BLM Hosts Public Forum on Proposed Flaring Rules

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Flaring is a topic that ignites controversy.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is proposing to change a 30-year-old rule to reduce emissions.

BLM held a public forum in Dickinson Thursday to get public feedback.

More than 200 people packed the forum to voice their opinions on this controversial topic.

The room was split between supporters and opponents of BLM's proposed venting and flaring rules.

New flaring rules ignited conversation at a public forum held by BLM.

"We've proposed some ideas we want to hear how they feel that would impact them on the ground and if what we are proposing isn't something they feel is appropriate we like to hear what they recommend," said Al Nash, BLM Montana-Dakotas.

State oil industry leaders argue North Dakota has some of the most intricate gas capture rules in the nation. At last recording, the state gas capture was 85 percent. BLM's proposal wants a specific volume per well, which leaders say is unconventional

"The rule is really complex as is gas capture and there are many areas of this proposed rule that overlap, some duplicate, some conflict with the state gas capture rules," said Lynn Helms, Department of Mineral Resources.

"There will be several economic and socioeconomic impacts that go along with it, the least at which is jobs and especially in this current environment. It's a very important point," said Tessa Sandstrom, North Dakota Petroleum Council.

Other organizations applaud BLM for proposing rules, saying it will better manage gas emissions.

"We are delighted as an organization with the fact that BLM is stepping up to address the waste of gas happening on public lands," said Robin Mann, Sierra Club vice president.

Those who live near oil sites, including the Fort Berthold Reservation, say current rules don't address long term health effects.

"We are unaware of the overall health impact. We still need to monitor more studies, more analysis, all that still needs to be taken into consideration and none of that is happening on our reservation," said Lisa DeVille, Fort Berthold Power.

Industry says BLM's proposal as written is estimated to decrease oil production by 20 percent because the production capacity of new wells will be too low to be economic. This in turn would have big impact on state tax revenues and royalty revenues.

"Be careful what you ask for, make sure you propose reasonable regulations as the state has done and then of course we will all work to reduce it from there," said Andy Peterson, Greater North Dakota Chamber.

No decisions were made at Thursday's meeting, but comments were recorded.

The public has until April 8 to make comments on the proposal. Helms asked for a 60 day extension, but it is something BLM is still taking into consideration.