Landowners Know Best
All across the state there’s a buzz about energy with an uptick in the oil and gas industry and the development of several new wind energy projects. “The Bakken is back” and wind energy is going strong, all providing strength and diversity for our economy, businesses and landowners. Within the last month, the Northwest Landowners Association and the Landowners Association of North Dakota held statewide meetings where landowner rights were the topic of discussion. Most energy developments simply don’t happen without the permission and involvement of the landowner.
Economic growth in the energy industry requires developers to follow rules and regulations. They must work with landowners to make any project come to fruition. Developers are required to work with state and local government to complete an application and approval process. But, in recent months, a new sentiment is showing up from the North Dakota Game and Fish Department … a sentiment of government over-reach.
In a nutshell, North Dakota Game and Fish (NDGF) is trying to impose more restrictions on native grasslands. NDGF has decided we need more government regulations as part of our energy development policy. They have recently required private energy developers to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to a private conservation organization as part of an energy development project. NDGF is saying an energy development project must “pay” to mitigate direct and indirect impacts a project has on wildlife. The science they are using is sketchy and has not been a collaborative process---but one driven largely by NDGF.
Is this what we need? Regulations that essentially add restrictions on what landowners can do on their property and stifle private investment? Responsible wind developers, comply with all applicable law (including three federal statutes—enforced by U.S. Fish & Wildlife). They work closely with landowners, conservationists, and NDGF regarding wildlife and habitat to minimize and mitigate potential risks to wildlife.
We say “NO” to more regulations and interference we don’t need. Landowners comply with the laws. Wind developers know what they are doing. Any additional requirements by NDGF aren’t needed. Landowners don’t need another obstacle to pursuing economic opportunities.
Landowners have the right to determine what is best for their land. If economic development opportunities that allow families to harness a new revenue stream from the land they own present themselves, it’s the landowner’s right to do so. The theme from the two landowner meetings last month, was simple: landowners need to unite and protect their landowner rights.