Buel Sonderland, Published April 28 2012
Letter: Formal review can protect ND heritageNorth Dakota leaders have been criticized and taking hits from all across the state for not having a defined or organized plan to regulate the exploration and development of the oil and gas resources.
A very important policy change is now being considered in the process of leasing mineral rights on state-owned lands. The Industrial Commission is reviewing a change that would implement a “formal review process,” allowing comments from concerned citizens, the Game and Fish Department and the Parks and Recreation Department.
A formal review policy would give North Dakota citizens a voice in the management of their outdoor heritage. The North Dakota tourism director, Sara Otte Coleman, stated “the No. 1 reason people travel to North Dakota is for the outdoor experience.” Protecting the integrity of state-owned lands is also very important for the wide range of different outdoor interests and activities of state residents.
If state land is found with a sensitive or critical environment, it could still be leased, with a requirement to use less intrusive development techniques.
The Industrial Commission has been guided by an informal policy. The commission consists of Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring. With only three members, the lobbying pressure from the oil industry has to be very heavy and intense. Adopting a formal review process would provide the commission structured guidance to offset lobbying pressure.
The opportunity for your support is now, while the policy review is under consideration, as the commission may not be 100 percent in agreement to the change. The next auction of state land mineral rights is May 1, which is only a few days away. Don’t let this chance for public involvement in caring for “our outdoor heritage” slip by. Voice your support today.
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, call (701) 328-3722 or write the North Dakota Industrial Commission, State Capitol, 14th Floor, 600 E. Boulevard Ave. Dept. 405, Bismarck, ND 58505-0840.
News of this policy review was carried by The Forum on April 21.