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Senators Introduce Bill to Reduce Natural Gas Flaring

Bill expedites the permitting of natural gas gathering lines needed to capture gas which would otherwise be flared.

March 12, 2014

Today, U.S. Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), John Hoeven (R-ND), and Mike Enzi (R-WY) introduced the Natural Gas Gathering Enhancement Act. The legislation expedites the permitting of natural gas gathering lines located on Federal land and Indian land.

Natural gas gathering lines are pipelines that ship unprocessed natural gas from oil and gas wells to natural gas processing plants which separate the gasses (e.g., methane, ethane, propane) from one another. Once processed, the various gases are shipped along interstate natural gas pipelines to market. 

“Our bill will reduce unnecessary flaring and help energy companies safely capture and sell more natural gas. It’s a win for state and federal budgets and our environment,” said Barrasso. “States like Wyoming are making strides in reducing the flaring of natural gas during oil production – and it’s time for Congress to do the same.”

“Our legislation is a good example of how we can produce more energy with better environmental stewardship by empowering states and tribes to develop their energy resources,” said Hoeven. “North Dakota set a goal of reducing flaring in the State by over 60 percent in six years and this legislation helps accomplish that goal. That not only helps to grow our economy and create jobs, but also brings us closer to our long-sought goal of true energy independence.”

“Abundant, low-cost energy shouldn’t have to wait on the federal government for approval,” said Enzi. “But that’s often what happens when we lose natural gas to flaring on account of delays in permitting infrastructure improvements. American energy is ready to power our country if Washington would just get out of the way. We can do better and our legislation is one step in that direction.”


According to the Energy Information Administration, the states with the highest amounts of natural gas flaring and venting are North Dakota, Texas and Wyoming. The siting of natural gas gathering lines on Federal land and Indian land is an especially difficult challenge in Wyoming and North Dakota. The North Dakota Petroleum Council Flaring Task Force estimates that 40 percent of natural gas production is flared at oil wells on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, while 27 percent of natural gas production is flared at oil wells on state and private land.

The Natural Gas Gathering Enhancement Act would help reduce flaring by making it easier to site natural gas gathering lines across Federal land and Indian land.

 The bill would, among other things:

  • provide a categorical exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act for certain natural gas gathering lines which are located on Federal land (excluding the National Park System, the National Wildlife Refuge System, and the National Wilderness Preservation System) and Indian land and service any oil (not natural gas) wells; and
  • require the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture to issue rights-of-way for natural gas gathering lines that qualify for a categorical exclusion within 30 days; and rights-of-way for all other natural gas gathering lines servicing oil wells within 60 days.

The bill explicitly states that it would not affect laws requiring the consent of Indian tribes or individual Indians prior to the issuance of rights-of-way on Indian land.