State mineral resources director Lynn Helms says it may be a little while before the EPA will issue guidance on rules for hydraulic fracturing.
"Their initial goal was to finalize that rule by the end of this year," said Helms. "It's going to be, we think, close to mid-year next year before they can publish a final rule."
Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” along with horizontal drilling, has spurred the oil boom in the Bakken. Helms says the US Forest Service has also proposed fracking rules – and he says both have received thousands of comments.
"Hydraulic fracturing remains the forefront issue in terms of unconventional resource development," said Helms. "Two rules here have received almost 300,000 comments."
Helms says in advance of the federal action, his office has been building an inventory of drilling permits.
"We want to make sure there's an inventory of drilling permits already approved that wouldn't be affected by a requirement that the state write rules," Helms said. "Our goal is to maintain an inventory of permits that will allow activity to go on, even if we have to pause to write state rules to deal with fracturing."