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NDIC may seek $1M to fight EPA


BISMARCK -- North Dakota Industrial Commission members may ask the Legislature for $1 million to fight the Environmental Protection Agency over possible federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said if the state gets involved in legal action, he'll coordinate with other states to keep legal expenses down.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a process of pumping water and grit underground at high pressure to break up shale rock to extract oil and natural gas.

Visiting Dickinson on Tuesday, Bette Grande, a U.S. House of Representatives candidate, said the EPA is overstepping its boundaries in states' rights issues.

"We have a great agency with our oil and gas division that knows what to do," Grande said. "They are doing it well."

States now handle regulation of fracking. North Dakota officials fear EPA regulation will greatly restrict the state's oil production.

Grande said fracking is one of the safest and most environmentally friendly ways of drilling oil, adding North Dakota can take care of ecological problems.

"They just need to let us be," she said. "We want to be here and live to breathe the air and drink the water. We are not going to destroy it because we are here in it."

An oil producers' group is already suing the EPA over fracking regulation.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple said the Industrial Commission will make the money request to the Legislature's special session next week.

Press reporter April Baumgarten and The Associated Press contributed to this story.