Private property taken out of 'extraordinary places' initiative

Mar 4, 2014

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.

“It has a lot of value in terms of assuring people that over the long term, we are aware of these certain areas, and we are interested in them," said Gov. Jack Dalrymple, who proposed the compromise.

Now the policy will affect about half the acreage -- about 600,000 acres. Dalrymple says the issue of whether comment can be made on private lands is a policy issue that the Legislature has not yet addressed.

“It is potentially a policy question, and not one that we should take lightly,” said Dalrymple.

The Commission vote was unanimous.

“This isn't as extensive as I proposed," said Stenehjem. "It does have the advantage in that it can pass, number one. And nunber two, it'll give us a chance to see if it works, and give us a track record to see what happens."

Dalrymple asked the state Department of Mineral Resources to present a report to the Industrial Commission by the end of the year. He says the Commission could then decide to ask the Legislature for guidance.