North Dakota

NORTH DAKOTA

North Dakota is the nation’s nineteenth largest in area and fourth smallest by population, home to 760 thousand people with a land area of almost 70 thousand square miles. The Great Plains constitute most of North Dakota’s land; however, at the state’s border with Montana, the land transforms into the rocky Badlands

President James Buchanan signed the bill creating the Dakota Territory in 1861. It originally included the area covered today by North and South Dakota as well as Montana and Wyoming. In 1889, North Dakota became a state. “Dakota” is a Native American (Sioux) word for “friend.” There are four federally-recognized tribes in North Dakota today, among them the Standing Rock Sioux, who made headlines around the globe for their resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline amidst militarized construction efforts that the Tribe argued violated treaty rights. In July of 2020, the D.C. District Court ordered the owners of the DAPL to halt operations while the government conducts a full analysis of risks.

North Dakota is vulnerable to inland flooding, as precipitation is expected to continue increasing in the coming decades. In the Red River watershed, river flows during the worst flood of the year have been increasing by about 10% per decade since the 1920s. A changing climate will have varying effects on North Dakota’s agriculture. Warmer temperatures extend the growing season and may actually increase yields of crops like soybean and corn. However, over the next 70 years, the number of days above 100 degrees is expected to double in North Dakota, and these hotter conditions can dry soil and impact the health of crops. 

In 2019, coal accounted for 63% of North Dakota’s electricity generation and half of the state’s 10 largest power plants are coal-fired. Wind energy supplies about 27% of North Dakota’s electricity and has more than tripled in the past decade, with hydroelectric power supplying about 7%. Following the development of North Dakota’s shale oil resources in 2008, natural gas output began rapidly increasing and gross withdrawals surpassed 1 trillion cubic feet for the first time in 2019. The state’s current production now exceeds its ability to consume.North Dakota currently lacks a renewable energy standard or any kind of climate action plan.

Flash Drought Left North Dakota Ranchers Divided on Climate Change

CURRENT NEWS

Utility plans another gas-fired power plant for North Dakota

By Jeff Beach 05/16/24
Basin Electric Cooperative plans to build another natural gas-fired power generation facility in North Dakota, a top company official said Wednesday.
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North Dakota introduces a limited climate initiative focused on sustainable practices

By Jeff Beach 04/22/24
North Dakota has announced a preliminary climate strategy targeting sustainability, though it notably excludes fossil fuel regulation.
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Poll on climate change shows some in ND yet to be convinced

By Mike Moen 02/23/24
North Dakota voters are divided on climate change matters, according to new polling data. To get more community buy-in for climate solutions, a University of North Dakota professor says, local leaders can fine-tune their messaging.
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A warming world could increase irrigation’s importance, but roadblocks exist to expansion

By Joey Harris 02/15/24
Less than 1% of North Dakota farmland is irrigated, but in a warming world, there could be more demand for the practice.
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Major North Dakota energy decisions looming in 2024

By Jeff Beach 01/03/24
The upcoming year will be a significant one for North Dakota’s energy industry, with decisions looming on two controversial pipelines that could have ripple effects across the energy sector and beyond.
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North Dakota defends DAPL, Standing Rock fears for its water

By Jeff Beach and Amy Dalrymple 12/14/23
North Dakota officials filed more than 200 pages arguing to keep the Dakota Access Pipeline operating just as a public comment period for the controversial project closed Wednesday.
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Carbon Capture Faces a Major Test in North Dakota

By Dan Gearino 07/06/23
Energy companies have talked for years about how carbon capture technology will preserve their ability to burn coal and natural gas in a world that needs to drastically cut carbon emissions.
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What needs to happen next to store clean energy in North Dakota

By Joe Rinaldi 05/12/23
North Dakota has a lot to offer when it comes to clean energy — whether it’s wind, geothermal, or even hydroelectric power. But storing that energy has always been a struggle.
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This part of North Dakota is the most worried about climate change

By Stacker 05/09/23
Nationally, 72% of Americans believe global warming is happening. But when public opinion researchers zoom in on Americans, they find that attitudes and opinions about climate change can vary drastically from county to county—even when…
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New clean energy initiative may impact North Dakota vehicles

By Adrienne Oglesby 04/18/23
The Environmental Protection Agency announced a new proposal regarding federal vehicle emissions standards in North Dakota and the rest of the nation.
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North Dakota Wants to Lead the Nation in Rare Earth Production

By David Kidd 04/07/23
But first, researchers need to figure out a good, consistent way to extract the minerals used in electronic devices and develop a supply chain that supports the operation. That's going to take time and money.
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Otter Tail Power reverses course, will stick with North Dakota coal plant

By Mike Hughlett 04/06/23
The Minnesota utility had planned to exit Coyote Station, but now says electricity market concerns have changed its plans.
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PLANS TO ACCELERATE RENEWABLES

North Dakota coal plant now “fully circular,” owner says

11/27/23
Eco Material Technologies, a producer of sustainable cementitious materials and near-zero carbon cement replacement products, announced an expanded partnership with Rainbow Energy Center to jointly invest in new beneficiation and harvesting plants at the Coal…

Fate of Walworth County solar farm in jeopardy as setback proposal moves forward

11/11/23
The future of a planned solar farm in north-central South Dakota could be in question as proposed regulations that have the backing of project opponents inch ahead.

North Dakota Carbon Management Hub On Track To Get US$100,000 Boost

11/09/23
The North Dakota Renewable Energy Council recommended on Monday a boost of US$100,000 for the Prairie Horizon Carbon Management Hub, a joint project of the University of North Dakota Energy & Environmental Research Center and…

Biden Administration Must Redo Its Assessment of Dakota Access Pipeline

10/24/23
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) recently issued a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). This typically occurs before a pipeline is built but, in the case of…

Hydrogen hub in Minnesota and North Dakota wins nearly $1 billion in federal money

10/13/23
Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota have been chosen to host one of seven U.S. "clean" hydrogen production hubs, scoring up to $925 million in federal money.

Biden, ND senators announce $925 million clean-energy funding package for EERC, others

10/13/23
North Dakota’s senators and President Joe Biden on Friday announced a massive federal award intended to be used in a collaborative effort focused on clean-energy hydrogen hubs.

NORTH DAKOTA – STATE ENERGY / CLIMATE PLAN

04/17/20
State energy plans (SEPs) are developed in order to provide guidance for meeting current and future energy needs sustainably, reliably, and cost-effectively. While the motivations for developing a SEP are likely to vary across states,…

KEY RESOURCES

North Dakota State Profile and Energy Estimates

10/16/21
North Dakota has substantial fossil fuel and renewable energy resources. The state is the second-largest crude oil producer in the nation, after Texas, and also has significant coal reserves.

Energy State Bill Tracking Database

09/10/21
The searchable Energy Storage Legislation Database displays information in interactive maps and charts, tracking state activity from 2017 to the present.

More coal was consumed in Indiana than in all but two U.S. states in 2019

02/22/21
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) latest coal data, the 36.7 million short tons of coal consumed in Indiana during 2019 was more than any state in the nation besides Texas and North…

The First National Flood Risk Assessment

10/06/20
The First Street Foundation Flood Model represents the culmination of decades of research and development made possible by building upon existing knowledge and frameworks regularly referenced in the identification of flood risk.

The Impacts of Climate Change and the Trump Administration’s Anti-Environmental Agenda in North Dakota

09/19/20
Between 2017 and 2019, North Dakota experienced one severe flood and one intense drought. The damages of these events led to losses of at least $1 billion.

Preparing for Climate Change in North Dakota

09/16/20
The Georgetown Climate Center’s State Adaptation Progress Tracker, which tracks the progress of states in implementing their adaptation plans, is supported by the MacArthur Foundation.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s Litigation on the Dakota Access Pipeline

09/16/20
After carefully analyzing the seriousness of the government’s legal violations, and the potential impacts on the Tribe and third parties, today’s decision concluded that shutting down the pipeline was necessary.

State-by-State: Climate Change in North Dakota

08/06/20
North Dakota’s climate is already changing. In the past century, most of the state has warmed by 2°F. Rainstorms are becoming more intense, and annual rainfall is increasing. In the future, North Dakota can expect increasingly hot summers, which can…

North Dakota’s agriculture industry is vulnerable to climate change

04/17/20
North Dakota’s climate is already changing. In the past century, most of the state has warmed by 2°F. Rainstorms are becoming more intense, and annual rainfall is increasing. In the future, North Dakota can expect…

Environmental Law & Policy Center

04/17/20
North Dakota’s combination of environmental treasures, challenges and opportunities make the state a key part of ELPC’s advocacy to achieve environmental progress and economic development together.

What Climate Change Means for North Dakota

04/17/20
North Dakota’s climate is changing. In the past century, most of the state has warmed about two degrees (F). Rainstorms are becoming more intense, and annual rainfall is increasing. In the coming decades, longer growing…

Grande: Coal in context

04/17/20
With the push for renewable energy, North Dakota’s coal industry is being left out in the cold. The fact is that coal will provide electricity in our state for generations, and the sooner we accept…

MORE NEWS

Judge orders US to resume oil lease sales in North Dakota

03/30/23  
A federal judge has ordered the U.S. government to resume regular oil and gas lease sales on federal lands in North Dakota, even as a legal battle continues over the Biden administration’s suspension of the…
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North Dakota Senate advances tax breaks for fracking

By Kortney Lockey   03/22/23  
The North Dakota Senate passed a bill Monday that would give tax incentives to oil companies for “restimulating” old oil wells in the state through hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking.
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Are climate experts concerned about climate change in the Midwest? Yes and no

By Michael Johnson   03/20/23  
The northern Great Plains region plays an important role in providing food security for our nation and abroad.
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Prairie Potholes and Mississippi River Basin Will Benefit from Major DOI Climate Investment

By Kristyn Brady   03/08/23  
The boost for waterfowl and river health will come from a $120-million slate of projects to improve climate resilience and habitat
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Anti-ESG comes for the insurance industry

By Jordan Wolman and Debra Kahn   03/07/23  
Insurers are already on the front lines of climate change. Now they’re getting their turn on the front lines of the anti-ESG movement.
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Minnesota Power asks Legislature for $25M toward $700M refurbishing of key power line

By Mike Hughlett   03/02/23  
The line runs from Hermantown to North Dakota. The Duluth-based utility also is asking North Dakota for $25 million and the federal government for another $50 million.
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Why North Dakota is preparing to sue Minnesota over clean energy

By Zoya Teirstein   03/02/23  
In early February, lawmakers in Minnesota passed a law requiring the state’s power utilities to supply customers with 100 percent clean electricity by 2040 — one of the more ambitious clean energy standards in the…
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The U.S. Has Billions for Wind and Solar Projects. Good Luck Plugging Them In

By Brad Plumer   02/23/23  
Plans to install 3,000 acres of solar panels in Kentucky and Virginia are delayed for years. Wind farms in Minnesota and North Dakota have been abruptly canceled. And programs to encourage Massachusetts and Maine residents…
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Climate change puts Theodore Roosevelt National Park in hot spot

By Walter Criswell   02/23/23  
Climate change’s impact on the United States often is highlighted in states such as Florida, where the effects can be seen more quickly by the general population. But what of the impacts on our own…
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50 states of solar incentives: North Dakota

By Ryan Kennedy   02/17/23  
Solar hasn’t yet taken hold in North Dakota, a state that relies more on wind power when it comes to renewable energy adoption.
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Biden-Harris Administration Delivers $728 Million in Historic Investments to Address Western Drought, Improve Climate Resilience

02/13/23  
Critical infrastructure investments under President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act to provide clean, reliable drinking water to communities and support water conservation in the Upper Colorado River Basin
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Cornett: Shoot Where the Duck is Going

By Steve Cornett   05/06/22  
In our part of the world, there are a lot of stock water ponds impounded behind watershed dams. They are a popular place for ducks to congregate and quack during the winter. As a kid,…
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Which States Are the Most Environmentally Friendly?

By Sarah Lozanova   05/05/22  
A majority of Americans see the effects of climate change in their own communities and believe the federal government should do more to stop them. Despite growing concern about the climate crisis, some states are…
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Burgum, sanford laud historic transfer of coal creek station, transmission line to rainbow energy, nexus line

05/02/22  
Gov. Doug Burgum and Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford today highlighted the benefits of reliable, affordable baseload coal power and innovative technologies such as carbon capture as they joined officials and workers at Coal Creek Station…
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8 Midwest states, including North Dakota, seek permanent waiver to sell E15 gas

By The Associated Press   05/01/22  
Governors from eight Midwest states asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Thursday for a permanent waiver that will allow each state to continue selling ethanol-blended gas year-round without restriction.
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Energy industry turning to carbon management to reach net zero, but could hit environmental hurdles

Rick r. Rothman and Kirstin E. Gibbs   04/26/22  
In December, the Biden-Harris administration signed an executive order that established five ambitious goals related to net-zero emissions. One of the ways the energy industry is seeking to meet those goals is through carbon capture…
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Mayors Outside South Dakota Interested in Fighting Climate Change

By Cory Allen Heidelberger   04/18/22  
Kate Wright, new exec of Climate Mayors, says the hundreds of mayors participating in the group’s effort to take local action to fight climate change are hoping to use the big Biden infrastructure program to…
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North Dakota Coal Counties Look At Dropping Wind Restrictions, But Snags Remain

By Adam Willis   04/17/22  
A pair of North Dakota coal counties that passed rules restricting the construction of new wind farms two years ago are hashing out new ordinances that could reopen the coveted areas for wind development.
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Demand for oil is spiking. So why are North Dakota rigs lying idle?

By Christa Case Bryant   04/15/22  
One reason American gas prices remain so high lies in the ruts of J&J Rental’s parking lot here in Watford City – the heart of North Dakota’s oil country.
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MISO finds broad benefits to building $10.4B of transmission projects to support 53 GW of clean energy

By Ethan Howland   04/07/22  
The Midcontinent Independent System Operator is advancing through its stakeholder process a $10.4 billion set of transmission lines that could support about 53 GW of wind, solar, hybrid and stand-alone battery projects.
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A wind energy company has pleaded guilty after killing at least 150 eagles

By Associated Press   04/06/22  
A wind energy company was sentenced to probation and ordered to pay more than $8 million in fines and restitution after at least 150 eagles were killed over the past decade at its wind farms…
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Spring Outlook: Drought to expand amid warmer conditions

03/17/22  
NOAA issued its U.S. Spring Outlook today and for the second year in a row, forecasters predict prolonged, persistent drought in the West where below-average precipitation is most likely. NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center — part…
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Oil Production Is Down In North Dakota

By Hami Arain   03/15/22  
As gas prices continue to rise, oil production has steadily decreased in the state of North Dakota and the United States. With the Biden administration’s ban on drilling permits and hydraulic fracturing on federal lands,…
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GOP North Dakota senator says he wants to tackle climate change Facebook Twitter Flipboard Email

01/26/22  
NPR's Steve Inskeep talks to Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota about climate change. Unlike some Republicans, Cramer says he's willing to combat the problem by reducing carbon emissions.
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Burgum urges National Credit Union Administration to support ag lending, revise proposed strategic plan

01/25/22  
Gov. Doug Burgum is urging the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) to remove language from its proposed 2022-2026 strategic plan that discourages credit unions from lending to farmers and ranchers. Citing “climate related financial risks,”…
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Don’t penalize ag over climate change concerns, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum warns credit union agency

By Jenny Schlecht   01/25/22  
Don’t use climate change as an excuse to make credit unions quit working with farmers and ranchers, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum has urged the National Credit Union Association.
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How coal holds on in America

By Joshua Partlow   01/17/22  
David Saggau, the chief executive of an energy cooperative, tried to explain the losing economics of running a coal-fired power plant to a North Dakota industry group more than a year ago.
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Where electric cars could help save coal

By Will Englund   11/09/21  
Disdain for electric cars runs deep in this state. In the Bakken oil fields, which have brought enormous riches to North Dakota, workers fume at them on Facebook discussion groups, calling them “worthless” or worse.…
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Basin Electric plans expansion of carbon capture system at synfuels plant

By Amy R. Sisk   09/09/21  
 Basin Electric Power Cooperative plans to expand the carbon capture system at its Great Plains Synfuels Plant near Beulah to contain as much as 70% of the carbon dioxide the facility generates.
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This Summer Was Hotter Than The Dust Bowl—Or Any Other Since Records Began

By Graison Dangor   09/09/21  
This summer was as hot as the Dust Bowl Summer of 1936—and technically slightly hotter—the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Tuesday, making 2021’s the hottest since records began in 1895 and adding another milestone to a…
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Otter Tail Power plans to pull out of North Dakota coal plant

By Jackie Crosby   09/02/21  
Otter Tail Power Co., a utility that covers western Minnesota, plans to pull out of a coal-fired plant it operates in North Dakota by 2028 as it moves toward adding more sources of renewable energy.
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ND Transmission Authority Report shows wind power going up, and coal going down

By Jacob Notermann   08/30/21  
 North Dakota is among the largest energy producers in the county, and many state and industry leaders are trying to install more renewable sources into transmission lines.
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North Dakota a top-10 state in renewable energy creation

By Michael Anthony   08/27/21  
 North Dakota’s electricity consumption primarily comes from Coal and Natural Gas, but over the past decade, many wind farms have begun to popup throughout the state.
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‘The Worst Thing I Can Ever Remember’: How Drought Is Crushing Ranchers

By Henry Fountain   08/25/21  
Darrell Rice stood in a field of corn he’d planted in early June, to be harvested in the fall and chopped up to feed the hundreds of cows and calves he raises in central North…
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‘The Worst Thing I Can Ever Remember’: How Drought Is Crushing Ranchers

By Henry Fountain   08/25/21  
 Darrell Rice stood in a field of corn he’d planted in early June, to be harvested in the fall and chopped up to feed the hundreds of cows and calves he raises in central North…
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Stung by climate change: drought-weakened bee colonies shrink U.S. honey crop, threaten almonds

By Karl Plume   08/20/21  
There was barely a buzz in the air as John Miller pried the lid off of a crate, one of several "bee boxes" stacked in eight neat piles beside a cattle grazing pasture outside Gackle,…
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Burying carbon dioxide deep in North Dakota’s geology may combat climate change. Is it financially feasible?

By Adam Willis   08/02/21  
North Dakota's budding roster of carbon capture projects aim to scrub the emissions of the state's coal and ethanol industries, and even achieve carbon negative oil production.
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A Lifeline for a Coal Plant Gives Hope to a North Dakota Town.

By Dan Gearino   07/17/21  
In a town with fewer than 1,000 people, losing an employer tied to about 700 jobs is a kind of death, and that’s what Underwood, North Dakota, was facing until two weeks ago. Great River…
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A Lifeline for a Coal Plant Gives Hope to a North Dakota Town. Others See It as a Boondoggle

By Dan Gearino   07/17/21  
In a town with fewer than 1,000 people, losing an employer tied to about 700 jobs is a kind of death, and that’s what Underwood, North Dakota, was facing until two weeks ago.
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North Dakota sues federal govt over canceled oil and gas leasing

By Laila Kearney and Andrea Ricci   07/08/21  
 North Dakota is suing the U.S. government on claims the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management illegally canceled oil and gas lease auctions in the state.
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North Dakota, Using Taxpayer Funds, Bailed Out Oil and Gas Companies by Plugging Abandoned Wells

By Nicholas Kusnetz   05/23/21  
When North Dakota directed more than $66 million in federal pandemic relief funds to clean up old oil and gas wells last year, it seemed like the type of program everyone could get behind. The…
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Severe Drought, Worsened by Climate Change, Ravages the American West

By Henry Fountain   05/19/21  
Heat and shifting weather patterns have intensified wildfires and sharply reduced water supplies across the Southwest, the Pacific Coast and North Dakota.
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As the Climate Warms, Could the U.S. Face Another Dust Bowl?

By Nathaniel Scharping   05/13/21  
Growing up in rural Iowa in the 1990s, Isaac Larsen remembers a unique herald of springtime. The snowbanks piled along roads, once white or gray, would turn black. The culprit was windblown dust, stirred from…
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Gov. Doug Burgum calls for North Dakota to be carbon neutral by 2030

By Adam Willis   05/12/21  
Speaking to oil industry operators and executives, Gov. Doug Burgum announced a goal Wednesday, May 12, to get North Dakota to carbon neutrality by 2030 while retaining the core position of its fossil fuel industries.…
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Federal Gov’t calls on N.D. lignite to answer domestic supply shortage of critical minerals

By Josh Meny   05/03/21  
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awarded $1.5 million to the University of North Dakota’s Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) to support the production of rare earth elements and critical minerals vital to the…
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North Dakota lawmakers throw lifelines to the coal industry

By Adam Willis   05/02/21  
Preserving North Dakota's declining coal industry was a priority mission for state lawmakers when they arrived in Bismarck on Jan. 5, and in the months since, the Legislature has taken historic steps to slash taxes…
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Global warming perceptions by state: Most Americans accept human fault

By Dante Chinni   04/26/21  
It's been more than 50 years since the words "Earth Day" entered the country's environmental lexicon, and polling data show there is an increasing understanding that humans do, in fact, play a large role in…
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North Dakota governor approves fund for cleaner energy projects

By Adam Willis   04/26/21  
The creation of a fund overseen by a newly formed Clean Sustainable Energy Authority is part of broader efforts by North Dakota officials to respond to shifting political and financial winds that have put the…
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Study: Drought-breaking rains more rare, erratic in US West

By Matthew Brown   04/07/21  
Rainstorms grew more erratic and droughts much longer across most of the U.S. West over the past half-century as climate change warmed the planet, according to a sweeping government study released Tuesday that concludes the…
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Biden to pause oil and gas sales on public lands

By Matthew Daly   01/27/21  
President Joe Biden is set to announce a wide-ranging moratorium on new oil and gas leasing on U.S. lands and waters, as his administration moves quickly to reverse Trump administration policies on energy and the…
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