- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 3, 2015

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - A Wyoming House bill calls for taxing flared natural gas once a well has been in production for 90 days.

Supporters of the idea call flaring lost revenue for the state. Opponents say it would unfairly penalize companies with marginally producing wells.

Natural gas and oil sales are subject to state severance taxes. Flared gas is a byproduct of oil production and isn’t taxed.

A Casper Star-Tribune analysis of state data found the equivalent of $11.4 million worth of natural gas was flared off through the first 10 months of 2014. In 2013, lawmakers rejected a proposal to tax flared gas.

The Star-Tribune reported Tuesday (http://bit.ly/1EDsoOf ) the bill must pass the Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee by Friday to advance further in the current session.

Gov. Matt Mead asked the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to tackle the issue last year. The panel is working on setback regulations and has yet to take up flaring.

“We’re burning up revenue, a one-time resource for the people of our state,” said Rep. Stan Blake, a Green River Democrat and one of House Bill 238’s three co-sponsors.

Bruce Hinchey, president of the Petroleum Association of Wyoming, said some wells’ gas production is so small it’s uneconomical for producers to connect a flaring well to a pipeline. The association opposes the bill.

Richard Garrett, an energy policy analyst for the Wyoming Outdoor Council, said a flaring tax could help companies’ bottom lines by encouraging them to keep gas in pipelines.

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