Hoeven Introduces Updated 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

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven Thursday announced that he has filed an updated version of the Empower States Act, a measure he authored that will put states first in the regulation of hydraulic fracturing. The senator said every state’s geology is different and nobody knows better than local professionals and authorities how best to protect their own environment. The measure is being cosponsored by Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and David Vitter (R-La.).

“The Empower States Act drives home the importance of states in the effort to develop affordable energy supplies from domestic resources, which helps to create good jobs and economic opportunity for the American people,” Hoeven said. “States have a long and respected record of effectively regulating oil and gas development, including hydraulic fracturing, with good environmental stewardship.”

“North Dakota’s oil and gas production and development are unique compared to the rest of the country,” said Heitkamp. “And because of that, we need to make sure that our state maintains the ability to be the primary regulator for energy development in the Bakken, as we understand what’s happening on the ground better than anyone else. I’m proud to cosponsor a bill that would help make that possible.”

The Empower States Act helps to ensure that states retain the right to manage oil and gas production and gives them the ability to develop hydraulic fracturing rules and 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.

The bill also allows the states to regulate oil and gas development on Bureau of Land Management lands if the state has laws and regulations in place that protect health and the environment.

Hoeven cited a recent letter Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal wrote to Saudi government leaders cautioning them that hydraulic fracturing in North America and elsewhere in the world will reduce those countries’ dependency on Saudi Arabia for crude oil. Bin Talal said the Arab Kingdom needs to diversify its economy in coming years to hedge against declining demand for Middle Eastern oil.

“For fifty years, OPEC, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, has manipulated oil markets and held the United States and other industrial nations hostage because of our heavy dependence on foreign oil,” Hoeven said. “Now, the Saudis and other OPEC countries are coming to the realization that hydraulic fracturing in North America and elsewhere in the world can break that grip. We in the United States can produce abundant energy domestically and with our closest friend and ally, Canada. That’s precisely why we need the Empower States Act.”