Gov. Doug Burgum signed a bill Friday that changes the threshold for reporting oil spills that are contained on well pads, a proposal that a landowner group urged him to veto.

House Bill 1151 will no longer require oil companies to report oil and produced water spills of up to 10 barrels, or 420 gallons, if the spills are contained on the location.

Burgum said in a statement the change will bring North Dakota standards in line with federal reporting requirements and continue to hold industry responsible for cleaning up all spills.

“Well sites built before Sept. 1, 2000, with less robust environmental safeguards will still be subject to the 1-barrel reporting requirement,” Burgum said. “This legislation is about collecting meaningful, actionable data.”

The Northwest Landowners Association, with 500 members, had urged Burgum to keep the 1-barrel reporting requirement for all spills.

The North Dakota Industrial Commission will implement the new standard following a rule-making process that will involve public input.

Also Friday, Burgum signed Senate Bill 2327, which separates the Environmental Health Section from the North Dakota Department of Health, creating a standalone Department of Environmental Quality.

“In the spirit of reinventing government, this new agency maintains existing staffing and program levels while giving our environmental team the autonomy it needs to be more efficient, flexible and better able to implement federal regulations, Burgum said. 

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