Senate GOP pushes bill curbing natural gas flaring

Three Republican senators are pushing legislation that fast-tracks permits for natural gas pipelines in an effort to curb gas flaring.

Sens. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoLacking White House plan, Senate focuses on infrastructure Effective climate protection means better policy and harnessing market forces GOP senators move to bolster border security, crack down on immigration MORE (Wyo.), John HoevenJohn HoevenGOP senator criticizes EPA head's closed-door meeting in North Dakota Senate GOP eyes end to August session McCain absence adds to GOP agenda’s uncertainty MORE (N.D.), and Mike EnziMike EnziSenate panel might not take up budget until October Debt group urges GOP chairman to avoid budget 'gimmicks' Fiscal hawks call for ‘mini-bargain’ on budget MORE (Wyo.) introduced the bill on Wednesday, which requires the Interior and Agriculture Departments to issues permits for the majority of gas pipelines within 60 days.

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"Abundant, low-cost energy shouldn’t have to wait on the federal government for approval,” Enzi said in a statement on Wednesday. “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.”

Wyoming, North Dakota and Texas are the states with the highest amounts of natural gas flaring and venting, according to the Energy Department's statistics shop.

Due to a rush of oil drilling and limited gas-gathering lines, which connect oil wells to processing plants, roughly 30 percent of the gas coming out of wells is being burned, or flared, as waste in states like North Dakota.

Gas flares in the Bakken shale oil field release roughly six million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year.

"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," Hoeven said in a statement.

Hoeven is referring to a recent move by an oil industry task force to curb natural gas flares by requiring producers create gas-capture plans.