A look over the law: N.D. Law Review scoping out oil, gas development use issues

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School of Law


GRAND FORKS - The University of North Dakota School of Law in Grand Forks is working on becoming the go-to-source for energy law.

This past year the North Dakota Law Review hosted a symposium event on energy law and corresponding land use issues. A corresponding hard copy issue of the N.D. Law Review will be available later.

"In hosting the symposium event, it is the North Dakota Law Review's goal to shed light on important legal issues within the state of North Dakota," said Lindsey Harris, energy law symposium's issue's editor.

"It is evident that oil and gas is a hot topic in North Dakota," Harris said. She said the focus on the recent symposium was energy law and corresponding land use issues.

"Although oil and gas is the buzz word in energy law, North Dakota is home to numerous energy sources. Each energy source comes with a unique set of intricacies, one of which being how can we best use the land.

"Because North Dakota is home to not only many energy extraction sources, but to federal land, private land and tribal land, this unique situation provides for a great backdrop where other states can view how to best approach land use issues," Harris said.

Ray Cross, a professor at the University of Montana School of Law in Missoula, Mont., and former attorney for the Three Affiliated Tribes on the Fort Berthold Reservation, was among the presenters at the symposium.

He also spoke about the oil and gas development on Fort Berthold Feb. 1-2 in New Town at the International Energy Oil & Gas Summit sponsored by the Nueta, Hidatsa and Sahnish Allottees.

Marilyn Hudson, Cross's sister from Parshall and administrator of the Three Tribes Museum in New Town, said he told the group that some have compared the oil boom to a tsunami, but a tsunami is an act of God, and an oil boom is an act of man and can be controlled. He said planning must be done now and in the future.

An enrolled member of the Three Affiliated Tribes, Cross authored for the upcoming N.D. Law Review edition an article on the impact of oil and gas development on Fort Berthold.

Harris said that in the spring of 2010, the N.D. Law Review explored the development of energy extraction, specifically oil and gas in North Dakota.

The recent symposium included coverage of hydraulic fracturing in N.D., practicing energy law in the state, new energy developments, energy extraction on federal and Native American lands, and environmental protections on energy extractions.

"In doing another energy law symposium, it is our hope that the University of North Dakota School of Law will host an energy law symposium every two years. In creating a reoccurring energy law symposium, we hope to transform UND School of Law into the go-to-source for energy law," Harris said.

A hard copy of the N.D. Law Review focusing on energy law and land use will not be available until this summer, Harris said. However, she said, the symposium event was recorded and is available online at (law.und.edu/law-review/symposium/2011-energy-law.cfm).