Hoeven, Heitkamp Introduce Legislation to Streamline Processing of Federal Oil and Gas Permits in ND

WASHINGTON – Senators John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp today introduced legislation to help streamline oil and gas permitting on federal lands in western North Dakota. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Streamlining Act expands the service area of the Miles City, Mont. office to include North Dakota and changes it to the Montana/Dakotas State Office. This will allow the office to process permits for North Dakota, expediting approvals, which currently take up to nine months.

“This is the kind of legislation that will not only help to create jobs in North Dakota and Eastern Montana, but will also help us to achieve our long-sought goal of energy security,” Hoeven said. “Currently, it takes about 180 to 270 days to permit an oil well on BLM land in North Dakota, compared to only about ten days on private lands. This is a no-cost solution that will help to make the federal permitting process more efficient.”

“This bill meets a need that both BLM and the industry in western North Dakota have been clamoring for,” Heitkamp said. “At no additional cost to the taxpayer, this bill will improve the efficiency and the timeliness of a process that has become severely backlogged due to the incredible oil and gas development in the Bakken Formation. In order to craft a national energy policy that truly looks to use all available resources, we must give the government and industry the tools needed to move forward with an energy future driven by American energy sources.”

The BLM field office in Miles City is part of the Federal Permit Streamlining Pilot Project, established in 2005, and designed to improve the coordination of oil and gas permitting on federal lands. This legislation would enable North Dakota to be part of the pilot project under the newly named Montana/Dakotas State Office. Pilot offices are charged with finding innovative ways to coordinate permitting to ensure efficient development with good environmental stewardship.

Hoeven introduced the same bill last year, and it was passed by the Senate. The House of Representatives did not pass the bill in the 112th Congress. Hoeven and Heitkamp are reintroducing the legislation during the new session and will work to pass it through both houses of Congress.