North Dakota getting public input on oilfield emissions

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota environmental regulators want public input as they prepare to take greater control of emissions from oilfield facilities.

The Department of Environmental Quality has scheduled a hearing Tuesday in Bismarck, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

The Legislature this year approved funding for the agency so that the state can administer the federal emissions program.

North Dakota already has rules in place to prevent emissions of natural gas extracted from oil wells from escaping into the atmosphere. The state requires companies to install emission controls at well sites.

Oil companies must also comply with federal Environmental Protection Agency rules that seek to prevent emissions of volatile organic compounds, a source of pollutants within gas that can contribute to smog.

"It sets out a process by which companies need to maintain, inspect and report issues related to their operations," Environmental Quality Director Dave Glatt said.

The hearing Tuesday also will give the public a chance to weigh in on a formal petition from oil producer Continental Resources to change the state's emissions rules, a request that comes as the company and Environmental Quality await a state Supreme Court decision on a separate lawsuit that Continental filed over the state's emissions enforcement procedures.

Continental maintains that the state has imposed a "zero leaks" rule that "is impossible to achieve with current technology" and is more stringent than federal rules, the company said in its June petition to the department.

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com