Roscoe Streyle, a Republican legislator from Minot, received the following contributions from the oil industry during his 2014 campaign:
- Continental Resources PAC: $1,000
- Marathon Oil Company Employees PAC: $750
- ND Oil PAC: $1,500
- Newfield PAC: $300
- Tesoro PAC: $400
- Whiting Petroleum: $300
- WPX Energy PAC: $750
Of course, these donations mean nothing. Now, let’s see what legislation Roscoe is proposing this session. Well, would you look at that — he’s introduced a bill to allow oil companies to report fewer of their spills.
If the bill passes, oil companies in North Dakota will no longer have to report spills under 420 gallons that are “confined to the oil well pad, production facility or a production-related facility.”
So if it’s just a itsy-bitsy spill, oil producers don’t need to report it to the state. Right-wing blogger Rob Port, for one, loves the change:
“I’m sure the anti-oil zealots will hate this, and suggest it’s yet another example of North Dakota kowtowing to ‘Big Oil,’ but I think reasonable people can understand that what needs to be reported are spills which have an impact on the environment.”
The reason even smaller spills should be reported is it provides a track record for oil companies. If a company racks up a number of smaller spills, it’s an indication there might be a problem. Also, it’s important that there’s a public record of every spill. That way, regulators, journalists and citizens know something happened and can double-check that what the company reported is in fact true.
Given the number and severity of recent oil spills, to think this is the time to roll back the law on spill reporting is laughable. A 176,400 gallon spill was discovered last month by a landowner near Dickinson. A 840,000-gallon spill from 2013 still isn’t cleaned up.
Why doesn’t Roscoe come up with a bill to reduce the amount of spills, instead of trying to reduce the public’s knowledge of them?