Natural gas companies in Texas are employing flaring because of the lack of transport pipelines, officials said.
The Texas Railroad Commission, the state agency regulating the oil and natural gas industry, increased the number of flaring permits from 107 in 2008 to 651 last year, a spokeswoman told The Texas Tribune in Austin, Texas.
That's in part due to the boom in production from shale oil and natural gas deposits in Texas. Oil and natural gas companies typically flare off associated gas from oil fields and production from the Eagle Ford shale deposit last year topped 30 million barrels.
With the boom, the Texas news organization reports, comes an increase in the demand for pipelines and infrastructure needed for processing associated natural gas.
"There's just more demand for pipelines than they can currently keep up with," James Mann, a lawyer who represents state pipeline companies, told The Texas Tribune.
Environmental groups have expressed concerns about chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, the process used to coax hydrocarbons from shale deposits. But flaring poses concerns in the form of nitrogen oxide and sulfur oxide pollution.
"There is clearly a cause for concern with the sheer magnitude of flaring that is taking place due to the potential air quality and climate impacts," Ramon Alvarez, a scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund, told the Tribune.