how the law has over the last 100+ years worked to sort out how those two co-exist.