North Dakota's Oil, Coal Counties Get Top Ratings For Air Quality


North Dakota is a fossil fuel state, with strong oil and coal industries. And from the way environmentalists talk about the state’s energy industry, you’d also think that they were destroying our environment.

Not so, it seems. Despite the oil activity and natural gas flaring in oil country, and despite the seven large electrical plants in central North Dakota and addition to the EPA naming North Dakota as one of only seven states meeting all ambient air quality standards eight counties just got an “A” rating from the American Lung Association:

From the Bismarck Tribune:

The American Lung Association gave “A” grades to eight counties in North Dakota for lack of smog and to three counties for lack of dust.

The association released the information in its annual State of the Air report for 2013.

The eight counties, chosen for population or proximity to a national park and grasslands, are Billings, Burke, Burleigh, Cass, Dunn, McKenzie, Mercer and Oliver.

Billings, Burke, Dunn and McKenzie counties are all in the state’s oil patch and home to a lot of natural gas flaring. Mercer and Oliver counties are home to five massive coal power plants.

The only county in the state to get a B was Cass County, which got the ranking for air particulates. That county, of course, is on the opposite side of the state from the oil and coal areas.

And perhaps more North Dakota counties would get “A” ratings from this group as well. These were just the counties selected for grading due to their populations and proximity to national parks/grasslands.

All put together, it presents a picture of a state that can allow energy development on a massive scale while also providing prudent environmental protections.