I would like to set the record straight on some of the untruths set forth by Ron Ness in his piece deriding the BLM methane waste prevention rule. First off, Ness says that the rule was a “last minute rule” passed by the Obama administration.
This is a creative play on words by Ness. Yes, the BLM rule was passed at the end of the Obama administration, but only after more than six years of study, four listening sessions, four public hearings and more than 300,000 public comments. I attended a listening session and a public hearing in Dickinson. I can say unequivocally that at both hearings North Dakotans who supported the BLM rule outnumbered those in opposition. North Dakotans do not like flaring!
Ness also argues that the rule is duplicative. This is untrue. The rule sets a standard for controlling methane emissions but allows for states to apply for variances when states have rules that surpass the standards set by the BLM rule. In the case of North Dakota, its flaring rules would likely qualify North Dakota for a variance from the flaring-related requirements set out in the BLM rule. And because the North Dakota flaring policy applies to MHA Nation, North Dakota would have authority to regulate any flaring on the reservation over the state limit.
So, Ness’ argument regarding flaring on MHA Nation really holds no water. By blaming the BLM rule for increased flaring on MHA Nation between November 2016 and the present, Ness is blaming the BLM for a problem that the North Dakota Industrial Commission has failed to address for many years.
Ness in his opinion also failed to address the numerous benefits the rule provides to North Dakotans. The BLM rule when fully implemented will increase federal royalty payments that go to local governments throughout North Dakota, reduce wasted gas and reduce dangerous air pollution in the Bakken.