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Sen. John Warner, Ryder, N.D., Published February 15 2013

Letter: Clarifying policy on flaring of gas

While I appreciate the coverage that The Forum extended to Sen. Tim Mathern’s, D-Fargo, anti-flaring bill, I think your reporter missed the point of my testimony. I expressed concern about the waste of a natural resource, but the main thrust of my testimony dealt with the lack of sustainability in the current practice.

The collapse of the bison economy 100 years ago was caused by hunters killing a sustainable resource and taking only the profitable portion, the hide, leaving the rest to rot. In the course of little more than a decade, they destroyed an economy that had sustained itself for hundreds of years, impoverished a native people and forced mass relocations – not so different from what we are seeing in traditional North Dakota these days.

Just so, the wanton waste of gas through flaring is inhibiting the development of an industry that could sustain development in western North Dakota long after the oil boom is over. Natural gas is a rich feedstock for a host of industrial processes including fertilizers, solvents and plastics. Public policymakers should be pushing for the development of these value added industries and clamping down on the waste of natural gas is an important part of that public policy.

Warner, D-Ryder, has served District 4 in the North Dakota Senate since 2005.