Mike Kopp (April 29) asserts Sen. Heidi Heitkamp is not supportive of North Dakota’s energy industry, but she has shown strong support for the oil industry, especially in her leadership role to overturn the ban on exporting crude oil that had been in place since the 1970s.
Her vote to uphold the 2016 BLM Methane Waste Rule illustrates her commitment to finding solutions to the huge waste of natural gas occurring on public and Indian lands within North Dakota. Flaring of the gas benefits no one. Capturing the gas would provide income for oil companies and mineral owners. BLM’s proposed revisions to the rule include deferring to state flaring regulations. This is not a good plan for North Dakota. Flaring goals are not consistently met, and regulations are not enforced.
Yet, on April 17, our Industrial Commission approved a policy that increases the duration of allowable flaring. Each day in February, 256 million cubic feet of gas was wasted through flaring. From my home on Fort Berthold I see approximately 30 to 70 flares. The number varies from day to day, but there is never a day without flaring.
In April, there were 1,801 active wells on fee and trust lands within Fort Berthold. Thirteen drilling rigs were working, and an additional 431 drilling permits had been approved. The number of potential future wells on Fort Berthold is 3,786. Older wells have been flaring for years, and the amount of gas will increase as oil production decreases. New wells will be allowed to flare for 60 days, and operators will be allowed to remove volumes flared from the total monthly volume calculations.
BLM and North Dakota have capitulated to industry demands for weaker regulations, when North Dakotans know a much stronger approach is needed to manage this problem.
Carol Ventsch, New Town