On Monday the Environmental Law & Policy Center held a press conference at the state capitol in Bismarck during which they claimed that 30 percent of the state’s wells were non-compliant with legally required gas capture plans.
If true that would have been shocking news, and something of a bombshell coming just before the North Dakota Industrial Commission was to rule on some changes to flaring targets laid out for the industry (they approved the changes yesterday).
Problem is, it wasn’t true. Mike Nowatzki reports:
In an email Friday to department spokeswoman Alison Ritter, ELPC media relations manager David Jakubiak acknowledged the center released incorrect findings and apologized for any difficulty it had caused.
“As we began the second phase of our analysis of gas capture plans, we discovered the Department of Mineral Resources gave us additional data which our analysis did not account for,” Jakubiak wrote in an emailed statement to Forum News Service. “As a result, we are withdrawing the initial findings pending a full review. We will be re-analyzing the data to determine if the gas capture plans are doing what they are intended to do – reduce wasteful flaring.”
Well that’s embarrassing. And I’m honestly now sure how they could have screwed up that badly. If almost a third of all the oil wells in the state weren’t in compliance with their gas capture plans, how on earth could the overall flaring rate be dropping like it has been?
Meanwhile, did anyone else notice that while North Dakota Democrats were targeting Attorney Wayne Stenehjem ahead of the flaring hearing, they’ve been largely silent on the issue after? Despite the fact that the NDIC did move around some of the deadlines for flaring reduction?
Maybe they figured out that siding with environmental extremists against modest, reasonable changes to the flaring regulations wasn’t such great politics.