- Associated Press - Saturday, March 1, 2014

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The North Dakota Industrial Commission received more than 500 comments from the public on a proposal for places deemed worthy of special protection from energy development.

The submissions were sent to the commission during the nearly monthlong public comment period allowed for the “extraordinary places” policy introduced in December by Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, The Bismarck Tribune (http://bit.ly/1of6qVj ) reported. The commission, which regulates oil and gas development in the state, tabled the proposal last month.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and Stenehjem make up the panel. Dalrymple in January argued that the public needed more time to comment. The commission is scheduled to meet Monday.

Dalrymple told the newspaper he would review the comments this weekend.

“I am definitely interested in what came in,” Dalrymple said. He added that he would like to address the matter promptly.

Stenehjem’s proposal lists 18 places in private and public land, including the Little Missouri National Grasslands and Lake Sakakawea. The protection would be granted on the grounds of historical and cultural value.

Stenehjem’s proposal has been criticized by some Republican lawmakers and oil and farm groups. Conservation groups have supported the plan.

The newspaper reported that the main argument of those who criticized the proposal in writing is that it would infringe on the right of private property owners’ to develop their land.

“This process opens the door to future mandates and restrictions on private land and potentially allows radical environmentalists to use the commenting process or legal system to delay or obstruct development,” Ron Ness, the president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council President wrote.

Among various regulations, the proposal calls for buffer zones and requires a detailed mitigation plan by producers looking to drill in those areas.

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com