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The proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada has cleared a significant hurdle...
     WASHINGTON (AP) - The proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada has cleared a significant hurdle after the State Department raised no major environmental objections to its construction. The report gives the Obama administration political cover if it chooses to endorse the pipeline in spite of opposition from many Democrats and environmental groups. State Department approval of the project is needed because it crosses a U.S. border. A decision is not expected before this summer.

     FARGO, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota's congressional delegation says a favorable environmental report for the Keystone XL oil pipeline gives President Obama no reason to hold back the project. Opponents are disappointed by the findings.  The State Department report issued Friday raised no major environmental objections to pipeline construction.
     Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp says she will continue to press the administration to approve the pipeline. Republican Sen. John Hoeven says the report affirms the "need to begin construction without delay."
     Bob Banderet is a landowner in southeastern North Dakota, near the first Keystone pipeline. He says he's still having problems with reclamation of his land and believes Nebraska residents will have the same problems with the Keystone XL.  Banderet says he was hoping the report would expose more potential environmental problems.


     BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - A Canadian company has slated meetings in Minot and Grand Forks to discuss its emergency response procedures for a proposed pipeline that would move North Dakota oil to Minnesota and Wisconsin.  The meetings for Enbridge Energy's Sandpiper pipeline are slated for Wednesday at the Minot Auditorium and Thursday at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks.
     The Calgary, Alberta-based company is proposing the $2.6 billion, 612-mile pipeline to carry 225,000 barrels of oil daily to a hub in northern Minnesota and 375,000 barrels to one in northwestern Wisconsin.  North Dakota's portion of the pipeline is 299 miles.  

     GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) - A Grand Forks attorney accused of conspiring with two other men to kill a confidential informant has been suspended from practicing law in North Dakota.  A disciplinary board of the state Supreme Court issued the order on Friday. It says that "sufficient information exists that Henry Howe poses a substantial threat of irreparable harm to the public."
     Howe was charged Thursday on a felony count of conspiracy to commit murder, along with Paul Lysengen, of Warsaw, and Wesley Smith, of St. Thomas.   Howe was admitted to practice law in North Dakota on July 27, 1973.


     BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - A Bismarck man has been sentenced to 20 days in jail for using his girlfriend's 11-year-old daughter to help him shoplift.  The Bismarck Tribune reports that 37-year-old Juan Castro pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
     Castro will be on probation for two years following his jail stint. South Central District Judge Gail Hagerty also ordered him to complete a parenting class.  The girl was released to her mother following the incident at a Wal-Mart store Tuesday.


     BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - A convicted felon found to have seven weapons and 15 different brands of ammunition in his possession has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison.  Steven Scranage pleaded guilty in November to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He was prohibited from having weapons because of felony convictions in Montana for assault in 2000 and criminal possession of dangerous drugs in 2005.
     Scranage was arrested last May at his North Dakota residence across the border from Fairview, Mont. In addition to the weapons and ammunition, officers found a bulletproof vest in a hole under the residence and about six ounces of marijuana.
     U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland sentenced the 47-year-old Scranage to three years and 10 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release.


     FARGO, N.D. (AP) - A North Dakota man has pleaded not guilty in federal court to threatening girls if they didn't agree to engage in sexually explicit conduct for child pornography he was producing.
     Dustin Coleman of Wahpeton appeared in court Friday morning. He is charged with eight counts in North Dakota's first prosecution of so-called "sextortion," which involves using intimidation or fear to gain sexual favors.
     Coleman is charged with three counts of sexual exploitation of minors, three counts of possession of materials containing child pornography and two counts of extortion.  Trial is scheduled for April 8th.  A spokesman for the federal public defender's office was not immediately available for comment.

     BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The federal government has earmarked another $1.3 million to help people on reservations in the Dakotas heat their homes. But the leader of the Standing Rock Sioux says the money might not be enough to deal with a propane crisis on that reservation. He says a tribal heating program already has less money this winter due to federal budget cuts.

   (Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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