BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) _ A Fargo Democrat has introduced the toughest legislation to date aimed at curbing the oil industry's practice of burning and wasting natural gas as an unwanted byproduct of oil production.
Sen. Tim Mathern's bill hits the oil industry in its pocketbook by cutting out an easily used exemption. Oil producers can flare natural gas for a year without paying taxes or royalties on it. And companies can request an extension because of the ``economic hardship'' of connecting the well to a natural gas pipeline.
Mathern's measure mandates that companies pay taxes and royalties after one year, even if the gas goes up in smoke.
Mathern says the state is losing millions of dollars in tax revenue because the natural gas is being burned off and wasted.