North Dakota oil production fell 3% in March while the state's natural gas output was flat.

"Kind of a mixed bag" was how Lynn Helms, North Dakota's minerals director, summed it up in a news conference on Friday. He also criticized new federal environmental rules unveiled this week, which could greatly affect North Dakota's coal and electricity industries.

North Dakota, the nation's third largest oil-producing state, pumped out 1.12 million barrels of crude per day in March. That's down from 1.16 million barrels per day in February when the state posted its highest production since November 2021.

The number of drill rigs in North Dakota, a harbinger of future oil production, has been falling significantly this year — from 46 in February to 43 in April and 39 currently. A monthly state oil report blamed the decline on seasonal road restrictions.

North Dakota had 17,650 active oil wells in March, up a bit from February, meaning that output per well declined from month to month.

In addition to being a big oil state, North Dakota is a big producer of coal-fired power with five plants situated next to coal mines. On Thursday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency laid out new rules on carbon dioxide emissions.

"It is the Clean Power Act on steroids," Helms said, referring to an Obama-era proposal to mitigate carbon dioxide. The new EPA rules call for an end to CO2 emissions from fossil fuel power plants by 2038.

"I am sure the state of North Dakota will be very actively resisting these new EPA regulations," Helms said.

Most of Minnesota's coal plants will be closed by 2030. The state's natural gas power generators will be around for years thereafter. But Minnesota passed a law earlier this year requiring electricity producers to generate 100% clean power by 2040.

"Minnesota's 100% law is very closely aligned with the timing of the EPA rule," said Allen Gleckner, a lead director at advocacy group Fresh Energy in St. Paul.