North Dakota Sues the EPA

North Dakota has become the first state to sue the federal government regarding new methane rulings for oil and gas facilities. 

Related: Lynn Helms Urges Lawmakers Over Methane Rules

On Monday, the North Dakota’s attorney general filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), citing concerns that the new rules are “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion and not in accordance with law."

The filing is on the heels of the testimony last week by Lynn Helms, the director of the N.D. Department of Mineral Resources. Helms spoke to a U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee lending his voice to the growing opposition to the proposed regulations by the EPA. 

The new standards were proposed by the EPA in May and are designed to reduce 520,000 short tons of methane in 2015, the equivalent of 11 million metric ton of carbon dioxide. 

Methane is believed to be 28 to 34 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at warming the atmosphere over a 100-year period. These EPA’s proposed regulations will require reducing emissions by 40-45% over the next decade.

Lynn Helms Urges Lawmakers Over Proposed Regulations

Top North Dakota official urged lawmakers to reign in proposed clean air regulations.

Related: Methane Emissions Drop

Lynn Helms, the director of the N.D. Department of Mineral Resources, spoke to a U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee last week lending his voice to the growing opposition to the proposed regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Helms and others claim that the states are making great strides in regulating oil and gas activity in their states and that the EPA has no right to such overreach. He testified that the new plan will hurt the region's oil and gas production. 

(The EPA’s plan) will nullify the proven state regulatory program and thereby harm the State’s sovereign interest in planning and developing the use of oil and gas resources within its jurisdiction. The record keeping requirements of the proposed rule are far too voluminous for any kind of reasonable inspection and enforcement to be conducted.
— Lynn Helms

Last summer, President Obama revealed a plan designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions 40 – 45 percent by 2025. After almost a year, the EPA finalized the new rule in May setting tougher standards for methane leaks along the natural gas production line.

The new standards are stronger than those proposed last summer and look to reduce 520,000 short tons of methane in 2025 instead of 400,000 in the original proposal. This is equivalent of 11 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.

Read Helms' full testimony here

North Dakota's Taxable Sales Down 33%-Is it Time to Worry?

33% Drop in Taxable Sales for ND

33% Drop in Taxable Sales for ND

North Dakota's Tax Commissioner announces a 33 percent drop in taxable sales for the first quarter of 2016.

Related: North Dakota Revenue Drops

Ryan Rauschenberger, ND Tax Commissioner released the 2016 Q1 report that included data for the largest 50 cities in North Dakota. The report revealed that there was a 33% drop in taxable d blamed the prolonged downturn on drop in sales and purchases state-wide. 

The first quarter decrease is a direct result of the continued downturn in the oil industry and low ag commodity prices,” stated Rauschenberger. “Fundamentally North Dakota is just returning to a pre-oil boom economy. First quarter 2016 is nearly 50 percent greater than the same timeframe in 2010.

Taxable sales and purchases are a key indicator of the economic activity in the North Dakota. This data has followed the pattern of decline that parallels the drop in low crude prices over the last 18 months. 

The report shows that 13 of the 15 state economic indicators dropped during the quarter with mining and oil extraction showing the biggest decline of $716 million. 12 of North Dakota's 53 counties saw any growth

Williston, in the heart of the Bakken, saw the biggest drop in taxable sales and purchases during the quarter of about $432 million, or 61 percent.

It's tough to get a clear read on the reality of North Dakota's post-boom economy as analysts and the media spin the data in a thousand different ways. One industry watchdog says that there really isn't reason to panic, because state revenues are up significantly from pre-oil boom levels. 

Read the full report at

Bakken Applauds Recent Frack Decision

Federal Court: Frack Rules Unlawful

Federal Court: Frack Rules Unlawful

Bakken Shale operators and industry officials applaud the recent federal court ruling that declared the fracking rules unlawful.

Related:  New Fracking Rules for Public Lands

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl struck down the Obama administration’s attempt to regulate hydraulic fracturing on federal lands.

Skaydahl said, “Congress has not delegated to the Department of Interior the authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing. The BLM’s effort to do so through the Tracking Rule is in excess of its statutory authority and contrary to law.

After a four-year investigation and more than 1.5 million public comments, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued new rules to regulate hydraulic oil and gas fracturing on public lands in March 2015. Industry groups quickly fired back and combined their challenges with state lawsuits to form a massive case that was heard in Judge Scott Skavdahl’s court in July.

The parties claimed the BLM exceeded their authority that new fracking rules aren’t necessary because the EPA has already granted authority to the states to monitor and protect underground water sources. Skavdahl ultimately ruled that permitting of oil and gas wells on federal land will proceed under current regulations for at least another month. Tuesday's ruling made that order final.

Oil industry officials and operators in North Dakota were among dozens who opposed the rules, arguing that the state. 

North Dakota has adopted sensible fracking regulations that work, because Congress intended the states to regulate fracking,” Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said in a news release.


Alison Ritter, spokeswoman for the Department of Mineral Resources confirmed that the majority of minerals developed in North Dakota are privately or state-owned. Since roughly 30% of Bakken oil development contains some percentage of federal minerals, the BLM rule would have had a major effect on the state’s oil development.

Read the full decision here