Axness and Reisenauer introduce “VIP Plan” to restore accountability to pipeline oversight

Axness and Reisenauer introduce “VIP Plan” to restore accountability to pipeline oversight

PSC candidates unveil “VIP Plan” that streamlines, simplifies, and modernizes pipeline management and oversight; ends state government waste and duplication.

(FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: JUNE 12, 2014 – BISMARCK, ND) – Saying its time to restore common sense management to the North Dakota’s pipeline system, Public Service Commission (PSC) candidates Tyler Axness and Todd Reisenauer announced today their proposal to make the PSC the single point of responsibility for pipeline management and oversight within state government.

There are currently five state government entities, along with the federal government that are involved in overseeing pipelines within North Dakota. The breakdown in the system was evident in the response to the historic Tioga oil spill in September 2013. Immediately following that spill, which was one of the largest inland oil pipeline accidents in U.S. history, PSC Chairman Brian Kalk stated: “There is such a quagmire of jurisdictional responsibility for pipelines, it’s a challenge when an incident occurs and who is responsible to do the investigation to see what happened.”

“North Dakota’s jurisdictional authority is so chaotic that it would more accurately be described as a bureaucratic disaster,” says Axness. “The current system defies common sense.”

Axness and Reisenauer promise to cut through the red tape by implementing “The VIP Plan.” VIP stands for the Verification of the Integrity of Pipelines. The VIP Plan consists of four basic elements:

1) Pipeline Audit: The PSC will pursue a pipeline audit of all pipelines in the state that will be used to develop a new pipeline infrastructure map.

2) Single Point of Responsibility: The PSC will ask the 2015 Legislature to consolidate jurisdiction of all pipelines and place authority with the PSC.

3) Improve Partnerships to Maximize Efficiency: The PSC will work to improve partnerships with the federal government, private industry, landowners, and municipalities in order to simplify, modernize, and make more efficient the current oversight process.

4) Fully Exercise the PSC’s Authority: The PSC will fully exercise its existing jurisdiction and authority as provided in the North Dakota Century Code (NDCC 49-02), which vests the PSC with the oversight of “pipeline utilities engaged in the transportation of gas, oil, coal, and water.”

Both candidates argue that as the state’s designated and elected regulatory body, the PSC is the logical entity to oversee and manage all pipelines.

“Smart and efficient government should always strive to respect the taxpayer by eliminating unnecessary bureaucracy,” said Reisenauer. “By creating a single point of pipeline responsibility we will improve partnerships among landowners, operators, and contractors.”

Axness says: “The current PSC is creating confusion for landowners and for private industry looking to invest in our state. A glaring example of the current PSC’s failure is the construction of an illegal natural gas pipeline that had been operating for over two years before the PSC became aware of its existence. That was a colossal failure by the Public Service Commission.”

Reisenauer states that that failure and others reflects a larger problem in state government today. “North Dakota is changing and Bismarck is just failing to provide new leadership and new ideas to meet our state’s new challenges. Right now, every PSC member is thinking the same. What Senator Axness and I are proposing is a new idea that will meet one of our most important infrastructure challenges.”

Axness adds: “The VIP Plan provides clarity for industry and certainty for citizens. But our idea, and other sensible solutions, can only become reality only if we bring balance and bipartisanship back to Bismarck,” stated Axness.

Axness is seeking the special two-year term on the PSC. Originally from Leeds, Axness represents Fargo’s District 16 in the North Dakota Senate and is the communication and policy coordinator for the Freedom Resource Center. Reisenauer, an independent business consultant with extensive experience in business development, is seeking the six-year term on the PSC. He is originally from Dickinson and now lives in Fargo.

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From: Dem-NPL News

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