North Dakota's Industrial Commission showed leadership in its vote to modify the flaring rules.
Some — like the state Democrats, Dakota Resource Council and Sierra Club — will want you to believe that this is a catastrophe. In actuality, the facts are pretty simple: Flared gas represents a very small portion of value produced by oil wells in North Dakota.
States like Texas have had 100 years to construct pipeline and plant infrastructure. Our state is essentially in the first 10 years. We are making strides, but midstream companies need time and economics to make progress. In the meantime, we should not punish producers for investment decisions made by others.
Strict adherence to the rules would have forced companies to curtail production at current wells and stop drilling new wells. You might feel fine about the lost revenues for oil producers, but the resulting job losses and lost tax revenue would have crippled the state economy and eliminated state investment to all its cities.
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It was pragmatic decision under political pressure that exemplifies how these officials — Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem — can make the hard decisions as our leaders.
Luckily, the citizens of North Dakota chose against the political opportunists among the state Democrats and environmental radicals. We can be proud that we put the grownups in charge.