North Dakota needs a different approach to flaring

There is no question that energy production is important to North Dakota’s economy. Along with agriculture it is arguably the most impactful aspect of the state economy. It creates state revenue and it produces jobs. About this, there can be no reasonable debate.

The practice of flaring, however, needs to be examined and addressed by the state.

However, according to a recent report by the Associated Press, North Dakota oil drillers are falling far short of the state’s goals to limit the burning of excess natural gas at wellheads, five years after the state adopted the rules to reduce the wasteful and environmentally harmful practice.

Flaring is the practice of burning off natural gas that is produced as a byproduct of oil drilling. It’s an inevitable aspect of energy production.

Yet, North Dakota isn’t just failing to meet state-set standards and falling well short of natural averages, our energy production is increasing and it seems unlikely to meet national standards.

In 2014, when more than one-third of gas was being burned off, North Dakota began requiring oil companies to limit flaring to no more than 15 percent by 2016, and to 10 percent by 2020.The national average is less than one percent.

North Dakota has not met that standard. Furthermore, projections assert there will be more North Dakota energy production and we aren’t even really close to meeting the standards.

Energy is an essential component of our state economy – one of the reasons for our epic low unemployment.

But the state also needs to address the flaring issue an to add teeth to regulations, to demand compliance.

It’s the right thing to do.