Study concludes North Dakota gas capture could have prevented thousands of hospital visits and millions of dollars in medical expenses

(Fargo, ND) -- A researcher is drawing attention to results of his study focused on alleged health impacts of flaring in North Dakota's oil fields. 

"About 2015 we started seeing reports that North Dakota was flaring a billion dollars year worth of natural gas, and we're like, that's a lot," said Dr. Wesley Blundell, Assistant Professor of Economics at Washington State University. 

Blundell says thousands of respiratory-related hospital visits and millions of dollars in medical expenses and lost wages were caused by natural gas flared at North Dakota oil wells. Blundell says all of that could have been prevented had the state met it's gas capture goal during the nine year period beginning in 2007.  

"The areas exposed to the greatest amount of flared natural gas upwind are not necessarily the areas that are getting the highest value of oil extraction. That is they are not areas you would expect to be getting a lot of the economic benefit," said Blundell. 

STUDY LINK: Natural gas flaring, respiratory health, and distributional effects

Original Air Date: 
Monday, January 9, 2023