Drilling Ahead

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Judge Dismisses Federal Charges Against Oil Company Execs For Death Of 7 North Dakota Birds

Says PhobeJanuary 19, 2012

A Federal judge has dismissed misdemeanor charges against three oil companies including Continental Resources in federal court.

The charges stem from the deaths of North Dakota  birds found in a drilling reserve pit

Prosecutors went to far by filing charges in federal court based on a law the protects migratory birds according to U.S District Judge Daniel Hovland who stated the deaths of the seven birds were an "incidental or unintended effect" of oil drilling and production.

Continental CEO Harold Hamm explained,“We didn’t rig up an $8 million drilling rig out there intending to take wildlife. We’re certainly not out there hunting birds.”

Continental was charged with the death of a single bird known as a "say’s phoebe".

The seven birds were trapped in an open reserve pit used to store waste fluids and cuttings during drilling operations.

The pits are legal in North Dakota, but if left open for more than 3 months after drilling operations are completed they must be protected with a fence and netting.

North Dakota's industrial Industrial Commission is working to reduce the number of pits in the state.




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