North Dakota's mineral resources director says activity in the oil patch has reached what he’s calling an “efficiency mode.”
“We have really settled in to a high rate of drilling in the basin," Lynn Helms told the Legislature's interim Government Finance Committee. "But it's no longer escalating at the straight upward trend. I think that's good news for the infrastructure of western North Dakota. It gives us an opportunity to catch up. It's good news for the department. It's good news for the industry.”
Representatives of western North Dakota counties impacted by oil development are working on regional planning.
The VisionWest ND Consortium met in Minot Thursday to discuss the issues that cross county lines – and coming up with plans on how to deal with those issues.
“Housing is the first and foremost," said Karalee Cox, a planner with Arizona-based “Building Communities” – the firm the consortium hired to help with the planning process. "Water, child care, transportation and emergency services -- those were identified as the most pressing issues across the region."
The state Industrial Commission has approved a policy dealing with oil development around identified “extraordinary places” in the oil patch.
But the policy doesn’t go as far as some hoped.
The original policy – as proposed by Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem -- would have allowed public comment on oil development on about one-point-two million acres of land in western North Dakota. That would include public and private land. The Commission decided to only include public land.