State seeks to shield SD from becoming ND oil waste dumpPIERRE — A legislative committee agreed Thursday that South Dakota should adopt more stringent regulations for disposal of liquid wastes from oil and gas wells.
By: Bob Mercer, Republic Capitol Bureau
PIERRE — A legislative committee agreed Thursday that South Dakota should adopt more stringent regulations for disposal of liquid wastes from oil and gas wells.
The discussion comes as North Dakota operators have shown interest in developing waste facilities in South Dakota.
The Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee endorsed SB 59 on a 7-0 vote. The restrictions, which state Environment Secretary Steve Pirner said are similar to North Dakota regulations, now go to the full Senate.
Harding County Auditor Kathy Glines spoke against the legislation, saying it will take away local control. She said a developer is currently interested in Harding County as a location for a disposal site.
Glines said the project would need clearance first from her county’s nine-member planning and zoning board and then from the five-member board of county commissioners.
Rancher Robert Johnson, who serves on the county commission, said there isn’t a guarantee that the pit will be built but he wants the choice to be a local decision.
“A couple jobs is a benefit,” he said. “Let’s not close out opportunities for other areas.”
The legislation would prohibit oil and gas waste facilities except those associated with a specific well or producing field. The legislation also would ban oil and gas wastes above a specific level of radioactivity from any state-permitted solid waste disposal facility.
Pirner said South Dakota typically has, “if we’re lucky,” one rig drilling while North Dakota has 200 rigs drilling.
He said states reaping benefits from oil field development should take care of their own wastes and South Dakota shouldn’t become a dumping ground.
Jay Gilbertson, head of the East Dakota Water Development District, said South Dakota doesn’t have any issues now with oil and gas wastes and the legislation would be a good step.
“We don’t want any additional bad stuff coming into South Dakota,” he said.
The South Dakota Association of Rural Water Systems also supports the legislation.
Pirner said other counties in South Dakota aren’t as progressive as Harding County. If North Dakota well developers want to dispose of their wastes in South Dakota they should have to meet the same standards they would face in North Dakota, Pirner said.
“It’s definitely not water you want to put in your nearest creek or stream,” he said.