Hoeven, Senators Introduce Bill to Reduce Natural Gas Flaring

Bill expedites the permitting of natural gas gathering lines needed to capture gas that would otherwise be flared

WASHINGTON – Today, Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) introduced the Natural Gas Gathering Enhancement Act. The legislation expedites the permitting of natural gas gathering lines located on federal and Indian lands.

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.

“Our legislation is a good example of how we can produce more energy with better environmental stewardship by empowering states and tribes to develop their energy resources,” Hoeven said. “It will create better environmental stewardship, and at the same time, move us closer to our long-sought goal of true energy independence.”


According to the Energy Information Administration, the states with the highest amounts of natural gas flaring and venting are North Dakota, Texas and Wyoming. The siting of natural gas gathering lines on federal land and Indian land is an especially difficult challenge in Wyoming and North Dakota. The North Dakota Petroleum Council Flaring Task Force estimates that 40 percent of natural gas production is flared at oil wells on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, while 27 percent of natural gas production is flared at oil wells on state and private lands.

The Natural Gas Gathering Enhancement Act would help reduce flaring by making it easier to site natural gas gathering lines across federal land and Indian land.

The bill would, among other things:

  • 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.