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LETTER: North Dakota Industrial Commission strikes right balance

Good leadership isn't loud, it isn't glitzy, and it doesn't always grab headlines. Yet, it is the kind of leadership we want.

The North Dakota Industrial Commission has done a good job leading our state through the addition of the Bakken as one of our leading economic drivers.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring have taken an often difficult but balanced approach to this expansion, and they have listened to the majority of North Dakotans who wanted the economic benefit of the Bakken but without a free-for-all or paralyzing regulation.

When people pay attention to commission actions over the past five years, they find mindful regulators who:

▇ Demanded that a plan for flaring be put in place. Result: Flaring is down 64 percent and is required to go further down.

▇ Set the most stringent rules in the nation for well casing that protects groundwater. Result: Not a single instance of contaminated water.

▇ Encouraged coordination for well placement that lessens impacts on local roads. Result: "Energy Corridors" keep wells along the same roads four miles apart.

▇ Put forth requirements for conditioning of crude oil before transport by truck or rail—the only state in the nation to do so. Result: Safer railways.

▇ Recognized spills as a challenge, but didn't make knee-jerk reactions. Result: The commission worked with the Legislature to kickoff a study by the Energy and Environmental Research Center at UND to determine how future leaks can be prevented with feasible technology.

Whether it's the Bakken, agriculture or any other industry, we want regulators who ensure safety while encouraging economic growth and job creation. Luckily, that is what we have. Without this balance, our state's residents wouldn't have property and income tax relief, a new medical school or the ability to still enjoy the beauty of western North Dakota, such as Teddy Roosevelt National Park, which the New York Times ranked as the fifth-best place in the world to see this year.

Caren Mikesh