Target: Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem
Goal: Protect extraordinary natural places in North Dakota from more unregulated oil and gas drilling
In October of 2013, the governing body of North Dakota decided that 1.2 million acres of land, including places like the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers and a number of national parks, were to be classified as ‘extraordinary places’ and were protected from unregulated oil drilling. In the beginning of 2014, that ruling was modified. Now only public lands are protected, and these total only about 600,000 acres, less than half of what was previously defended.
These places are landmarks and legacies that should be preserved for our children and grandchildren. The original ruling required anyone who drilled in or near one of these protected locations to submit a plan designed to mitigate cosmetic and environmental impact. Any drilling in these areas had to be done in such a way that the ecosystem would not be damaged.
Instead of worrying about the possible environmental impact, members of the North Dakota Petroleum Council are instead worried about increasing the state’s oil and natural gas output. It is their opposition to this ruling that played a huge part in overturning many of these protections, with the result that their benefits no longer extend to privately owned properties.
There are still areas that are being contested, as well, including the lands around the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. This area, where President Theodore Roosevelt ranched and raised cattle in the 1880s, is in jeopardy, as are major water sources for plants, animals, and humans. Lake Sakakawea, for instance, is a major source of hydroelectric power for many North Dakota cities; oil contamination here could devastate the lake itself, as well as the entire Missouri river. This cannot be allowed to happen. Please sign the petition below to protect these precious areas.
Dear Attorney General Stenehjem,
North Dakota offers some of the most beautiful and historic vistas in the country. One of your primary objectives should be the protection of these locations. Why, then, have you allowed groups like the North Dakota Petroleum Council to influence the decisions that were made to ensure the safety and preservation of the extraordinary places in your state? Instead of safeguarding the 1.2 million acres of public and private land it was originally intended to protect, the decision now covers barely half of that – and only extends to public lands.
We need your help to ensure that these amazing places are preserved for our children and their children to enjoy. We ask that you reconsider the choice that you have made to back off on the ‘stiff’ regulations on oil drilling in these extraordinary places. We cannot protect these places without your help – you must act now to restore strength to these regulations, before it is too late.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Michael Oswold