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Associated Press, Published November 12 2012

SD legislators draft potential energy protections

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — South Dakota lawmakers will next year consider a package of legislation aimed at helping prepare for a possible increase in energy production in the state.

The Legislative Research Council is reviewing more than a dozen proposed bills after a summer legislative study done in conjunction with a review of oil and gas issues by working groups assembled by Gov. Dennis Daugaard's office, according to the Argus Leader newspaper (http://argusne.ws/WWUsHH ).

“We need to be prepared; obviously, North Dakota wasn't,” said Rep. Tona Rozum, R-Mitchell.

North Dakota's oil production has more than tripled in the last three years, and the state has leapfrogged from being the ninth-leading oil producer in the nation to the second-leading producer in just six years. The state is dealing with problems such as a lack of affordable housing in the western oil patch and damage to roads from oil traffic.

A study released in September by Daugaard's office concluded that a similar oil boom in South Dakota is not likely, but officials say there is potential for some increase and for spillover effects from the North Dakota boom. Parts of northwestern South Dakota already are seeing impacts such as increased truck traffic.

Rozum said the two most pressing issues for South Dakota are increasing the bonding requirements for oil and gas wells, which haven't been updated in 30 years, and establishing a mediation program to help with disputes between landowners and drilling companies.

Lawmakers might also consider establishing a depredation fund to pay for cleanup of abandoned wells, and they might possibly require drillers that use hydraulic fracturing — a process that involves pumping large amounts of water, sand and chemicals into the ground to tap oil and gas deposits — to post more information about the chemicals used.

Daugaard spokesman Tony Venhuizen said the governor's office still is reviewing the proposed legislation.


Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com

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