New Department of Environmental Quality to Oversee North Dakota's Environmental Regulations
The State of North Dakota now has a standalone Department of Environmental Quality (NDDEQ) that is separate from the North Dakota Department of Health. Until this point, the North Dakota Department of Health was responsible for environmental oversight as well as community health, medical services, and emergency preparedness. Many states, including Minnesota, Montana, and South Dakota have environmental agencies that are separate from the States’ health departments. The creation of the NDDEQ elevates the responsibility for environmental oversight in the State to a cabinet-level agency.
Gov. Doug Burgum signed Senate Bill 2327 into law in April 2017. The legislation includes a deadline of July 1, 2019 for the Environmental Health Section of the Department of Health to obtain approvals and amend any necessary agreements to ensure the State maintains primacy over all Federal and State regulations that protect the air, water, and land in North Dakota. By July 2019, NDDEQ will assume responsibility for administering and enforcing North Dakota’s existing environmental protection programs. The legislation does not create any new or eliminate any existing environmental programs.
“Preserving our natural resources for current and future generations is top priority. 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,” says Gov. Burgum.
The director of the NDDEQ will be appointed by Gov. Burgum, and the position will report directly to the Governor. A new 13-member Environmental Review Advisory Board will oversee the NDDEQ. Board members will include the State Engineer, State Geologist, Director of the State Game and Fish Department, as well as 10 members who will be appointed by Gov. Burgum.