Bill would reduce natural gas flaring

Three senators introduced a bill Wednesday that would expedite permitting natural gas gathering lines located on federal and Indian lands.

The Natural Gas Gathering Enhancement Act was introduced by Senators John Hoeven, R-N.D., John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.

Natural gas gathering lines are pipelines that ship unprocessed natural gas from oil and gas wells to natural gas processing plants which separate the gases (e.g., methane, ethane, propane) from one another. Once processed, the various gases are shipped along interstate natural gas pipelines to market.

The bill would help reduce flaring by making it easier to site natural gas gathering lines across federal land and Indian land.

It would provide a categorical exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act for certain natural gas gathering lines which are located on federal land (excluding the National Park System, the National Wildlife Refuge System and the National Wilderness Preservation System) and Indian land and service any oil (not natural gas) wells; and require the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture to issue rights-of-way for natural gas gathering lines that qualify for a categorical exclusion within 30 days, and rights-of-way for all other natural gas gathering lines servicing oil wells within 60 days.

The bill explicitly states that it would not affect laws requiring the consent of Indian tribes or individual Indians prior to the issuance of rights-of-way on Indian land.