Hoeven Outlines Need for Streamlined Permitting for Energy Infrastructure

Senator Advancing Legislation to Address Delays in Infrastructure Approvals

WASHINGTON – At a recent hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Senator John Hoeven outlined the need to improve the permitting process for energy infrastructure, such as pipelines and electrical transmission lines. Hoeven addressed the complexities in federal and state permitting with the hearing’s panel, which included representatives from the energy industry and regulatory compliance experts, stressing how long, multi-year delays in project approvals create uncertainty, hurt the grid’s ability to meet energy demands and undermine economic growth.

“When there is a need for power, whether it be for natural gas or electricity, we can’t wait anywhere between three to seven years or more to deliver that service,” Hoeven said. “This uncertainty makes it tremendously difficult for businesses to invest in new operations, especially ones that are energy intensive, such as manufacturing. Further, instability and insufficient power in the grid greatly affect our citizens’ quality of life, potentially leading to life-threatening situations. That’s why we are working through legislation like my North American Energy Infrastructure Act and other measures to streamline this complex process and help meet the infrastructure demands of our nation’s economy.”

This hearing is timely for North Dakota, with oil and gas production in the Bakken region projected to increase. The state already produces six times more energy than it consumes, including recent all-time-high production rates of more than 2.3 million cubic feet of natural gas and 1.24 million barrels of oil each day. This reinforces the need to ensure energy can be transported from where it is produced to where it is consumed.  

To this end, Hoeven recently reintroduced his North American Energy Infrastructure Act, legislation that would prevent unnecessary delays for important energy infrastructure projects that cross national boundaries between the U.S. and Canada or Mexico. Among other things, the bill would eliminate the Presidential Permit requirement for cross-border projects and put the decision making into the hands of appropriate agencies.

Hoeven is also working to address the backlog of permit applications at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for oil and gas wells, as well as gas-gathering infrastructure. Hoeven’s BLM Mineral Spacing Act would help accomplish this by waiving the requirement for a federal permit when less than 50 percent of subsurface minerals are owned or held in trust by the federal government and there is no federal surface land. This would help free up BLM’s staff and resources and address the backlog of applications for permit to drill (APD) on federal lands. Further, the senator helped introduce the bipartisan Natural Gas Gathering Enhancement Act last Congress, which would set deadlines for and expedite the permitting of natural gas gathering lines on federal and Indian land. 

Hoeven’s efforts dovetail with an executive order issued by the president last year to streamline the review and permitting process for major infrastructure projects. Specifically, the order implemented a single, streamlined policy for federal decisions, with all relevant agencies working under a lead agency and signing a joint Record of Decision. The order also set a two-year goal to process all environmental documents for all major infrastructure projects.