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Associated Press, Published February 12 2013

ND natural gas flaring bill under fire

BISMARCK — A state Senate committee has given a do not pass recommendation to a measure aimed at curbing the oil industry's practice of wasting natural gas.

A vote before the full Senate is slated Wednesday.

Natural gas is a byproduct of oil production and companies can burn off or "flare" natural gas for a year without paying taxes or royalties on it. Companies can then ask state regulators for an extension because of the high costs of moving the gas to market.

Sen. Tim Mathern introduced the measure and says the amount of natural gas burned off each day in North Dakota's oil patch could heat more than 500,000 homes.

Opponents of the measure say companies have invested $4 billion to move the gas to market.

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Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.