This is Up and Down, where we give a brief thumbs up and thumbs down on the issues from the past week.
The North Dakota Petroleum Council has reconvened a task force on flaring. That’s a good idea. The industry has been facing increasing challenges in meeting gas capture goals. Pipelines and processing plants haven’t been keeping up with increasing oil production. It makes sense to reduce flaring since the flaring reduces the amount of money received by royalty owners and doesn’t help the environment. The industry also needs to work with the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation to reduce flaring. Hopefully, the task force can come up with ideas to help resolve the problem.
Custer Health in Mandan has encountered a hurdle while beginning the state’s first syringe exchange program —trust. Some who are eligible for the program fear they will be reported to the police. That won’t happen unless they violate basic rules that prohibit drug use on the premises, drug dealing and violent or threatening behavior. The program is intended to reduce rates of HIV and Hepatitis C by providing access to sterile syringes and education. The program is set up so staff can’t track participants by name. Those who qualify for the program, enabled by the 2017 Legislature, need to have faith in Custer Health and not waste an opportunity.
The Mandan Police Explorer program offers an opportunity for local youth to learn about law enforcement. The program is open to both boys and girls and provides a variety of experience. The students are trained in arrest techniques, CPR, take part in staged traffic stops and learn how to do interviews. They also will take part in fake crime scenes and will get to testify in court with a prosecutor and defense attorney. It’s a great way for young people to learn whether a law enforcement career is a good fit for them. It also benefits the Mandan Police Department because the students may be future officers for the city.
Marsy’s Law continues to create confusion in North Dakota. In a story on Feb. 18, reporter Jack Dura explained how the law has “chipped away” at the state’s open meetings and open records laws. Prosecutors across the state have been interpreting Marsy’s Law differently, which creates confusion for the public. The attorney general’s office has provided some clarity, but it’s likely going to take a Supreme Court ruling to clear up the confusion. Hopefully, that comes sooner than later.
North Dakota matched a national trend by showing an increase in exports during 2017. The state exported $2.24 billion worth of products in 2017, a 5.63 percent increase over the previous year. Nationally, there was a 6.59 percent increase in exports. Machinery sales and soybeans lead the way in North Dakota exports. The increase in exports bodes well for the state as it’s another sign of the economy picking up steam.