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Helmut Schmidt, Published February 24 2014

Fargo state senator Axness to seek backing for ND PSC

FARGO – Tyler Axness, the first-term state senator for District 16, will seek the Democratic-NPL endorsement to run for a two-year seat on the Public Service Commission.

Axness said Monday he will hold news conferences in Fargo and Bismarck today to officially announce his candidacy for the state regulatory commission.

“The PSC oversees a lot of the energy that is being produced in North Dakota,” Axness said. “Unfortunately, the current members have had an inadequate presence in watching this development transpire in a way that’s benefitting North Dakotans.”

Axness said the massive oil pipeline leak in Tioga, the train derailment on the western edge of Casselton and placement of oil pits above the drinking water supply for Ross are indicators the PSC is not doing its job.

“We’ve been governing this with our fingers crossed in the hopes that if we just sit back, things will work themselves out,” he said.

Axness said the state needs to do long-term planning in handling its energy resources.

Oil, gas, coal and other natural resources are a one-time harvest, he said.

“If we don’t plan accordingly, we could lose this opportunity and look back and wonder, what happened?” he said.

Axness was elected to the Senate in 2012. His district represents parts of west and southwest Fargo and West Fargo.

The 27-year-old graduated from high school in Leeds and attended North Dakota State University, earning a bachelor’s degree in political science.

The PSC regulates a variety of industries in North Dakota, including electric and gas utilities, telecommunications, railroads, grain elevators and pipeline safety.

There are two PSC seats up for election this fall.

One seat has a six-year term. It is now held by Brian Kalk.

The second seat carries a two-year term. It is now held by Julie Fedorchak. She was appointed to the PSC by Gov. Jack Dalrymple in 2012 to take the place of Kevin Cramer, who was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. The two-year term fills out the remainder of the six-year term tied to the seat.

The third commissioner is Randy Christmann, who was elected to the PSC in 2012.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583