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Bill could void Bakken oil conditioning and flaring rules

A bill sponsored by nine Republican lawmakers could potentially void North Dakota’s efforts to curb natural gas flaring and the conditioning of Bakken’s sweet crude, according to a report by The Dickinson Press.

Lead sponsor of the bill Rep. Keith Kempenich said that one of the bills is in response to the flaring goals and oil conditioning standards being approved by the Industrial Commission without going through the Legislature’s Administrative Rules Committee. The Dickinson Press reports that Kempenich said, “We need to be involved when they get into that broad of public policy. The Legislature was pretty much left out of the loop as far as what those policies were.” He added that the rules committee would have likely rejected the order to reduce flaring because the goals are “arbitrary.”

That order, adopted July 1, requires oil and gas producers in the Bakken and Three Forks shale formations to capture 77 percent of the gas being released by January 1, 85 percent by January 2016 and 90 percent by October 2020. If operators are unable to meet these goals they would be forced to cut back on production.

These goals, recommended by an industry task force, have already caused some producers to delay well completions. Spokeswoman for the Department of Mineral Resources Alison Ritter said operators will be hard pressed to meet the 2016 reduction goals, but officials have discussed pushing the goals back. The commission allows this flexibility because it isn’t a steadfast rule.

The order for the new oil conditioning standards, aimed to make Bakken crude safer for transport, are scheduled to go into effect April 1. The proposed bill, however, specifies that general orders that weren’t subject to the administrative rules process and were put into place after June 30, 2014 would be void, but not until the law takes effect January 1, 2016.

The orders for both flaring reduction and oil conditioning would be affected by the new law. Since the new law wouldn’t go into effect for another year, the commission would have time to submit the orders to the rules process. The approval process generally takes up to 10 months and requires public notices, comments, hearings and various reviews. Jeff Zent, spokesman for Gov. Jack Dalrymple, said, “What problem is it that needs to be solved? We think the current Industrial Commission is doing a good job, including its work to reduce flaring and to ensure that Bakken oil has limited volatility.”

Another bill that was filed this week aims to expand the state Industrial Commission from three to five members. The new additions would include the Public Service Commission chairperson and the state tax commissioner to the panel. The commission is currently made up of the governor, attorney general and agricultural commissioner. Additionally, Sen. Bill Bowman introduced a resolution calling for an interim study of the Industrial Commission and its membership’s relationships with the oil and gas industry. A recently submitted resolution notes that other states have regulatory boards comprised of industry experts.

36 comments

  1. Firefighters, Emergency Personnel, Lawmakers, and Media:

    Last June (2014), North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple called disaster agencies and emergency personnel together for a “tabletop exercise” to practice a response to a possible Bakken oil train derailment, and the subsequent explosions. They estimated there would be more than 60 deaths if such an incident occurred in Bismarck, ND (65,000 pop.) or Fargo, ND (110,000 pop.).
    http://www.prairiebizmag.com/event/article/id/19629/
    http://news.prairiepublic.org/post/inside-energy-making-bakken-oil-safer

    I don’t know the times, locations, or other variables, in the exercise calculations, but I can envision places in Bismarck and Fargo where the death count might be zero at certain times of the day. I could also think of cases, especially in downtown Fargo, when thousands would be in the blast zone.

    There were 47 deaths in Lac-Megantic (6,000 pop.) after a Bakken oil train derailed on July 6, 2013. Dozens of downtown buildings were incinerated, but due to the late hour, most of the people who died were assembled at one place of business.
    http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=lac-m%C3%A9gantic+train+derailment&qpvt=lac-m%C3%A9gantic+train+derailment&FORM=VDRE

    Then, on December 9th, 2014, all three North Dakota Industrial Commission members signed Order No. 25417.
    http://www.nd.gov/ndic/ic-press/dmr-order25417.pdf

    “This order will bring every barrel of Bakken crude within standards to improve the safety of oil for transport,” said Governor Jack Dalrymple, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, in a joint statement.

    Considering the improved safety, North Dakota officials should have updated projections of fatalities for Fargo and Bismarck. They would know the June variables and the change in composition of the contents of the tanker cars, due to the new Order. You could extrapolate the information to predict the deaths and damage for your community.

    What’s the new number for casualties? These people should know…

    North Dakota Industrial Commission
    701-328-3722
    ndicinfo@nd.gov

    Governor Dalrymple’s Chief of Staff
    Ron Rauschenberger
    701-328-2222
    rrausche@nd.gov

    Governor Dalrymple’s Director and Policy Advisor
    Jeff Zent
    701-328-2424
    jlzent@nd.gov

    Lynn D. Helms, Director
    Department of Mineral Resources
    701-328-8020
    lhelms@nd.gov

    Oil and Gas Division
    701-328-8020
    oilandgasinfo@nd.gov

    North Dakota Department of Emergency Services
    701-328-8100
    nddes@nd.gov

    Cass County (Fargo) Emergency Management
    Dave Rogness
    701-476-4065
    rognessd@casscountynd.gov

    Fargo Fire Department
    Steve Dirksen Fire Chief
    701-241-1540
    sdirksen@cityoffargo.com

    Burleigh County (Bismarck) Emergency Management and Homeland Security
    Mary H. Senger Emergency Manager
    701-222-6727
    msenger@nd.gov

    Bismarck Emergency Management Division
    Gary Stockert Emergency Manager
    701-221-6804
    gstockert@bismarcknd.gov

    Bismarck Fire Department
    Joel Boespflug Chief
    jboespfl@bismarcknd.gov

    Ron Schalow
    Fargo, North Dakota
    The Coalition for Bakken Crude Oil Stabilization

  2. Thats an outrage. Just shows how wasteful Republicans are when it comes to the environment.

  3. The same argument could be made about democrats and other people’s money.

  4. Another dead head Obama lover

  5. Get off the liberal talking points you look like an idiot

  6. Sounds like more north dakotans bought and paid for.

  7. This is the time to do it keep people working.

  8. So apparently it’s okay with you who are in favor of flaring to just continue to waste that energy, and as is screw the mineral owner out of what is their resource because the oil company’s just can’t be bothered to not burn it off, use it and compensate the owner. So big money operations have more rights than North Dakota land owners. Good to know fellow citizens got their neighbors backs here, …not. Fools like you is why we have electeds who just bend over and grab their ankles for these out of state companies to come in, tear up our land, keep finding their way to Bismarck. because of short sighted fools that like to crow and act tough on a post.

    • Well it looks like your gonna get your wish. The rig count is gonna go all the way down. And all us outfield scum will be out of your life. And all your landlords won’t be able to charge $2400 for a one bedroom apartment anymore. There will be no more money no more business, all the new stores they built will closed down. And their will be a handful of personnel to babysit the wells, and unemployment is gonna sky rocket. Probly make your day

    • If they had done it right instead of going at the drilling process like a bunch of raped apes, we wouldn’t have this problem. Blame it on the governor and the oil commissioner…..they fell into the pockets of the oil companies. I don’t want the industry to fall on it’s butt, but to waste natural resources if a damn shame, no matter if you are liberal,democrat, or republican….

  9. Honestly, it is surreal that companies out there are flaring it & consider that gas to be causing unwanted business expense, while companies out East are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to drill for it.

  10. That would because out “east” are Nat gas wells Michael Arnos

  11. Out East they flair for 2 weeks straight, rest a few days flair again. Ask why they do that worker said you can’t keep it all you have to burn the impurities off. We here on the East will blow-off 5 miles of 18 inch pipe just release it into the hillsides

  12. Tell you guys what you pay for the gas pipeline to connect nd to the rest of the usa and I’m sure they will send it wherever nd flares the gas because they aren’t connected to anything realistically and it costs to much to truck it all out just saying

  13. It is sad that a discussion of facts has to be ruined by name calling and hateful talk. I am referring to the comments section.

  14. They really do need to stop wasting all of that energy. Thousands of BTUs just blown away by the wind while I’m paying huge energy bills.dont make sense.

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