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North Dakota Might Challenge New Federal Fracking Rule

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota is considering challenging a new federal fracking rule for U.S. government lands.

The Obama administration is requiring companies that drill for oil and gas on federal lands to disclose chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing drilling technique. A final rule released Friday also updates requirements for well construction and disposal of water and other fluids. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management rule, under consideration for more than three years, takes effect in June.

State Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms said the rule is an overreach, and Gov. Jack Dalrymple said it could interfere with the work of the state's Water Commission and Health Department.

"We need to take action," he said during a Tuesday meeting of the state Industrial Commission, which oversees the energy industry in the state. Dalrymple, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem make up the group.

Members of North Dakota's congressional delegation also have questioned the new fracking rule. Republican Sen. John Hoeven, Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer all issued statements last week saying the federal government should give deference to the states on such regulation.

The Industrial Commission voted to have Stenehjem study the possibility of filing a lawsuit, collaborate other states in a lawsuit, or join an existing challenge, The Bismarck Tribune reported. The Independent Petroleum Association of America and Western Energy Alliance filed a lawsuit immediately following the release of the rules.

The industry fears federal regulation could duplicate efforts by states and hinder the drilling boom, while some environmental groups worry that lenient rules could allow unsafe drilling techniques to pollute groundwater.

North Dakota lawmakers approved $1 million during the last legislative session for litigation on issues such as fracking regulation, according to Stenehjem.

(© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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