Oil drilling is doing so well they’re burning natural gas …

by Matt Garrington

Apparently, oil drilling is doing so well, oil and gas companies are burning off nearly one-third of the natural gas they produce in North Dakota. Now, House Democrats are calling for a congressional investigation into these oil and gas drilling companies’ practice of wasting a viable energy resource.

The request follows an article in The New York Times exposing the process. According to the Times, loose regulations in North Dakota has led to the widespread practice of deliberate burning off natural gas, commonly known as gas flaring.

Reps. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Bobby Rush (D-IL) criticized the practice in a recent letter to House Republicans and Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI): “These wasteful practices appear to be a result of high oil prices and low prices for natural gas.  Investments in infrastructure to capture the natural gas associated with oil drilling are not keeping up with the rapid pace of oil exploration and development.”

The New York Times also reports the gas flaring is wasting enough “energy every day to heat half a million homes for a day” and dumps “two million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year.”

The reason oil and gas companies are burning off the excess production is due to lack or storage capabilities and lack of access to a gas pipeline, which has a widely covered, troubled past. Yet, these corporations continue to extract and waste America’s energy supply with little regard to the trouble created.

“Our goal should be to utilize domestic energy resources responsibly to reduce our dependence on imported energy, not to squander vast quantities of natural gas,” writes Reps. Waxman and Rush.

In North Dakota, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages approximately 1,700 oil and gas leases, which generated $12.3 million in revenue in 2006. The BLM returned $6.2 million to the state. There is no doubt that North Dakota residents will not be happy to learn oil companies are squandering hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential revenue for the state.

These are also the same oil and gas companies who have been complaining about drilling regulations on public lands. In Washington, executives continue to ignore the facts when testifying before Congress – misrepresenting the truth about energy production. In fact, oil and gas activity is actually nearing a 20-year high. So it is wild that these corporations continue to get away with wasting energy, demanding more taxpayer handouts, and double-down on American families hard-earned wages.

Kenya’s pipeline disaster opens eyes about Keystone XL expansion

4 Reasons why we should learn from the deadly accident in Africa

Image: CNN

As the death toll rises following a pipeline explosion in Kenya, the proposed Keystone XL pipeline awaits final approval in the United States.

Initial reports out of Nairobi say at least 68 residents of a densely populated part of the city died after Kenya Pipeline Company workers failed to contain a leak. The concern in the United States is that this disaster could become commonplace once TransCanada’s Keystone XL expansion is put into place.

1-Comparing infrastructure failures and the death tolls

While the Kenyan explosion is the first of its kind in the unstable nation, it is the tenth reported explosion in the African continent since 1998. Most of the reported incidents since 1998 happened in Nigeria where an estimated 2,000 lives have been lost because of pipeline related accidents. Still, the number of explosions in Africa over the last 13 years is far fewer than the number of pipeline accidents in reported by TransCanada’s existing Keystone pipeline in the past year alone. That number happens to be 12. Other reports reveal that between 2010 and 2011 nine different explosions in the United States caused 18 deaths, 13 injuries and 85 destroyed homes in the United States.
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