Ryan Taylor seems to have made a pretty big gaffe in his quest to become North Dakota’s next Commissioner of Agriculture (and get a seat on the State Industrial Commission overseeing oil and gas development).
Last week Taylor wrote a newspaper column blasting the current, all-Republican Industrial Commission (which includes his opponent, incumbent Doug Goehring) for failing to implement flow meters and pressure cutoff valves. Taylor said such measures would have prevented the recent saltwater pipeline spill near Mandaree.
“The solace for the community, local agriculture and for North Dakota is that the beavers had it under control,” quipped Taylor, who noted that it was beaver dams which kept that spill out of Lake Sakakawea. “Three weeks before the Mandaree spill, I proposed a Landowner Bill of Rights, and one of the planks to protect landowners is a requirement for flow meters and pressure cutoff switches on saltwater lines that cross our farms and ranches. Such requirements would protect the land from sterilization that can last generations, and our waters from contamination.”
Here’s the problem: It turns out the Mandaree pipeline already had flow meters and pressure cut off switches, and they didn’t stope the spill. Something Goehring points out in a press release today:
“In his hurry to rush to judgment, Democrat Commissioner of Agriculture candidate Ryan Taylor forgets to check his facts. The Mandaree spill happened on tribal lands where the state has very little regulatory authority. More importantly, the pipeline responsible for this spill was equipped with multiple flow meters and pressure cutoff switches.
The Mandaree saltwater spill highlights what I have said all along, these technologies are not very effective methods of preventing or limiting the impact of spills. Even Taylor’s own party recognized that last session, when 22 of the 23 Democrat members in the North Dakota House of Representatives voted against mandating this questionable technology.
Yikes, that’s not good for Taylor. He’s campaigning on a platform of a more competent sort of regulation, but competency starts with having your facts straight, and it looks like Taylor shot his mouth off based on inaccurate information.
It also doesn’t speak well for Taylor’s plan for addressing pipeline leaks. The technology he’s touting apparently didn’t work in Mandaree, something maybe his fellow Democrats knew when they (as I pointed out last week) voted overwhelmingly with Republicans to shoot down a requirement for flow meters and pressure cutoff switches last year.
The Agriculture Commission race looks to be one of the closest races in the state this year. Probably the closest. But it won’t be that close if Taylor keeps making mistakes like this one.