Energy-producing states have lately come under fire — no pun intended — for the rise in “flaring” at drilling sites.
If you’ve ever driven by an oil or natural gas rig and noticed a thin pipe emitting flames, you’ve seen flaring. It’s the process used to safely burn off excess natural gas when operators have more gas than they can store or transport.
Though the political Left and environmentalist groups have roundly criticized fossil fuel operators for flaring because it releases a small amount of greenhouse gases, ironically, this problem is partially of their own making.
In 2019, flaring increased more than two-thirds nationwide, fueled by the anti-pipeline movement. Because only a certain amount of natural gas can be stored before risking a hazardous buildup of pressure, operators often have no choice but to flare their excess. It’s an unfortunate waste of natural resources that could be easily prevented by embracing pipelines, which are by far the safest method of transporting natural gas. Oil and gas shipped by pipeline reach their destination safely more than 99.999% of the time. Allowing new pipelines to be built, using nationally recognized safety standards, would ensure operators can safely transport all the gas they harvest, boosting our energy industry and economy as a whole.
The ramifications of battling pipelines don’t stop with flaring. New York, for example, which banned fracking and vehemently fights any fossil fuel-related proposal, is often forced to import natural gas from Russia — despite being right next door to the country’s second largest natural gas producer, Pennsylvania. Importing energy the short distance across state lines would be vastly more efficient and cheaper — certainly a better choice for a state with a notoriously high cost of living — and, if greenhouse gases are a concern, produce much fewer emissions.
Ultimately, however, the minuscule amounts of carbon dioxide and methane produced in the flaring process don’t contribute significantly to climate change. In fact, even eliminating all fossil fuels nationwide, with all the associated cost, would barely move the needle. However, those concerned about carbon dioxide should think carefully about their position on pipelines.