- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 30, 2016

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota-based Montana-Dakota Utilities is among 41 energy companies taking part in a government-industry partnership to voluntarily reduce methane emissions from natural gas operations to help combat climate change.

The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday unveiled its Natural Gas STAR Methane Challenge Program. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, capable of trapping 25 times more heat than an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide.

EPA aims to reduce methane emissions by at least 40 percent over the next decade.

MDU will focus on excavation damages. President and CEO Nicole Kivisto says damage to natural gas pipelines by third parties is a “significant” cause of the company’s emissions.

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