North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple, who will help decide whether an oil company can drill 100 feet from Theodore Roosevelt National Park, owns stock in the oil company making the request.
Dalrymple owns shares of stock in ExxonMobil, owner of XTO Energy, which staked out a four-well pad on Forest Service land next to the park’s Elkhorn Ranch site.
Through a spokesman, Dalrymple said he is not going to disclose the details of those shares, including how many or their value.
“He is not going to discuss the details of his personal finances,” said Jeff Zent, the governor’s policy adviser.
He said the governor did disclose his financial interests with the secretary of state’s office, as required.
The governor lists interest in ExxonMobil and dozens of other companies on an attachment separate from his Merrill-Lynch retirement plan. The list doesn’t contain the number of shares owned.
The park’s Elkhorn Ranch site preserves where Roosevelt built his cattle ranch cabin in 1884 on the Little Missouri River north of Medora.
Wells are staked 100 feet from the site boundary and public parking lot there, but XTO spokesman Jeff Neu said there’s no official decision on the exact location.
“We are looking at the potential for other locations,” he said.
Park Superintendent Valerie Naylor calls the possible wells the worst threat to the park in its history.
The case is scheduled to be heard March 28 by a five-member hearing examiner board, which makes a recommendation to the state Industrial Commission.
Dalrymple is chairman of the commission. Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and Agricultural Commission Doug Goehring are members. Neither Stenehjem nor Goehring list interest in ExxonMobil on their disclosure forms.
The attorney general says it’s appropriate for the governor to abstain from voting only if he has “direct and substantial personal interest in a decision,” Zent said.
The wells were staked in cooperation with the Medora District of the Little Missouri National Grasslands, a Forest Service agency.
Forest Service spokeswoman Babete Anderson said the wells were staked on the west end of the XTO spacing unit, about two miles away from the park, and then flipped to the east side near the park. She said the spacing unit is still staked on both ends.
There is no well location in the case file that will be heard by the board on March 28, either. The order based on the hearing is for the number of wells on a spacing unit, but not where. The well pad location isn’t required until a well gets to the permit stage, said Mineral Resources Department spokeswoman Alison Ritter.
The wells also require a federal permit and XTO has not yet made application for one. XTO acquired the mineral leases in 2004. They expire next year unless a well is drilled.