What is it with North Dakota?
Why do we flare away over 30 percent of the natural gas brought to the surface by oil fracking while the rest of the nation's oilfields flare 1 percent?
Could it be that the other states stood up to oil companies from the start - with regulations that have teeth?
It certainly could be.
It seems our state let itself be intimidated from the start, not daring to even clear its throat and emit a faint "ahem" for fear the oil companies will leave if we do.
At least we are now talking more about regulations. But we've done some of this before. And we are getting tough by saying something has to be done in ten years. Good grief. There is, after all, a here and now solution for all the wasted natural gas and all the CO2 spewed into our air.
Statoil is showing the way by working with General Electric in implementing a technology called Compressed Natural Gas in a Box "that captures natural gas that would otherwise be flared and moves it by tank and truck to wherever it is needed."
The state's current non-policy is the equivalent of burning a million one dollar bills every month or so, lighting up the night time sky like New York City but without its culture and night life.
Our elected officials might be comfortable with all this waste and pollution, but the people are not. This is not the North Dakota way.
We have had our way sold-out to corporate enterprises whose interests are so narrow and short-sighted they seem very comfortable with making as much oil money as they can as long as they can, no matter what it does to North Dakota.
Our state officials have refrained from speaking out about all about damage to our land and sky, but Mother Nature has spoken with her own light show, recently destroying three saltwater storage silos with lightning.
These silos are no more likely to be struck by lightning than other structures but are more likely to burst into flames because of their particular construction materials.
And, of course, there have been a number of other poisonous brine spills apart from the lightning strikes.
Overall, there seems little planning or forethought about negative consequences to our oil extraction. The extent of any planning seems to be what is best right now to make the most money possible. And right-now planning is not planning at all.
So is this the course North Dakotans want? Or do we want our representatives to stand up more to the oil companies, as have other states with flaring thirty times lower than ours and with darkness at night in their oilfields?