Hoeven: Congress Passes Legislation to Improve Permitting Process for Energy Development, Grazing on Federal Lands

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today announced that Congress has passed provisions to improve the federal permitting process for oil and gas wells and grazing on federal lands. The provisions approved today include the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Processing Improvement Act, legislation cosponsored by the senator that makes permanent the BLM’s pilot permitting office in Sydney, Montana. This bill builds on Hoeven’s BLM Streamlining Act, which made it possible for that BLM office to process permits for North Dakota. The second provision provides the BLM and U.S. Forest Service with greater flexibility to efficiently renew and process grazing permits and leases for ranchers.

“The federal permitting process needs to be efficient and fair for our agriculture and energy industries,” said Hoeven. “The provisions approved by Congress today will help ensure that federal agencies are able to process oil and gas permits and grazing permits in a more effective manner.”

Improved BLM Energy Permits

The BLM Processing Improvement Act, cosponsored by Hoeven and authored by Senators Tom Udall (D- N.M.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), extends the BLM pilot program for improving the permitting process for oil and natural gas wells on federal lands. The BLM established the pilot offices in 2005 to improve permitting in the field, but the program was scheduled to expire at the end of 2015. This provision extends the program for 10 years, starting in 2016. The pilot program has helped to reduce delays and increase inspection capabilities. The Senate approved this legislation earlier this year. Today, it was approved by the full Congress as part of broader legislation.

This legislation builds on Hoeven’s BLM Streamlining Act, which expanded the service area of the BLM’s Miles City, Montana office to include North Dakota. That office is now able to process permits for North Dakota and has helped to address backlogs and delays. Hoeven’s BLM Streamlining Act helped to cut red tape and made the federal permitting process more timely and efficient for North Dakota producers.

Improved Federal Grazing Permits

A second provision provides the U.S. Forest Service and the BLM with needed authorities to more efficiently renew and process grazing permits and leases. This will help to reduce permitting backlogs and provide America’s ranching community with greater certainty. The legislation reduces the environmental review burdens without negatively impacting land health.