Impact of Energy on State Budget

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As the Bakken continues to reach new levels of production, the governor says the state needs more employees to keep up with the growth.

From overseeing salt water spills to regulating oil pipelines, many state agencies that regulate the oil field say they need an extra hand.

In 2014, oil production was record breaking for the State of North Dakota, but along with that came record breaking accidents.

"This past year we have witnessed the aftermath of a train derailment, that resulted in the explosion of 19 tanker cars. We also saw the results of an oil pipeline spill. One of the largest spills in history," said Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R-N.D.).

As the nation's second largest oil producing state, the governor says North Dakota needs a local touch point on rail and pipeline issues. That's where the Public Service Commission comes in.

"Rail safety is a new arena for us," said North Dakota Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak. "We do have the authority to pursue rail safety, but in the past the PSC has never had a safety program. We've left that up to the Feds."

With 60 percent of the state's oil leaving the Williston Basin by rail, The PSC requested nine employees this biennium, eight of whom would focus on railroads. If approved, the commission would supplement the federal inspection program with additional inspectors.

Fedorchak said: "Three in the rail side, two inspectors, one manager. And the manager would do more than just manage the two inspectors. The manager would be kind of a touch point for citizens on rail issues."

The Legislature will also decide if the PSC should regulate crude pipelines that begin and end in the state.

"The intra-state liquids program is something I think we should do. I think the state can do a better job than the Feds on safety with intra-state liquids. But it's going to be a legislative discussion. And we'll make our case," said North Dakota Public Service commissioner Brian Kalk.

The Public Service Commission isn't the only agency requesting additional staff.

North Dakota Public Service Commissioner Dave Glatt said, "Air, water, waste and drinking water systems have had an impact and a need for new employees."

The North Dakota Department of Health Department is requesting 19 new positions to monitor the environmental impact of oil development.

"It's more than just the oil boom," said Glatt. "You have the oil boom, you have the oil boom, the oil wells and all that that entails, and the new water systems that are coming on to play. New EPA regulations, all those positions will help us address those types of issues."

Energy issues along with the budget will be a major topic of discussion when the legislature convenes on Jan. 6.

The Department of Mineral Resources, which regulates the oil and gas industry, requested 22 additional positions for petroleum engineers and field inspectors.