ND raises ‘serious concerns’ about BLM plan

BISMARCK – The state of North Dakota has submitted official comment raising “serious concerns” about proposed changes to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s administration of public land in North Dakota.

BLM released its proposed changes to the North Dakota Resource Management Plan on Jan. 20, along with a Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Together, the documents address management of about 58,500 acres of BLM-administered surface and 4.1 million acres of federal mineral estate in North Dakota for the next 20 to 30 years.

North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley, in collaboration with Gov. Doug Burgum and several executive branch agencies, submitted official comments to BLM on behalf of the state on Monday.

Among the chief concerns is that BLM’s two preferred plan alternatives would withdraw large portions of public lands in North Dakota from mineral development. In the process, BLM also would effectively strand many acres of state-owned and privately owned land because of the checkerboard pattern of mineral ownership in North Dakota. The state notes that BLM lacks authority from Congress to impose these blanket surface restrictions on state and private lands or those managed by other federal agencies, and that restricting mineral development on these lands won’t reduce demand for minerals but will hurt the environment by forcing state and private minerals to be developed less efficiently.

“As Americans struggle with high energy prices and inflation, the Biden administration continues to wage its misguided war on the energy industry in North Dakota – including this Resource Management Plan that attempts to further restrict development of our abundant oil, natural gas and coal resources,” Burgum said. “As a nation, we should be responsibly developing our natural resources and selling energy to our friends and allies instead of buying energy from our enemies.”

In the comments, Wrigley calls on BLM to adopt an alternative that doesn’t carry the significant legal and technical issues as BLM’s preferred alternatives and to modify the plan to comply with a recent federal court decision that ordered BLM to resume quarterly sales of oil and gas leases on public lands in North Dakota.


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