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FM Diversion and Dam Increases national debt

Situational Ethics Part 7

Jim Nyhof, Oxbow ND Mayor (on MN DNR)

The OHB (Oxbow, Hickson, Bakke) ring dike was not an original component of the Fargo Dam and FM Diversion project.

The Fargo Diversion Authority and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers tried to graft the OHB ring dike to the overall project during 2013.

Despite the USACE repeatedly saying from the outset that any property with over 3 foot of impact (now lowered to 2 foot) would be a required buyout, the policy was abandoned and argued with situational ethics to be a feature of the project and as “independent” utility.

Pondering the USACE impact policy requiring mandatory buyout and relocation, the rationale of leaving a community inside a staging reservoir surrounded by several feet of water, nearly equal in capacity to the maximum physical storage behind Baldhill Dam north of Valley City, ND – make a person question the sanity of the powers that be.

Come hell or high water, the OHB project is mitigation. With an undetermined final cost, the touted $65 million price tag presented to the public is nothing more than taillights on the horizon.

So if the project is truly “mitigation”…, why did Mr. Nyhof “flip” and become a cheerleader of the project that threatened his city residents and created the impacts requiring said mitigation? Mr. Nyhof could have easily remained opposed, that is, if that was his genuine position in the beginning.

Which makes this excerpt from Oxbow, ND mayor Jim Nyhof’s letter to the Fargo Forum “peculiar”:

“The Corps of Engineers has completed their environmental impact study that supports the staging area, the Minnesota DNR has recently completed a draft of their environmental impact study, which supports staging of water. Most importantly to Oxbow, both of these studies require a ring dike around Oxbow.” – Nyhof

If you have the time to read all 503 pages of the MNDNR State EIS Prelim Draft, have at it.

Download: DNR EIS Draft -(7.5 mb)

The MNDNR draft report contains a lot of information. However, is does not take a position on whether or not Oxbow “requires” a ring dike.

The MNDNR draft report simply acknowledges that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers modified the USACE Final Environmental Impact Statement to include a ring dike around the community of OHB.

MNDNR states:

“The ring levee is intended to eliminate the need to relocate these communities and prevent inundation.”

MNDNR draft report is also “very clear” on the following:

The purpose and need statements have been developed by the Diversion Authority to meet the needs of the state environmental review process and are not the same as those used in the FFREIS (Final Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement).

The EIS provides information and evaluation on potential environmental impacts resulting from the Project, as well as identifies possible need for additional mitigation measures.

The EIS is not a decision making document, but is to be used by governmental units as information and a guide for the permitting process (Minnesota Administrative Rule 4410.0300: Authority, Scope, Purpose, and Objectives).

All local and state government bodies identified in an environmental impact statement with permitting authority shall consider the report in making any decision to authorize the project according to Minnesota Rule 4410.7055.

No permits, approvals, nor can a project begin until environmental review is completed, including an EIS Determination of Adequacy by the MNDNR, according to Minnesota Rule 4410.3100.

Minnesota Statute 116D.04 subdivision 6, states:

No state action significantly affecting the quality of the environment shall be allowed, nor shall any permit for natural resources management and development be granted, where such action or permit has caused or is likely to cause pollution, impairment, or destruction of the air, water, land or other natural resources located within the state, so long as there is a feasible and prudent alternative consistent with the reasonable requirements of the public health, safety, and welfare and the state’s paramount concern for the protection of its air, water, land and other natural resources from pollution, impairment, or destruction. Economic considerations alone shall not justify such conduct.

If the MNDNR (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources) only examines the proposed project and feasible alternatives that can meet the proposer’s project purpose, and the proposed project purpose is not deemed appropriate or acceptable…, (kind of like when FEMA abandoned the Southside Flood Control Project because it violated Executive Order 11988), how does the Fargo Diversion Authority ever expect to obtain the required permitting for their nearly 12.5 mile wide Class 1 High Hazard Dam, creating the impacts at Oxbow that Mr. Nyhof is using to justify his “rock solid MOU” relating to huge buyouts, relocations and golf course mitigation?

Mr. Nyhof, self proclaims himself to be credible, honest and effective…, yet alleges a MNDNR determination that does not exist, for report that has not gone through a public comment period, which in the end – will require a permit for the Class 1 High Hazard Dam from another division of the MNDNR and other state agencies. Something that has not been accomplished in more than 20 years.


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