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Lawyer Michael Avenatti arrested on a domestic violence charge. Also on the Thursday rundown: More testimony on Ohio's "anti-protest" bill; and we'll take you to the Dakotas to celebrate American Education Week.

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Millions of North Dakota Tax Dollars Used Up & Burned Off

PHOTO: A new report finds the amount of gas drilled on federal leases in North Dakota that's royalty-free, consumed or flared by operators, is equal to more than 40 percent of the total volume sold. Photo credit: Merlin/Flickr.
PHOTO: A new report finds the amount of gas drilled on federal leases in North Dakota that's royalty-free, consumed or flared by operators, is equal to more than 40 percent of the total volume sold. Photo credit: Merlin/Flickr.
December 8, 2014

BISMARCK, N.D. - The state's natural gas and oil boom is bringing in the dollars, but a new report says North Dakota and the nation are missing out on millions due to decades-old rules for drilling on federal lands. Ryan Alexander, president with Taxpayers for Common Sense, says their study found $380-million was lost from 2006 through 2013 due to loopholes allowing for companies to avoid royalties on the gas they use and the gas they vent or flare.

"A lot of people aren't aware of how much money that is," Alexander says. "It's one of the biggest sources of revenue to the federal government after taxes and a lot of times, the companies developing those resources are really getting sweetheart deals. This is just something where people aren't really aware; they don't think about it."

The report calls for Congress to change the law that allows for royalty-free gas consumption on public lands. It also seeks a change in drilling rules so a royalty can be collected on any gas leaked in excess of a "reasonable amount."

In recent years, the largest increase in the amount of gas flared when broken down by state has been in North Dakota. The industry calls it unavoidable loss, but Alexander says...

"That's waste. I think that's avoidable, I think they don't have to approve that," he says. "They can tighten the rules and say you have to use better technology, you have to use technology that will waste less gas. This is just wasted resources."

The Bureau of Land Management is in the process of updating rules for oil and gas losses on federal lands with a draft expected early next year.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - ND