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ND still waiting for a federal decision on oil by rail dispute with Washington State

Dave Thompson
Prairie Public

North Dakota is awaiting a decision from federal regulators on Washington state’s new law that essentially bans accepting Bakken crude by rail.

North Dakota wants the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to block that law.

But state mineral resources director Lynn Helms is optimistic.

"That would be a great gift before the end of the year," Helms said.

Helms said PHMSA has until April 20th to make a decision.

"I don't think they'll take that long," Helms said.

State officials are hoping to avoid taking the matter to the courts. But Helms said the approach the state has taken would put any legal action into the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, instead of the "northern California circuit."

"There, it's much less likely the state of Washington would be able to overturn PHMSA's decision," Helms said. "It's kind of double-stacked that way."

At least one Puget Sound refinery has cut back on shipments of Bakken crude because of that ban.

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