State Senator Blisters Industrial Commission Over "Special Places" Designations

State Rep. Roscoe Streyle (R-Minot) had a column here on SAB and in various newspapers around the state criticizing Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem’s plan for “special places” land designations that would apply more onerous regulations to the development of mineral resources near those places. Currently it’s just a proposal, brought to the commission by Stenehjem, and so far Commissioner Doug Goehring is opposed while Governor Jack Dalrymple hasn’t made up his mind yet.

But it’s not just Streyle opposing the plan. State Senator Kelly Armstrong (R-Dickinson) sent a blistering letter to the commission this week accusing them of regulatory overreach.

Here’s an excerpt. You can read the whole thing below.

Often in North Dakota we condemn regulatory overreach from Federal Agencies. Indeed, I have listened as members of this commission have given speeches railing against the overbearing tactics of the EPA and The U.S. Forest Service. However, it appears by the creation of this rule, we are saying that regulatory overreach is fine, as long as it is a North Dakota regulatory agency initiating the rule.

Stenehjem’s plan wouldn’t necessarily prohibit oil development in the buffer zones his plan would create around the “special places.” And the hurdles the plan would have oil companies jumping through are duplicative, according to Commissioner Goehring:

Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring asked whether the proposal would duplicate what’s already being done. He said the Department of Mineral Resources already has a checklist to use in reviewing drilling permits.

“We’ve always had a process in place,” Goehring said.

He also said a large portion of land along the Little Missouri River is privately owned.

“I have a great deal of concern about the Little Missouri,” Goehring said.

I’ll have Rep. Streyle on the radio with me on WDAY AM970 Monday while I’m guest hosting to talk about this issue. I invited AG Stenehjem on as well, but he declined. “I’m happy to visit about this in due course, but not quite yet,” he told me in an email. “The proposal so far is just that, and is subject to many revisions before it is ready for public comment. I expect the matter to be discussed at our next Industrial Commission meeting, and there are likely to be changes based on input I’ve been getting from lots of sources in the last while.”

Here are the “places” that are a part of Stenehjem’s list:

  • Theodore Roosevelt National Park, all three units
  • Lake Sakakawea, the Missouri River Valley above the lake, and the Yellowstone River Valley
  • All non-motorized areas of the Little Missouri National Grasslands, including interior and adjacent state lands
  • National Wildlife Refuges, Federal Waterfowl Production Areas, and other areas identified by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as critical habitat areas
  • National Historic Sites, Districts and Landmarks
  • North Dakota State Parks, Forests, Recreation Areas, Preserves, Natural Areas and other lands managed by the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department or State Forestry Department
  • North Dakota State Historic Sites and other historic areas managed, or identified as having historical significance, by the State Historical Society of North Dakota
  • North Dakota Wildlife Management Areas and other areas identified as critical habitat by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department
  • North Dakota State School Lands (already included in this category and already  subject to stipulations)
  • The Little Missouri State Scenic River Valley
  • The Killdeer Mountains
  • The west slope of the Turtle Mountains
  • The Maah Daah Hey Trail
  • Paleontological sites in Bowman and Slope Counties
  • Knife River Flint Quarries
  • Areas identified by the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commissioner or Tribal officials as having historical, religious or other special significance to Native American Tribes
  • Bad Lands scenic areas such as White Butte, Chalky Buttes, Black Butte, Square Butte, Sentinel Butte, Camel’s Hump Butte, Pretty Butte, the Teepee Buttes, the Burning Coal Vein area, the Ponderosa Pine, Limber Pine and Columnar Juniper areas, and Tracy Mountain

Ind. Commission Letter

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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