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2010 Letter Opinions North Dakota Attorney General Reports and Opinions 1 (2010)

handle is hein.sag/sagnd0047 and id is 1 raw text is: LETTER OPINION
201 0-L-01
February 5, 2010
Mr. Wade Enget
Mountrail County State's Attorney
PO Box 369
Stanley, ND 587840-0369
Dear Mr. Enget:
Thank you for your letter requesting my opinion on whether Mountrail County's zoning
ordinance may be applied to oil, gas, or saltwater wells that are subject to the State
Industrial Commission's jurisdiction. You specifically ask about authority over determining
the location of such wells. It is my opinion that Mountrail County's zoning ordinances
cannot be applied to oil, gas, or saltwater wells because of the comprehensive nature of
the Industrial Commission's statutory authority which preempts county regulation of oil,
gas, or saltwater wells, including their location.
In your letter, you stated:
Mountrail County, if it had the jurisdiction, would require that all oil, gas or
salt water wells be zoned industrial. This would require that the surface
owners of all the lands upon which these wells are located to petition for
change of zoning. This process would then require a public hearing at the
County Planning and Zoning Board, with the recommendations of that
Zoning Board being then forwarded to the Mountrail County Board of
Commissioners for a separate public hearing. At that time, the Board of
Commissioners have the final say as to whether or not the application will be
approved or not.1
This office has previously determined that a county may not issue oil drilling permits.2
County zoning was specifically addressed in that opinion, and it was determined that the
comprehensive state laws regulating oil and gas production demonstrated the North
1 Letter from Wade G. Enget to Attorney General Wayne K. Stenehjem (Oct. 6, 2009).
2 N.D.A.G. 90-23.

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