Oil Companies Charged in North Dakota
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife is charging seven oil companies in North Dakota under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Under federal law oil companies' pits are required to be bird proofed, by using nets, fences, or screens. Seven companies are being charged with the deaths of over 28 migratory birds between May and June. It is uncertain how many animal or mammal deaths are caused by the pits though.
Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, an industry association, said that protecting wildlife "is something the oil companies take seriously." Then he went on to say there are over 6,000 wells in the area, and that some might attract birds but others do not. With the winds in North Dakota it is hard to keep the nets over the pits. He also pointed out how birds are killed in other non oil industry ways, cars, power lines, the recent flooding.
The charges come after a plea issued last week by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for operators in North Dakota's oilfields to step up efforts to prevent depredation of migratory birds in skim pits, reserve pits and oilfield wastewater disposal facilities. With the coming fall migration they wanted to instill the importance of keeping the areas safe for all animals in the state, not just birds have died in the pits, but small mammals and even big game. The federal agency stated that keeping the netting secure goes a long way in protecting the state's wildlife.
The seven companies' first court date is September 22nd, in U.S. District Court in Bismarck. From TwinCities.com.