- Associated Press - Monday, June 26, 2017

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota officials have lifted a moratorium on industrial water permits, allowing the oil industry to access water from the Little Missouri State Scenic River for hydraulic fracturing.The discussion of giving the oil industry access to the water from the river began this spring after a State Water Commission hydrologist found North Dakota was granting water permits for fracking and other uses that violated a state law, The Bismarck Tribune (https://bit.ly/2tdnNDc ) reported.

State lawmakers recently voted in favor of changing the law, but Gov. Doug Burgum issued a moratorium in May that suspended temporary water permits.

Burgum and other members of the State Water Commission voted Thursday to lift the moratorium. They adopted a new policy that allows the temporary water permits.

The decision has raised concerns from some conservationists about the impact the permits will have on the Badlands.

“It’s questionable whether there’s even sufficient water supply left in the river to provide water for new permits,” said State Engineer Garland Erbele.

Laura Anhalt, a board member for the Badlands Conservation Alliance, said the alliance hoped Burgum would “be a friend of our land and water.”

“We need somebody in a very, very high place to stand up for the land and water,” said Anhalt. “There’s nobody out there doing that.”

At the meeting Thursday, Burgum also reinstated the Little Missouri River Commission. The advisory group is required by law.

Burgum said he wants to discuss the matter again after the advisory group weighs in.

“Because of the scenic nature of the Little Missouri River, there’s a lot of people in the state that have an interest, rightfully so, about the nature and the preservation of this river,” Burgum said.


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

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