KEEPING OUR WATER Kudos the the U.S. Senate for putting the brakes on a plan by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to charge fees for access to water in upper Missouri River reservoirs. The Senate last week passed an amendment to the 2013 Water Resources Development Act prohibiting the Corps from charging states like North Dakota and South Dakota to maintain access to water. Politicians from a number of states including North Dakota argued successfully that the water already legally belongs to the states, so charging a fee would be inappropriate, citing states' rights to waters that naturally flow through their land. Communities and tribes up and down the Missouri River system depend on water from the river for municipal use and as a source of drinking water. Let's hope the amendment, which now goes to the House, puts an end to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' idea of charging states for water that already belongs to them.
GAS PRICES SKYROCKET It's a week before Memorial Day, and not surprisingly, gas prices were on the rise last week in Minot and other locations. The average price of gas in the area quickly shot up last week from $3.59 in some places to $3.99 and beyond, and some stations in Bismarck and Minot were charging $4.19 late last week. The reason for the price surge, according to industry officials, is that several refineries that provide products to this region are shut down for maintenance or upgrades, and a fire at a refinery in Minnesota also contributed to a short supply. Officials also believe the spike will be short-lived, and expect to see prices drop 30 to 50 cents just as quickly as they rose. Based on past experiences, we won't be holding our breath for that to happen.