Hoeven Presses BLM to Let States Lead in Regulating Flaring, Expedite Gas-Gathering Infrastructure Permits

WASHINGTON – At a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last week, Senator John Hoeven pressed officials from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to work with states and industry to reduce natural gas flaring by developing workable regulations, allowing states to take the lead in the regulatory process and addressing BLM’s backlog of permit applications for gas gathering infrastructure. Hoeven stressed that states are already making tremendous progress in reducing flaring and that multiple layers of regulation and permitting delays only increase costs and limit energy producers’ ability to make needed investments in infrastructure.

“We all want better environmental stewardship and to make the best use of our natural resources, but this can only happen in a workable regulatory environment,” said Hoeven. “Duplicative regulations and permitting delays only contribute to the problem. BLM needs to provide an expeditious permit process and ensure regulations are straightforward by coordinating with the states, industry and other federal agencies and allowing states to take the lead in this process. Doing so will empower industry to capture this important resource and prevent waste.”

Over the past year, both the BLM and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have released proposed rules for reducing methane emissions and flaring, in addition to state-level efforts. As written, the proposed rules would create duplication and conflicts within the regulatory process, which creates uncertainty and imposes unnecessary costs for energy producers.

Further, the siting of natural gas gathering lines is an especially difficult challenge in states with large amounts of federal land and Indian land. Significant delays in obtaining rights-of-way from BLM contribute to unnecessary venting and flaring from oil and gas wells whether or not the wells are located on federal land and Indian land.

To address this, Hoeven joined several of his Senate colleagues last year to reintroduce the Natural Gas Gathering Enhancement Act, legislation that sets deadlines for and expedites the permitting of natural gas gathering lines on federal and Indian land. In addition, as a member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, Hoeven continues to work through annual funding bills to address permitting and right-of-way application delays at BLM.