Not Green: Obama Keystone Rejection Means More Gas Flaring

Finally something from the DeSmogBlog worth mentioning.

Below is an excerpt from “Demise of Keystone XL Means More Bakken Shale Gas Flaring.”

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Will Obama’s Pipeline Cancellation Enable Continued Bakken Gas Flaring?

An important January 23 story appearing in the National Journal explained (subscription required),

Most of Washington’s attention to the controversial pipeline has focused on the 700,000 barrels of Canadian oil it would ship daily from Alberta’s carbon-heavy oil sands to refineries in Texas. But almost a quarter of the pipeline’s capacity would have been oil from the recently discovered Bakken shale formation that spans North Dakota and part of Montana. (Snip)

Although it probably wasn’t intentional, Obama’s denial of the Keystone permit has made it more difficult for some U.S. companies to do what his administration and reelection campaign are taking credit for: increasing domestic oil and gas production. It’s an ironic twist, considering that the Bakken oil link likely sweetened the project for the administration initially.

Despite this development, the National Journal’s Amy Harder noted the Bakken Marketlink Project is still considered a possibility for TransCanada, even without the Keystone XL.

Yet, if the Marketlink Project goes down in flames alongside the Keystone XL, that means, ironically, more flames in the form of gas flaring.

The New York Times, in a key September 2011 investigation, revealed that the oil and gas industry flares roughly 30-percent of the gas fracked from the Bakken Shale.

The Times’ Clifford Krauss wrote,

Every day, more than 100 million cubic feet of natural gas is flared this way — enough energy to heat half a million homes for a day.

The flared gas also spews at least two million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year, as much as 384,000 cars or a medium-size coal-fired power plant would emit, alarming some environmentalists.

Why flare?

“I’ll tell you why people flare: It’s cheap,” said Troy Anderson, lead operator of a North Dakota gas-processing plant owned by Whiting Petroleum in The Times article. “Pipelines are expensive: You have to maintain them. You need permits to build them. They are a pain.

Though cheap, flaring is certainly not good for public health or the environment. Greener grass? Perhaps not…