Galen Peterson, Maxbass, N.D., Published February 02 2014
Letter: NW landowners support a changeThe Northwest Landowners Association supports the move to separate the duties of the director of the Department of Mineral Resources as proposed by the North Dakota House and Senate minority leaders. We believe this change should have taken place long ago.
It might have made some sense to have a director who both regulated and promoted when there were around 3,500 producing wells and approximately 20 rigs drilling, with one in four becoming a producer. In conversation with Director Lynn Helms, he has stated that 50 percent of his time is devoted to regulation and 50 percent is spent on the permitting and promotion of oil development. However, promotion and regulation each require full-time attention, and the director’s ability to do that no longer exists due to the very rapid growth of the oil industry.
We need a department with someone in charge who has the sole responsibility of enforcing regulations. Strengthening of enforcement needs to include real and substantial consequences for violations, especially for repeat violations from individuals or companies.
Now is the time to protect our natural resources – the land, the people and the minerals. One or more of these resources should not have to suffer in order to develop another. We believe that a department focused on seeing that regulation of the industry is working will provide lasting benefits for all North Dakota.
Peterson is an NWLA board member.