ND's Killdeer Mountains drilling dispute undecided

BISMARCK, N.D. -- North Dakota's Mineral Resources director says he likely will make a recommendation to state regulators next month on whether to allow oil drilling near the Killdeer Mountains Wildlife Management Area.

Hess Corp. wants to drill up to eight wells. Local rancher Loren Jepson and his son, Ross, have hired an attorney to fight the proposal they say will lead to a dangerous increase in traffic.

The Mineral Resources Department's Oil and Gas Division on Wednesday held a hearing. Hess officials said they plan to work to reduce safety issues. They also questioned Loren Jepson's assertion that there are historical artifacts on the land.

Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms says a decision on the sites will be "a very difficult balancing act" but he thinks a solution can be found.