Environmental group raises health, economic concerns about flaring in ND

Published: May. 31, 2023 at 7:50 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 1, 2023 at 11:28 AM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - It seems like, as long as there has been oil and gas, there have been concerns about the industry’s impact on the environment.

If you’ve been near the Bakken, flaring is probably a familiar sight to you. Although it’s decreased drastically in the past ten years, some are still raising concerns that not enough has been done by the oil and gas industry to maximize gas capture.

Flaring: an economic suck, according to some.

“It’s a loss of revenue, right? That’s revenue that could be going to things like after-school programs or housing. It’s not going to be a vast amount of money but it’s still money,” said Scott Skokos, executive director of the Dakota Resource Council.

They say it’s a health concern as well.

“I hear of people having respiratory problems, children getting nosebleeds,” said Delvin Rabbithead, Sr., president of Fort Berthold POWER.

And representatives from the Dakota Resource Council say, more of it happens on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation than off.

“The data that some groups like the Environmental Defense Fund have recently done around North Dakota have shown that there’s actually more flaring on the reservation than off the reservation,” said Skokos.

Representatives from the oil and gas industry say that’s simply not the case.

“Well, this is an incredible misrepresentation of the facts by the Dakota Resource Council. Gas capture is actually higher on the trust lands on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation than anywhere else in the state,” said Ron Ness, president of the ND Petroleum Council.

That data comes from the Department of Mineral Resources, but Skokos with the DRC believes the self-reported figures of 95% gas capture are incorrect.

“It’s very unscientific, there’s not a scientist with controls telling them exactly the volumes that are coming out of each of those wells,” said Skokos.

On that point, industry leaders also disagree.

The Dakota Resource Council is conducting its own data collection on the air quality and methane emissions on and off the reservation. Your News Leader will tell you all about it when they publish their findings next week.