Noting that progress never comes without some hardship, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple last Tuesday said his state is prepared to spend up to $1.2 billion over the two fiscal years ending in mid-2013 to pay for enhanced local infrastructure and services needed to support the rapid oil/gas development in the western part of the state. From July through October $312 million was already allocated for infrastructure, water and housing needs.

There is still $885 million to come in the next 20 months, said Dalrymple, assuring local news media that the funds will be “pushed out the door” on a systematic, day-to-day basis.

State figures indicate that the 2011-13 allocation for oil gas-impacted counties will be a 186% increase over the 2009-11 monies, which are a combination of state taxpayer and federal highway funds. The $1.2 billion is a 281% increase over the 2007-09 period.

Dalrymple cited six principal areas for local needs that have been expanded significantly by the shale plays:

“The remarkable growth in western North Dakota’s oil and gas industry has created great benefits and opportunities for our state, but this growth brings its own challenges,” Dalrymple said. “Our progress is not without hardships, but we are fully committed to meeting the challenges of rapid economic growth.”

The governor told a press conference he will launch another road tour of the oil plays, visiting with city and country leaders in those areas to get what he called updated briefings on conditions in the state’s oil-producing counties. Other statewide officials will be holding a series of community meetings throughout the oil/gas counties to hear from local residents, Dalrymple said.

State assistance in the fossil fuel-impacted portions of the state include oil tax revenues that are allocated monthly to each county and city; grants from the Energy Impact Fund; funding for county, township and state road projects; tax credits for development of low-income housing; and financial assistance to deliver water to western North Dakota.

Dalrymple also announced that he was creating an energy development information council to address energy development issues in the western part of the state, including members from the general public, state government posts and the energy industry.

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