National Climate Plan Calls For Reduced Flaring


President Obama has issued a climate action plan that consists of three pillars: cutting carbon pollution, preparing the U.S. for climate change and leading the U.S. in international efforts to combat climate change. Part of his plan includes reducing methane emissions created during oil and gas development.

Obama highlighted the work of the Interagency Bakken Federal Executive Group, which is made up of 12 government bureaus. The group has been attempting to streamline the permitting process for energy development, identify production efficiencies and reduce the amount of associated gas flaring that occurs during oil retrieval. “When it comes to the oil and gas sector, investments to build and upgrade gas pipelines will not only put more Americans to work, but also reduce emissions and enhance economic productivity,” the plan states.

Due to the lack of available infrastructure needed to capture or move the resource, 15 to 18 percent of all associated gas in the region is flared.

Flare reduction isn't the only issue with which the Bakken working group has been tasked. The group, led in part by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, is working to manage the development of Indian Trust lands and minerals.

In 2012, the BLM approved 664 drilling permits, 418 of which were on Indian mineral leases. Since 2007, applications for drilling permits on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation within the Bakken play have increased from zero to more than 400, according to the BLM. This year, roughly 900 applications are anticipated. Over the past five years, royalty payments, an aspect of energy production on federal lands managed by BLM, have increased from less than $1 million to more than $257 million. “The pace is not expected to let up,” the BLM said.