BISMARCK – North Dakota stands to lose $300 million a year in oil income and 1,900 jobs if a federal rule on hydraulic fracturing takes effect later this month, state officials argue in court documents.
North Dakota has filed a request for a preliminary injunction against the Bureau of Land Management, seeking to delay implementation of the agency's new fracking rule until the court can review a challenge filed by North Dakota, Wyoming and Colorado.
A hearing is set for June 23 in U.S. District Court in Casper, Wyo.
North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, who will attend the hearing, said the BLM rule set to take effect June 24 would disrupt oil and gas development in the state and cause North Dakota to lose $300 million in mineral royalties and tax income in the next fiscal year.
In April, North Dakota intervened in a lawsuit against the BLM. Federal lands and minerals, including the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, make up about 40 percent of North Dakota's oil production.
North Dakota officials favor state regulation of fracking and say the BLM rules would
cause lengthy permitting delays.
"We simply feel that our rules are better, they are effective and we are much better and much more capable of actually enforcing them than they are," Stenehjem said in an interview Wednesday.
Lynn Helms, director of the Department of Mineral Resources, writes in an exhibit filed in court that 10 of 22 oil companies with significant operations on federal and Indian lands will leave North Dakota if the rule takes effect.
Helms estimates those companies leaving would permanently cost the state $9.4 billion in royalties and taxes. In addition, Helms estimates North Dakota would lose 1,900 jobs.
Stenehjem and the attorney generals of Wyoming and Colorado wrote to the Department of Interior in May asking to extend the effective date of the new rule by at least nine months while court challenges are considered.
The department declined to extend the date, saying in a letter filed in court that implementation would not be a significant burden for the industry and would not discourage oil development on public or Indian lands.
Any responses to North Dakota's request for a preliminary injunction are due June 19.
At the June 23 hearing, which is scheduled to take six hours, the court also will hear separate requests from Wyoming and Colorado.