Kroshus: State law on siting energy facilities may need a review

Jul 31, 2017

Public Service Commissioners Brian Kroshus (l), Randy Christmann and Julie Fedorchak.
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Some members of the North Dakota Public Service Commission think the state’s energy siting laws may need to be reviewed – after a natural gas processing plant was allowed to undergo a huge expansion.

Oasis Midstream is increasing its Wild Basin Gas processing plant in McKenzie County from 80 million cubic feet of gas per day – to 280 million cubic feet per day. That plant opened in 2016. The state’s siting law says gas processing plants under the 100 million cubic feet per day threshold do not have to be sited by the PSC. And the Commission members had some questions about whether this was an attempt to get around the siting law. Oasis told the PSC it wasn’t – things changed in the Bakken, more gas was being produced in high-yield wells, and Oasis decided it needed to expand.

Commissioner Brian Kroshus said while he accepts the explanation, it still may mean the siting laws need to be re-examined.

"Are they set too high?" asked Kroshus. "As a regulator, you do have to ask that question."

Kroshus said companies can't expect projects to be rubber-stamped.

"The job of a regulator isn't to be a cheerleader for industry," Kroshus said. "It's to watch over industry."

Kroshus said he's not anti-infrastructure -- he just wants to make sure it's done the right way.