Dakota Resource Council is calling for improved regulation of oil and gas extraction in North Dakota as it releases a report, authored by Plains Justice President Carrie La Seur, describing the state’s regulatory environment and making recommendations for better standards and enforcement. The Grand Forks Herald reports on DRC’s call for action and links to the Herald’s own series on oil and gas extraction.
The report includes the following observations and recommendations:
- North Dakota needs a comprehensive pipeline safety regulatory scheme. There are numerous examples to draw on, from the Canadian regulatory structure to those in other states such as Iowa. The legislature would be wise to engage a pipeline safety engineer or an entity such as the Pipeline Safety Trust in its drafting process. Appropriate siting, construction, operation, maintenance, monitoring, emergency response, and abandonment provisions will ultimately create greater certainty for developers and ease the regulatory process. The benefits to the public, in terms of greater safety of operation, lowered risk of catastrophic spills, and timely, safe shutdown of pipelines at the end of their useful lives, without cost to the host landowner, will be great.
- To track possible contamination related to oil and gas activities, the state should also track water quality data from water bodies across the state and from municipal drinking water authorities, watching for signs that contaminant levels are rising. In light of the level of oil and gas activity currently happening in North Dakota, this proactive approach will act as another warning system of contamination that is otherwise undetected.
- There are a few potential routes available to citizens who wish to pursue legal action to ensure enforcement of state and federal law. Expanding citizen oversight and enforcement capacity would enhance the safety of industry operations.