Mitigating the impact of spills

Bismarck (N.D.) Tribune: It would be difficult to classify the early July saltwater spill near Mandaree that leaked 24,000 barrels of brine, a byproduct of oil production, as the first wake-up call to state officials.

State leaders and legislators have had ample warning already that these accidents can and will occur. While not entirely preventable, steps can be taken to reduce them by putting in place more stringent rules that would include pipeline monitoring systems and more frequent inspection of pipelines.

Saltwater, a naturally occurring byproduct of oil production, is toxic and harmful to the environment. Between 10 and 30 times saltier than seawater, it ruins the crop land and pasture land it comes in contact with. It’s not difficult to grasp the seriousness of the issue.

Despite that, during the 2013 legislative session lawmakers on both sides of the aisle overwhelmingly defeated a bill (86-4) that would have mandated flow meters and cutoff switches on pipelines carrying saltwater.

The oil and gas industry has been a boon to the state from a financial standpoint. Companies have prospered and new jobs have been created. Overall, it’s been a good thing.

Common-sense rules

But it can’t continue without common-sense rules and regulations in place. There’s too much at stake.

With the 2015 legislative session fast approaching, legislators need to be keenly aware that failing to act this time around isn’t an option.

It’s obvious that this particular problem, among other oil- and-gas-related issues, needs to be addressed. Lawmakers can’t be shortsighted.

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