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N.D. oil patch twice as big as first thought

MPR’s Dan Gunderson files a story on new data showing North Dakota’s oil patch is bigger than first thought: “The U.S. Geological Survey is significantly increasing its assessment of oil and gas reserves in the Williston basin of North Dakota. In the past five years, more than 4,000 new wells in the Williston area have offered new information about the subsurface geology and the potential for oil and gas. … ‘Together the Bakken and Three Forks formations contain an estimated mean of 7.4 billion barrel of undiscovered technically recoverable oil. This assessment is a two-fold increase from the 2008 assessment,’ [USGS acting director Suzette] Kimball said.”

“Limping badly” is Stribber Lori Sturdevant’s description of tax reform at the Legislature: “The Minnesota Senate’s base-broadening, rate-lowering tax reform is limping badly as it heads into conference committee to tangle with the more conventional DFL revenue-raising ideas of Gov. Mark Dayton and the state House. The fact that it took two tries to pass the Senate’s $1.8 billion tax package Monday, and then by a tepid 35-31 vote, revealed weak support among suburban DFLers for reform ideas that have been faulted by Dayton as well as Republicans for pinching the middle class. The beating the Senate bill took illustrates why economists’ advice to lower tax rates and broaden the range of tax-triggering activities has been so hard for politicians to follow.”

The Health Exchange board has been announced. Rachel Stassen-Berger of the Strib says: “Seven Minnesotans — including a General Mills vice president, retired union executive, state human services commissioner — will take on the task of guiding the future of health care in Minnesota. On Tuesday, DFL Gov. Mark Dayton appointed the seven board members to the MNsure board. … When asked, at least one board member stepped up to agree with Dayton’s earlier declaration that it is a gamble. ‘It is a gamble absolutely. We are chartering something,’ said Brian Beutner, a CEO of mPay Gateway. mPay is a healthcare software company. ‘Our charge is to make it work for as many people as well as possible.’ Although several of the members have connections to unions and the health care industry, Dayton’s office said: ‘all appointed members of the board have demonstrated that they do not have any conflicts of interest.’ Board members indicated that there are both Democrats and Republican among their ranks.”

Like MinnPost’s Doug Grow, Rachel also reports on the governor’s unpleasant night in Shakopee: “In Shakopee on Monday night, Gov. Mark Dayton found an unfriendly, and in his words, rudely behaved audience. During one of his “Meetings with Mark,” open forums he has held across the state, he spoke of his belief that lawmakers should get a raise in pay. As he was explaining why, the audience heckled and interrupted him. ‘Let me just finish,’ he objected, according to video recorded by the Minnesota Jobs Coalition. ‘I’ve been all over the state and I’ve never had people behave this rudely. You know, if you want to say something, raise your hand and get a mic.’ Asked about the comment, the governor said on Tuesday that members of the audience did not just disagree with him they displayed ‘very juvenile kind of behavior,’ which reminded him of the 9th graders he taught in a New York City public school decades ago.”

The GleanAnd another shot of snow won’t help … The AP says: “Despite the sudden warm weather, Minnesota farmers are still waiting for the chance to get into their fields. In its weekly crops and weather report for the state, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Minnesota farmers have managed to begin only very limited field work, mainly on higher ground and well-drained fields. Flooding is still a concern, especially in the Red River Valley. Muddy conditions are slowing pasture growth. Producers continue to expect full-scale fieldwork to begin around May 7, about 2 1/2 weeks later than the five-year average.”

The search for Kira Trevino has switched back to Keller Lake. At the PiPress, Mara Gottfried says: “The sheriff’s office water patrol searched Tuesday with a boat and side sonar, said Randy Gustafson, sheriff’s office spokesman. They were on the lake for more than three hours and didn’t find anything after a thorough search, he said. ‘We’d really like to find Kira,’ Gustafson said. … Meanwhile, private donors have put up a $1,000 reward for the person who finds Trevino’s body, as they try to motivate volunteers to search, according to Jodie Leko, a search organizer. Volunteers have been conducting searches each weekend.”

The AP also has a story on changes of school-age kids immunizations: “Health officials want to add the hepatitis A and B vaccine for children enrolled in child care or school-based early childhood learning programs. They would also replace the 7th grade tetanus-diphtheria vaccine with one that also includes pertussis. And, health officials propose requiring a meningococcal vaccination beginning in 7th grade.”

This has to count more than bait … The AP says: “Data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service show that direct spending by resident and nonresident anglers in Minnesota totaled $2.4 billion in 2011. That’s the latest year for which information is available. That amount includes $1.4 billion on equipment and $925 million on trip-related spending. The agency also says angler spending supports about 35,000 Minnesota jobs. However, the federal [agency] also found that angler spending declined by $315 million since the last survey, in 2006.” “Equipment” could mean the giant truck to tow the giant boat, right?

What can you say …? Jerome Christenson of the Winona Daily News reports: “A shooting accident sent a local firearms instructor to the hospital with injuries to his left hand. Fred Petersen, 66, of rural Stockton was showing his wife a .38 Special handgun Thursday morning in their home, Winona County Sheriff Dave Brand said. Brand said Petersen had cleaned the pistol and was putting it into a holster when Petersen’s wife asked him whether it was possible to pull the trigger when the weapon was holstered. In attempting to answer that question, Petersen triggered the action while holding the gun and holster in his left hand, accidentally firing a shot. The slug struck his left index finger between the first and second joint, damaging the bone, Brand said.” I’d say he’s qualified to provide school security.

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