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It`s no secret the oil and gas industry is developing rapidly in North Dakota.

The technique used to develop the Bakken`s rich shale oil has come under fire across the country, because of potential negative impacts on water quality. The US Bureau of Land Management is trying to sort through concerns at a series of forums, beginning Wednesday evening in Bismarck.

Hydraulic fracturing is a process that uses pressurized fluid and sand to break open oil and gas bearing rock underground. It`s widely used in North Dakota by oil producers, and in other states, it`s been blamed for endangering water quality.

Donald Nelson is a farmer and rancher in Keene. He`s also a mineral owner who`s concerned about the practice he says is kept under wraps.

"We`re pretty sure that they`re using hazardous material. We really can`t find out because there is no public disclosure," says Nelson.

Nelson is one of the forum speakers. Five others represent different viewpoints, including oil companies.

Whiting Petroleum is the second largest oil producer in North Dakota. The company says the process isn`t all that secretive.

"There are MSDS, Material Data Safety Sheets on every product that we pump and you have to remember that 99.5% of everything that we pump is sand and water," says John Paneitz of Whiting Petroleum.

Aside from just hydraulic fracturing, Nelson is also concerned about the rapid pace the industry is moving at, citing several spills in oil country in recent months. He says companies should slow down to make sure they`re being responsible, which Whiting Petroleum says is happening.

"There`s no reason for this mad dash. The oil`s gonna be there," says Nelson.

"We`ll make every effort to maintain pressure integrity in the well bore so there are no issues of contamination both on the surface and down hole," says Paneitz
Nelson is also concerned too much water is used in the fracking process. Whiting says there is an ample supply, but the company is looking at ways to save.

Whiting says unfortunately it is difficult to hire experienced workers since the oil industry is a victim of booms and busts. Meaning during a bust, employees are laid off and new ones are hired when there`s another boom.

Source: KFYRTV Bismark

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