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Station for natural gas by hydraulic fracturing method. (Getty Images via NewsCred)

Federal fracking rule to cost ND income, jobs

If new federal hydraulic fracturing regulations go into effect later this month, North Dakota could potentially lose 1,900 jobs and $300 million annually in oil income, reports the Forum News Service (FNS).

The federal rules set to take effect June 24 include new standards for constructing wells and for disclosing the chemicals used during the hydraulic fracturing process. A preliminary injunction has been filed by North Dakota against the Bureau of Land Management in an attempt to delay the rules from going into effect until the court is able to review a lawsuit filed by North Dakota, Wyoming and Colorado. A hearing is scheduled for June 23 in the Casper, Wyoming, U.S. District Court.

As reported by the FNS, North Dakota Industrial Commission member and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem will attend the meeting. He said the federal rule would disrupt North Dakota oil and gas development and result in lost mineral royalties and tax incomes in the next fiscal year. In North Dakota, oil and gas activity on federal lands such as the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation account for roughly 40 percent of overall production. State officials, who favor state regulation, claim the BLM rules would create lengthy permitting delays.

On Wednesday Stenehjem told the FNS, “We simply feel that our rules are better, they are effective and we are much better and much more capable of actually enforcing them than they are.” Department of Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms believes that 10 of 22 companies with major operations on federal and tribal lands would most likely leave the state if the rules are implemented. As a result of this emigration, the state would lose 1,900 jobs and as much as $9.4 billion in royalties and taxes.

In May, Stenehjem, along with the attorney generals of Colorado and Wyoming, asked the Department of Interior to extend the effective date of the new rule while court challenges are considered. The department declined the request, asserting the rules would not hinder the industry and would not discourage oil and gas development. To read the full report, click here.


  1. *I’ve had some pretty good responses and information provided in replies, redacted original comment.

  2. Yea we need to loose jobs in times like this really come on dam give a man a break

  3. Fracking may be safe in ND; however, it uses lots of water–which is in short supply in some states–and it also causes earth quakes in some states. Even though I have benefitted financially from fracking, I am concerned about the environmental costs. I am also concerned, of course, about job loss. As I have learned, solar energy, if supported and developed, will produce many jobs. I’m not sure if wind energy produces many jobs.

    • Solar still requires petroleum. Also there is no evidence that fracking has or is causing earthquakes. As for water shortages in other states, are you purposing that water be trucked to other states to help with the shortage? Also Ca biggest issue is the state governments terrible water management!

    • Brenda the water useage reported by anti-frackers is a lie because they don’t tell the full storty. After a well is fracked the water is flowed back- has to be or it would block the flow of oil and gas- When flowed back it is recovered 92-95% and recycled fracking the next well-
      Example: start with 1,000,000 bbls, frack and recover and recycle fracking 10 wells at 5% loss only 500,000 was used.

    • You are right Brenda, hydraulic fracturing is very water intensive. Historically, when water was used, only fresh water could be used, but that is not the case anymore. Technology advances in the last three to four years have allowed for alternative sources of water to be used.

      Operators are using recycled frac water now, in fact, in Pennsylvania, 90% of all returned frac water is being recycled.


      The goal is to reach 100%. This is beneficial in two ways. First, it reduces the amount of fresh water needed. Second, it reduces the amount of water that needs to be disposed of.

      In North Dakota, operators are using 100% recycled frac water to frac with.


      Operators are also fracing wells using 100% brackish well water. This fact was included in the EPA’s assessment on fracturing. “In Texas counties with relatively high brackish water availability, hydraulic fracturing water use represented a much smaller percentage of total water availability (fresh + brackish +29 wastewater) (see Figure 4-5b). This finding illustrates that potential impacts can be avoided or reduced in these counties through the use of brackish water or wastewater for hydraulic fracturing; a case study in the Eagle Ford play in southwestern Texas confirms this. (4-22)”.


      In the Permian Basin, Apache is not using fresh water at all, but instead is using a combination of brackish water and recycled frac water.


      In the Eagleford Shale, operators are fracing wells by using up to 85% brackish water.


      Operators are also starting to use effluent water purchased from municipalities. Again, this reduces the amount of fresh water needed and gives municipalities a chance to dispose of effluent water, while making money by doing it.


      As water usage from these alternative sources increase, the need for fresh water in hydraulic fracturing will be reduced, and in time fresh water will cease to be used.

      As for earthquakes the USGS has this to say: “In the United States, fracking is not causing most of the induced earthquakes. Wastewater disposal is the primary cause of the recent increase in earthquakes in the central United States. … Most injection wells do not trigger felt earthquakes. … Most wastewater currently disposed of across the nation is saltwater that is a byproduct of the oil and gas extraction process. Saltwater is found in nearly every oil and gas production well, regardless of whether the well has been hydraulically fractured. … In many locations, wastewater has little or nothing to do with hydraulic fracturing. In Oklahoma, less than 10 percent of the water injected into wastewater disposal wells is used hydraulic fracturing fluid. In some parts of Oklahoma where very high volumes of wastewater are injected, no hydraulic fracturing is occurring at all, so the wastewater is purely saltwater that comes up with oil in the extraction process.”


      So, while some waste water injection wells are responsible for earthquakes, hydraulic fracturing does not cause earthquakes and most waste water being injected is not frac water flowback.

    • She’s probably thinks we pollute the water table too. Go home tree hugger

    • Oh a professor!! Lmao what a joke, but it explains a lot about the type of people coming out of college now

    • Look at your statement up there. And you teach college students?

    • What are you even talking about? Crazy lady

    • I think she posted her tree hugging crap in the wrong place haha

    • Hey crazy lady why did you delete your comment? Don’t have enough conviction to stand behind your words? Typical liberal, no back bone

    • They use salt water you silly billy!

  4. Robert Bombara why do they wrap the hoses like that

  5. Its a government thing,,to much oil in North Dakota means not as much from the pricks over seas, ,

  6. It comes from the communistic EPA. It is not a law! Contact your congressman!

  7. More of Obamas “progress”?

  8. What is really stupid – the US gov makes more off the oil /gas produced on gov land than does the oil companies. Royalty 18-24 % of produce value and later $7.56/ bbl as gasoline

  9. Ridiculous gov regulation !!

  10. I’ve worked on windmills before and it’s great work. Right now some companies are starting at 24 hr with 100 per diem. No rotation, and it’s 100% travel, so basically you’ll never be home.

  11. I don’t understand the fear of disclosing what chemicals are being used? Chemicals are being injected into the ground – I think people have to right to know what they are. Do they contain carcinogens? I’m just asking ? I mean, seriously – whats the problem ? I don’t get the disclosure FEAR from the industry? You can see how it looks bad by NOT being upfront – right?

  12. Hopefully once we get conservatives in president, house and Senate, we can undo damage done to country by Obama, reid, and Pelosi, I am looking for a rusty rail to ride them and all their far left appointees out of office out of town

  13. Lets face it folks this government is getting greedy and they won’t be happy until they own every piece of land and all oil right.They are putting the American people into poverty and they won’t stop until they own everythingl! Reminds me of Hitler.

  14. Just frack to hole! Piss on the liberals

  15. Democrats putting America out of business since the killed jfk for being to conservative.

  16. Feds have to kill a good thing. Build windmills and solar like Obama wants. This will only cut jobs.

  17. It’s not safe anywhere and good for the Feds for cracking down on it. There have been many many unreported oil spills that have most likely affected the ground water and fracking has the same carbon emission problems as coal gassification plants do. They are exploiting the Indians and probably you too Brenda. Lord knows what else will surface as time goes by. The costs to the environment and associated health risks in no way makes the profits to the state worth while. especially for the residents of the Bakken area. Yes businesses have benefitted and that loss of business may devastate many but it was a good ride like it was in the oil bust I think in the 70’s. They need to use that money prudently and try avoid the delayed shock of the last recession so the people don’t have to absorb the costs of the likely realestate bust and rise in unemployment.

    • You are an idiot troll. Please go to bed in your mothers basement!

    • I have seen frac first hand I’m ND, and have had classes on how it works. There is non possible way it can affect ground water, if procedures are followed.

    • Scott, the EPA recently did a study. If I could attach that study here I would but you can look it up on google by typing in ‘EPA report on fracking’ on google.

    • Pricilla, here is a link to the executive summary for the study you referenced, along with a discussion of the results. Just googling it will lead you sites posting half truths as both sides of the hydraulic fracturing debate have claimed victory by posting the pieces of this study that speak to their message. Which is easy to do based on the conclusion to the study found on page ES-6: “We did not find evidence that these mechanisms have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States. Of the potential mechanisms identified in this report, we found specific instances where one or more mechanisms led to impacts on drinking water resources, including contamination of drinking water wells. The number of identified cases, however, was small compared to the number of hydraulically fractured wells.” With a conclusion that isn’t 100% one way or another, the answers are found in the numbers.


      On page ES-5, the study says “we estimate 25,000-30,000 new wells are drilled and hydraulically fractured annually in the United States between 2011 and 2014.” On page ES-11 the study says there were “151 cases in which fracturing fluid or chemicals spilled on or near a well pad” between January 2006 and April 2011. The study goes on to say on page ES-13 “Of the 151 spills characterized by the EPA, fluids reached surface water in 13 (9% of 151) cases and soil in 97 (64%) cases. None of the spills of hydraulic fracturing fluid were reported to have reached ground water.”

      On ES-14 and ES-15, the study shows three incidences where ground water was impacted from well integrity issues.

      On page ES-17, the study says “The EPA characterized spill volumes and causes for 225 cases in which produced water was spilled on or near a well pad” between January 2006 and April 2011. On ES-19 the study says “The EPA characterization of hydraulic fracturing-related spills found that 8% of the 225 produced water spills included in the study reached surface water or ground water.” Which means that 18 of the 225 spills contacted surface or ground water.

      This means that in the 6-1/3 years between January 2006 and April 2011 there were 34 instances where fluid that pertained to hydraulic fracturing impacted surface or ground water. Using the numbers quoted in the study for wells fractured per year, would yield a minimum of 158,250 and a maximum of 189,900 wells fractured between January 2006 and April 2011. If the smaller of the two numbers is used, the result would be that 99.98% of the wells fractured did not impact surface or groundwater supplies.

      This number from the EPA study corresponds to numbers found in a similar study done by the groundwater protection council. The study examined the industry as a whole not just hydraulic fracturing, broken down into 6 phases. 1) Site preparation 2) Drilling and completion 3) Well stimulation 4) Production, on-lease transport, and storage 5) Waste management and disposal 6) Plugging and site reclamation. In Ohio, there were 185 documented incidents of groundwater contamination. In Texas, there were 211 documented incidents of groundwater contamination. When you compare the incidents to the total number of wells worked on you will see that, in Ohio, 99.7% of the wells worked on did not result in water contamination. In Texas, the number was 99.94%.


      So, yes the EPA study showed that there was a 0.02% risk that water would be impacted by the hydraulic fracturing process. The question then becomes: Is this risk worth the benefit that comes from the use of oil and gas generated by hydraulic fracturing? First, what is the benefit? Around 61% of Americans use natural gas in their homes either for heat, cooking, or hot water.


      In 2014, 27% of electricity was generated by natural gas, which means that an additional 10.5% of American homes that do not use natural gas use electricity generated by natural gas. Therefore, 71.5% of all American homes use natural gas.


      In 2013, 92% of energy used for transportation came from oil and gas. Meaning that 92% of Americans use oil and natural gas for transportation in one form or another.


      Petroleum products are also used to make chemicals, plastics, and synthetic materials found in nearly everything we use today. So almost 100% of Americans use petroleum products in their everyday life


      So the benefit is that oil and natural gas and the products produced from them help to make the lives of Americans easier and more enjoyable than they would be if these products were not available. So, I think that a reasonable society, using common sense in their thinking, would say that the answer to the above question is yes, the better quality of American lives is worth the risk presented to surface and ground water by hydraulic fracturing.

      Does this mean that impacted water is acceptable as collateral damage to the American way of life? Absolutely not. The oil and gas industry has to do a better job to look at these instances, identify the root cause, and put plans in place to keep these cases from happening. Also, does this mean that we should stop searching for alternative energy sources? Again, absolutely not. Alternative sources of energy will be essential to the United States in the future. It simply means that the benefits far outweigh the risks, which is what, in essence, the EPA is saying with the conclusion of this study. Had they found any evidence of widespread systemic impacts on drinking water resources they would have taken action to stop such impacts.

    • Thanks Dale, that is very informative and I believe reasonably accurate account of the EPA findings but it ignores the fact that there are carbon emissions from fracking not unlike those in coal gasification plants. Also there are numerous unreported spills that could very likely reach ground water. Yes natural gas has been a way of making our lives better but at a cost to our environment and I do believe the soil has been seriously impacted both in North Dakota and other areas where fracking has occurred and we won’t see the results at least health-wise for years to come. The EPA wants to ensure that our ground water is safe and has proposed legislation to that end. There are alternative forms of energy used throughout the world that will give us the same conveniences and comfort that natural gas has in years gone by and are far more efficient and cost effective and pose no risks to our environment. Western Europe and China has taken the lead on this and the US is seriously lagging in those efforts but now with oil prices deliberately held low by the Saudis, the likelihood that conversions to renewables that are not only a necessary part and of containing the effects of global warming but will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and the best side benefit I can think of is keeping us out of war to protect our access to oil.

    • Pricilla, there are several studies that show natural gas to be cleaner than coal.







      This research article by NOAA scientists states: “As a result of the increased use of natural gas, CO2 emissions from U.S. fossil-fuel power plants were 23% lower in 2012 than they would have been if coal had continued to provide the same fraction of electric power as in 1997.”


      Even Working Group III’s report on the mitigation of climate change for the IPCC’s fifth assessment says in chapter 7: “Taking into account revised estimates for fugitive methane emissions, recent lifecycle assessments indicate that specific GHG emissions are reduced by one half (on a per-kWh basis) when shifting from the current world-average coal-fired power plant to a modern natural gas combined-cycle (NGCC) power plant”.


      I have no problem with alternative energy sources and as I stated above, they will be essential to the future of the US. However, you have to realize Any conversion to renewables will not happen overnight, will not be cheap, and will require every day Americans to help foot the bill. Also, until such time that another source of energy is capable of producing 100% of our energy needs, fossil fuels are necessary. Lastly, as to your comment that renewables pose no risk to our environment. Renewables are not without environmental problems.

      A 3.5 megawatt wind turbine (the size most commonly found in wind farms) contains about 1300 pounds of rare earth metals in the magnets used to develop electricity.


      Around 90 percent of the rare earth metals used today come from mines around Baotou, China. This city is one of the most polluted cities in China. “Hidden out of sight behind smoke-shrouded factory complexes in the city of Baotou, and patrolled by platoons of security guards, lies a five-mile wide ‘tailing’ lake. It has killed farmland for miles around, made thousands of people ill and put one of China’s key waterways in jeopardy.”


      That article was published in 2011, so I hoped that things might be better now, but apparently that is not the case as this article published on April 2, 2015 shows. “We reached the shore, and looked across the lake. I’d seen some photos before I left for Inner Mongolia, but nothing prepared me for the sight. It’s a truly alien environment, dystopian and horrifying. The thought that it is man-made depressed and terrified me, as did the realisation that this was the byproduct not just of the consumer electronics in my pocket, but also green technologies like wind turbines and electric cars that we get so smugly excited about in the West.”


      Since processing one ton of neodymium, the rare earth metal used in wind turbine magnets, produces 2,000 tons of toxic waste, the manufacture of one 3.5 megawatt wind turbine produces 2.6 million pounds of toxic waste.


      I’ll let you do the math if 300,000-500,000 wind turbines are constructed in the future to replace fossil fuel usage in the US.

      So while the production of electricity by the wind turbine produces 0% emissions, the process that is necessary for the wind turbine to produce that electricity is very telling on the environment, and will be more telling in the future unless something is done.

    • I want both coal and natural gas to be history, but that won’t happen in my life time or the life time of my grand niece and nephew. I am not going to split hairs about which does the least damage when there are alternative sources that are not only renewable but don’t damage our environment. It is a no brainer as far as I am concerned.

    • Too bad you didn’t read and digest the articles about what is happening in China to proliferate wind power, but if you want to believe that it does not damage our environment, go ahead.

    • I heard about it, I’m not buying it. They use mostly water power any way.

  18. I know lots of people’s jobs are at stake here. No one is insensitive to that but this article leaves out more than it includes. Half the fracking rigs have already been shut down since December because of the 50% decline in oil prices in the previous six months. The oil companies held onto their employees until then but the Saudis are not going to cut back on oil production and we will no longer see 100/barrel for oil ever again according to the Saudis. Even the Saudis are moving to renewable energy sources, as are the Chinese. We no longer even at this point have dependence on foreign oil and with wind, solar and even geothermal and hydro-electricty being used throughout the world, oil is no longer even at this point the precious commodity it once was. Oil prices are back up to above 60/barrell but just around the break even point for fracking operations. So with the Feds control especially since the EPA report on the effects of drinking water due to fracking, I think every one should be happy that the safety of people is being put before profits of the oil companies at least on a federal level.

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