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Eye On Energy: Expanding Highway 85 (Theodore Roosevelt Expressway)

(Gene Veeder, McKenzie County Economic Development) "Linking to the two four-lanes to the north and the south is really vital from the economic development side."

(Cal Klewin, TR Expressway) "In North Dakota, it led the state in traffic deaths and property damage. Those all have to be considered when you're talking about the need."


November 16, 2015

A study is underway to connect the last 62 miles of four-lane highway in western North Dakota.

A four-lane project for US Highway 85 from Watford City to Williston is nearing completion.

Now the North Dakota Department of Transportation has commissioned a study to four-lane the highway from Watford City south to Belfield, which would create a four-lane connection to Interstate 94.

In tonight's Eye on Energy, Jennifer Kleen tells us about one of the most expensive studies the DOT has undertaken.   Read on…


Mexico Inflation Rate Falls to Lowest in Almost Five Decades

Bloomberg Business

November 9, 2015

Mexican consumer prices rose in line with analyst estimates in October, pushing the annual inflation rate to the lowest in almost five decades for the fifth consecutive month. Policy makers may not have it so good again for years.

Prices advanced 0.51 percent from a month earlier, the national statistics institute said on its website Monday, compared with the 0.52 percent median forecast of 24 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. The annual inflation rate fell to 2.48 percent from 2.52 percent the previous month, below the central bank’s target of 3 percent.

The pace of price increases in Mexico has slowed to the lowest among major Latin American countries on weak economic growth and falling costs for phone services as the government removes barriers to competition. Still, the central bank has said it’s monitoring signs of faster price increases due to a weaker peso and signaled that higher borrowing costs in the U.S. may call for an increase in Mexico.

“We expect a small rebound in inflation at the end of the year, so last month may be the low point for the annual rate,” Rafael Camarena, an economist at Grupo Financiero Santander Mexico SAB, said by telephone. “We’re starting to see some bigger price hikes that are probably due to the weaker peso, and businesses typically review their pricing in November and December.”   Read on…


Canada’s oilpatch to become third largest contributor of new crude by 2040, but LNG prospects challenging: IEA

Edmonton Journal

November 9, 2015

Despite the headwinds facing the Canadian oilpatch, the industry would likely add another 2.5 million barrels per day of crude oil by 2040, but don’t expect the country’s liquefied natural gas export industry to start up anytime soon, according to a new International Energy Agency report.

The International Energy Agency’s latest World Economic Outlook (WEO) charts an uncertain future for the world’s energy sector. While the Paris-based energy watchdog’s prognosis has been a hit-and-miss affair over the years, it nevertheless serves as a reference point for the global oil and gas sector and its 29-member countries including Canada, the United States and Germany.

The IEA acknowledges its limitation as a forecaster in its report published Tuesday.

“It will be no surprise to find, in five or twenty-five years’ time, that the outcome doesn’t match the figures in the WEO. So, why do we bother?” IEA executive director Fatih Birol, asks in the foreword.

“I can answer this confidently: the reason that we look into the future is to trigger key policy changes in the present.”  Read on…


Ports-to-Plains Alliance Statement on Denial of Keystone XL Permit

The Ports-to-Plains Alliance is disappointed in President Obama’s rejection of TransCanada’s permit application for the Keystone XL Pipeline.  The project would have provided a key link to safely and efficiently transport oil from a stable and friendly supplier in Alberta, as well as domestic oil from the Bakken, to refineries in Texas.  It would generate new tax revenue for rural entities throughout the region.  It would also create new jobs, not only directly in the construction of the pipeline, but through energy industry and support jobs created by improved market access.

We do agree with the President when he said that Keystone XL had taken on “an overinflated role” in the country’s political discourse.  Since TransCanada applied for the Presidential permit in 2008, almost 10,000 miles of oil pipelines have been constructed in the United States – the equivalent of eight Keystone XL pipelines.  Pipelines are undoubtedly safe and efficient.  It is unfortunate that political discourse is preventing Americans and our largest trade partner, Canada, from taking advantage of the great economic benefits of the Keystone XL Pipeline.


U.S. President Barack Obama has rejected TransCanada’s application to build the Keystone XL pipeline

“TransCanada and its shippers remain absolutely committed to building this important energy infrastructure project. We will review our options to potentially file a new application for border-crossing authority to ship our customer’s crude oil, and will now analyze the stated rationale for the denial.” —Russ Girling, chief executive, TransCanada

Edmonton Journal

November 6, 2015

Obama said the Keystone pipeline would “not serve the national interests” of the U.S., adding that the project had an overly inflated role in the political discourse between both countries.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was disappointed but understood the decision, Obama said.

“While he expressed his disappointment, given Canada’s position on this issue, we both agreed that our close friendship on a whole range of issues — including energy and climate change — should provide the basis for an even closer co-ordination between our countries going forward,” Obama said at the White House after meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry.

Obama gave 3 main reasons for rejecting the pipeline:

  1. The pipeline would not make a “meaningful, long-term” contribution to the American economy. He said an infrastructure plan would create more jobs in the short-term and benefit the economy more in the long term than Keystone XL.
  2. The pipeline would not lower gas prices for American consumers, which are down a dollar per gallon over 2 years ago.
  3. Shipping “dirtier crude oil” into the United States wouldn’t increase American’s energy security.

Killing the pipeline allows Obama to claim aggressive action on the environment, potentially strengthening his hand as world leaders prepare to finalize major global climate pact within weeks that Obama hopes will be a crowning jewel for his legacy. Yet it also puts the president in a direct confrontation with Republicans and energy advocates that will almost surely spill over into the 2016 presidential election.   Read on…


A Comparison between STRRA and Ports-to-Plains Alliance Federal Recommendations

The Ports-to-Plains Alliance has provided each U.S. House of Representative office along the Ports-to-Plains  corridor, from Texas on the south and North Dakota and Montana on the north, a copy of the Comparison.

The Comparison evaluates the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015 (STRRA) released by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on Friday October 16, 2015 in relationship to Ports-to-Plains Alliance Federal Recommendations.  In Spring, 2015 the Ports-to-Plains Alliance prepared a specific set of recommendations entitled Federal Priorities of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance for Transportation Reauthorization. The recommendations were hand delivered and sent electronically to each office. 

These recommendations focus on both the big picture of policy and funding and the key needs of freight movement from a rural corridor perspective.

Click here to download A Comparison between STRRA and Ports-to-Plains Alliance Federal Recommendations


North Dakota: Public Scoping Meetings: Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed US Highway 85

Public Scoping Meetings to be held on November 9 and 10, 2015 to discuss the Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed US Highway 85 Project from the I-94 Interchange to the Watford City Bypass (McKenzie County Road 30).

Public Scoping Meetings will be held at the following dates, times and locations:

  • 5:00 to 7:30 p.m. MDT on November 9, 2015, at the Belfield City Hall, 107 2nd Ave NE, Belfield, ND 58622
  • 5:00 to 7:30 p.m. CDT on November 10, 2015, at the Watford City Hall, 213 2nd Street NE, Watford City, ND

The Public Scoping Meetings will utilize an open house format beginning at 5:00 p.m. with formal presentations beginning at 5:30 p.m.

The purpose of the Public Scoping Meetings is to understand potential issues of the proposed project and to help define the project’s purpose and need. The Public Scoping Meetings will provide opportunity for public input. Representatives from the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) and KLJ will be available to answer questions.

The NDDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is initiating an Environmental Impact Statement for the US Highway 85 project. The project limits are from the Interstate 94 Interchange to the Watford City Bypass (McKenzie County Road 30) in Stark, Billings and McKenzie Counties, North Dakota. The project length is approximately 62 miles. The proposed project would expand US Highway 85 to four lanes (with flexible design options to avoid or minimize impacts) and rehabilitate or replace the historic Long X Bridge over the Little Missouri River.

If unable to attend the public scoping meetings, written statements or comments must be mailed by December 10, 2015 to:

Matt Linneman, Program Manager
Environmental & Transportation Services

608 E. Boulevard Avenue
Bismarck, ND 58505-0700
Email: mlinneman@nd.gov


Nebraska: Lawmakers hearing call to ‘step it up’ on roads funding

A new coalition, 4 Lanes 4 Nebraska, is pushing for the expansion of a 45-mile stretch of Highway 275 in Northeast Nebraska. In the Nebraska Panhandle, cities and counties are lobbying for the expansion of roughly 150 miles of the Heartland Expressway, a major thoroughfare for truckers and tourists heading to the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore.

“It’s long overdue that we actually finish the work,” said Josh Moenning, executive director of 4 Lanes 4 Nebraska. “If we’re serious about growing Nebraska, we need to be serious about investing in this growth opportunity.”

Deb Cottier, treasurer of the Heartland Expressway Association, said the groups partnered to present a united front to lawmakers from different parts of the state.

“It’s a matter of the squeaky wheel getting the grease,” said Cottier, an economic development director in Chadron. “If they don’t hear from us, they’re going to assume we’re doing OK.”

Norfolk Daily News

October 26, 2015

With Nebraska expected to see millions of dollars in new state funding for roads next year, lawmakers are looking for ways to accelerate work on a decades-old backlog of highway projects.

Members of the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee have spent the summer traveling the state to examine Nebraska’s highway and bridge repair needs as they prepare legislation for next year’s session.

“One thing we’ve heard very clearly is that we need to step it up,” said Sen. Jim Smith of Papillion, the committee chairman.

Smith said he’s looking for additional revenue sources to address the backlog and a way to generate money up-front, instead of waiting for smaller amounts to trickle in each year.   Read on…