Prosecution Of ND Oil Companies Over Dead Ducks Mentioned In Presidential Debate
Here in North Dakota Democrats are desperately trying to portray themselves as oil-friendly. Liberal Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp, specifically, has worked long and hard to paint herself as an ally of oil production even going so far as to demand the resignation of two of Obama’s cabinet secretaries.
But just last year a North Dakota Democrat, one of the state party’s national committee members no less, tried to prosecute a group of oil companies in the state over a couple of dozen dead ducks. Tim Purdon, shortly after being appointed to serve as US Attorney for North Dakota, brought criminal charges under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act against the companies because after a months-long investigation by federal officials some 28 ducks were found dead near some of their operations.
We covered the issue extensively here on SAB – in fact this blog provided about the only coverage of Purdon’s misguided legal crusade – but tonight it was mentioned by President Mitt Romney during the presidential debate. From the transcript:
Well, let’s look at the president’s policies, all right, as opposed to the rhetoric, because we’ve had four years of policies being played out. And the president’s right in terms of the additional oil production, but none of it came on federal land. As a matter of fact, oil production is down 14 percent this year on federal land, and gas production was down 9 percent. Why? Because the president cut in half the number of licenses and permits for drilling on federal lands, and in federal waters.
So where’d the increase come from? Well a lot of it came from the Bakken Range in North Dakota. What was his participation there? The administration brought a criminal action against the people drilling up there for oil, this massive new resource we have. And what was the cost? 20 or 25 birds were killed and brought out a migratory bird act to go after them on a criminal basis.
USA Today “fact checks” the claim made by Mitt Romney, though they get one of their own facts wrong in the process. None of the birds were endangered.
Claim: The Obama administration brought criminal charges against North Dakota oil companies for killing a handful of birds.
Facts: The U.S. attorney in North Dakota last year charged seven oil companies with misdemeanor violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which carries a $15,000 fine, in connection with the death of 28 endangered birds.
The birds reportedly flew into open oil pits that they mistook for ponds, or were poisoned by oil that spilled into nearby wetlands.
Charges against three companies were dismissed in January.
Three other defendants reached plea agreements, and the charges against the final company were dropped by the government.
As the article states the charges were thrown out of federal court, humiliating Purdon and getting him named “Dodo of the Year” by the Wall Street Journal, and while he’s made noises about appealing, that hasn’t happened in the months since the case was dismissed.
Democrats up to and including Heitkamp have been very, very quiet about Purdon’s little crusade, yet it’s an example of how their party seeks to stifle energy production with legislation, regulation and legal battle in the courts.Tags: bakken, Barack Obama, election 2012, Heidi Heitkamp, North Dakota News, oil, tim purdon