Hoeven Introduces Empower States Act to Boost Domestic Oil and Gas Production, Grow U.S. Economy, Create Jobs

Measure Is a States-First Approach to Managing Hydraulic Fracturing

BISMARCK, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today announced that he will introduce the Empower States Act this week, a measure that will put states first in the regulation of hydraulic fracturing. Every state’s geology is different and nobody knows better than local experts and authorities how best to protect their own environment, Hoeven said.

Joining Hoeven for the announcement in Bismarck was cosponsor and ranking member on the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski. Hoeven hosted Senator Murkowski for a two-day tour to review the technological advances being used to recover oil and gas from the Bakken shale in the Williston region.

“The Empower States Act makes clear that America is safer and more secure when it has affordable energy supplies from domestic resources and that domestically produced oil and gas provides good jobs and economic opportunity for our people,” Hoeven said. “The legislation also recognizes that states have a long record of effectively regulating oil and gas development, including hydraulic fracturing, with good environmental stewardship.”

“Sen. Hoeven's bill provides for local accountability, local knowledge, and local communication instead of a one-size-fits-all federal approach to regulation,” Sen. Murkowski said. "Given the differences in geology and drilling techniques around the country, it makes sense to let the states take the lead on regulating oil and gas development.”

The Empower States Act helps to ensure that states retain the right to manage hydraulic fracturing and gives them the ability to respond first to any violation. Hoeven said the individual states are the first and best responders to oil and gas issues because they know their land and have a stake in protecting their environment. States have been successful in developing oil and gas production with good environmental stewardship, he said.

Under the legislation, before a federal department or agency drafts any new regulations relating to oil and gas development, including hydraulic fracturing, the agency must hold a hearing and consult with the state, tribe and local state agency within the state or reservation that will be impacted by the new regulation. To prevent the loss of jobs or a harmful effect on consumers or the economy, the agency must also develop a Statement of Energy and Economic Impact that identifies any adverse effects on energy supply, reliability, price, and the potential for job and revenue losses to the individual states’ general and education funds.

In addition, the agency must show a state or tribe does not have an existing alternative and that the new regulation is needed to prevent immediate harm to human health or the environment. That prevents any arbitrary decisions by the Environmental Protection Agency and allows the state to develop regulations that work in its unique circumstances.

Finally, the Empower States Act allows a state or tribe to seek redress in a federal court located within its own state or the District of Columbia and requires the court to thoroughly review the decision and not just rely on the EPA’s findings.

“With the right policies, I believe we can get our country to energy independence in five to seven years,” Hoeven said.