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EPA environmental crimes office opens in ND

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 22, 2014 at 4:16 pm •  Published: August 22, 2014

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency's law enforcement arm has opened an office in Bismarck so that it will have a bigger presence in the North Dakota's booming oil patch.

Jeffrey Martinez, the special agent in charge of the EPA's Criminal Investigation Division office in Denver, said the Bismarck office opened at the end of July but isn't permanently staffed yet.

"This is a first step and I'm hopeful that it will lead over time to a fulltime presence," said U.S. Attorney Tim Purdon.

The Criminal Investigation Division is made up of 200 federal agents who are tasked with upholding environmental law.

"Environmental crimes involve lying, cheating and stealing like any other crime," said Maritnez. "We try to pick the worst of the worst."

In less than a decade, North Dakota's oil production has gone up tenfold, to over 1 million barrels of oil a day. The proliferation of oil infrastructure — more than 11,000 wells, along with pipelines, waste disposal sites and drilling rigs — has increased the potential for violations of environmental laws.

Martinez said the number of investigations his division has done in the state has gone up "exponentially" since the oil boom began.

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