Legislator: North Dakota commission lacks authority for ‘special places’ designations


By Rob Port | North Dakota Watchdog

QUESTIONING AUTHORITY: State Rep. Roscoe Streyle (R-Minot) questions the authority of North Dakota’s State Industrial Commission to create additional regulatory burdens for energy development near “special places”

BISMARCK, N.D. — State Rep. Roscoe Streyle questions whether the State Industrial Commission has the legal authority to create new “special places” regulations for oil development, and is calling on the commissioners to bring their proposal to the Legislature.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, a member of the commission along with Gov. Jack Dalrymple and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, has proposed a list of locations with cultural or other sorts of significance in North Dakota around which energy development should face additional regulatory scrutiny. But according to Streyle, the SIC doesn’t have the authority to create additional regulatory burdens.

“I don’t see it in code,” Streyle, a Minot Republican, said in an interview.

He said the Legislature normally would request a legal opinion on this question of law, but with the policy coming from the attorney general himself, that process isn’t likely to be impartial.

He also said that the additional scrutiny isn’t necessary. “We’ve got plenty of regulations,” he said. “Why do we need to add these sites?”

Those words echo sentiments expressed by Goehring, who also questions the justification for the additional regulations.

“We’ve always had a process in place,” Goehring told the Bismarck Tribune. He also is expressing concern about the impact of these regulations on private property owners near the designated areas.

Streyle isn’t the only legislator questioning the plan. State Sen. Kelly Armstrong, R-Dickinson, also questioned the policy in a letter sent to the commission dated Jan. 16.

“Often in North Dakota we condemn regulatory overreach from Federal Agencies,” Armstrong wrote to the commissioners. “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.”

Streyle said he agrees with Armstrong’s letter, adding the commission should bring the matter to the Legislature for approval.

Stenehjem declined to be interviews, saying he would be willing to speak after it has been finalized.

Contact Rob Port at rport@watchdog.org

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