A program aimed at helping North Dakota communities deal with the effects of rapid energy development will have far less money than originally forecast due to slumping oil activity



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BISMARCK, North Dakota — A program aimed at helping North Dakota communities deal with the effects of rapid energy development will have far less money than originally forecast due to slumping oil activity.

The funding expected to come in to the Oil and Gas Impact Grant Fund for the two-year budget cycle is $28.6 million, according to new budget revenue numbers released this week. That's less than half of the $65.6 million that the North Dakota Department of Trust Lands estimated would be available.

The revised estimate is "a pretty dramatic shift," State Land Commissioner Lance Gaebe tells the Bismarck Tribune (http://bit.ly/1PwkqYN ).

"We'll be trying to make some decisions soon," said Gaebe, adding that some grants may have to be cut or delayed. "It is what it is. It's nobody's fault. It's unfortunate events, but we'll get through it."

Last year, lawmakers approved $140 million in oil gross production tax dollars for the fund.

The state's most recent quarterly mineral acre lease auction, which was held last week, brought in a lower amount of bonus payments compared to the previous auction held in November.

More than $1.85 million was collected last Tuesday from a total of 24,628 acres spread among 13 counties. That's significantly less than the $8.45 million collected from 10,541 acres in November.

Dollars from auctions go into several state trust funds for areas like education.


Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com

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