- Associated Press - Thursday, February 18, 2016

MANNING, N.D. (AP) - Dunn County is taking its battle to apply zoning to oil and gas development to the North Dakota Supreme Court.

Southwest District Judge Dan Greenwood on Tuesday ruled that the North Dakota Industrial Commission, which regulates energy development in the state, has sole jurisdiction over an oil waste treatment facility in the county. As a result of the decision, the County Commission on Wednesday decided to appeal to the high court, the Bismarck Tribune (http://bit.ly/1Lv3XSZ ) reported.

State’s Attorney Pat Merriman recommended that the county push back against the district judge’s ruling, saying the issue is bigger than Dunn County, because the ruling adversely affects all oil-producing counties. McLean, Williams and McKenzie counties have filed in support of Dunn County’s case.

In 2013, Environmental Driven Solutions sued Dunn County for denying zoning for storage tanks on property adjacent to the treatment facility, sparking the dispute. Environmental Driven Solutions argued that state law gives the North Dakota Industrial Commission, which had issued a permit for the treatment plant, the authority that pre-empts local zoning.

Greenwood said in his ruling that there is a dearth of case law on the topic and that he relied on three attorney general opinions that support the state Industrial Commission’s jurisdiction. He said the commission controls drilling, all operations for oil and gas production, and the disposal of saltwater and oilfield wastes.

The ruling puts Dunn County in a “like it or lump it” position and “changes the harmonious relationship between local and state government,” Merriman said. He said he’s worried about whether the county could lose jurisdiction over all aspects of oil and gas development, including roads and man camps.

Shawn Kluver, owner of Environmental Driven Solutions, didn’t return requests for comment, but his attorney said the company “looks forward to providing a necessary service to treat oilfield waste in Dunn County.”

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

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