Hoeven Reintroduces Legislation to Streamline and Improve Energy Development Permitting

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven (R-N.D.) this week reintroduced the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Mineral Spacing Act. The bill, which is cosponsored by Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.), would streamline and improve the permitting process for energy development, remove duplicative regulations and better respect the rights of private mineral holders. 

“The Biden administration continues to block federal oil and gas permitting and leasing, costing American’s good-paying jobs while increasing prices at the pump,” said Senator Hoeven. “Our legislation provides needed regulatory relief by cutting back on the duplicative and costly BLM permitting process, removing the need for a federal permit when the federal government has no surface rights and only a minority share in the subsurface minerals. Doing so is a commonsense reform that will better respect private property rights, while strengthening U.S. domestic energy production.”

“President Biden has made it his mission to undermine American energy development and production,” said Senator Barrasso.“American families need relief from Democrat policies that have sent utility bills soaring. Our legislation will help streamline the permitting process to meet our energy needs. It will cut burdensome red tape that crushes the development of affordable and reliable sources of energy.”

“The Biden Administration’s illogical energy policies set producers back, drive price hikes for every American, and punt supply-side opportunities overseas,” said Senator Cramer. “This bill chips away at excessive federal permitting and leasing regulations by leaving it to the expert state agencies when the federal government isn’t the majority owner of the minerals. North Dakota’s excellence shouldn’t be impeded by Washington’s mediocrity.”

“The Biden administration has demonstrated time and time again they want to stifle American energy, no matter how high the prices at the pump or how many Montana jobs they destroy. This bill is a crucial step forward in streamlining our nation’s energy permitting, investing in Montana jobs, and supporting an all-of-the-above portfolio of American energy,” said Senator Daines.

Specifically, the BLM Mineral Spacing Act: 

  • Removes the BLM permitting requirement in instances when:
    • Less than half of the subsurface minerals within a drilling spacing unit are owned by the federal government; and
    • The federal government does not own or lease any surface rights within the impacted area.
  • Allows the federal government to receive royalties from energy production within the particular drilling or spacing unit.
  • Subjects energy producers to all state laws, regulations and guidance governing energy activity in each relevant jurisdiction. 

“We applaud Senator Hoeven’s efforts in bringing regulatory certainty to our industry. We need to let the states take the lead in the permitting process when the federal government doesn't have a majority of the mineral interest. Local control always leads to more production and greater energy security for our nation,” said Ron Ness, President, North Dakota Petroleum Council.

“I’m committed to cutting bureaucratic red tape, especially for our hardworking energy producers who have dealt with stifling regulations from the Biden Administration,” said Congresswoman Bice. “Our legislation will allow the BLM to better utilize its resources and give power back to mineral owners. We must take steps to return to what America does best, which is producing affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy. I am thankful for the support of Senator Hoeven on this important issue.”

A companion bill to the BLM Mineral Spacing Act was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Stephanie Bice (R-Okla.) this week. The legislation comes as part of Hoeven’s ongoing efforts to unlock the nation’s energy potential. To this end, the senator continues to push back against the Biden administration’s harmful energy policies, including the restrictions placed on developing taxpayer-owned energy resources and leasing on federal lands. 

In 2022, the Department of the Interior (DOI) significantly reduced access to federal oil and gas reserves, only allowing 20 percent of available acreage for oil and gas leasing, while also raising production fees on the lands by 50 percent. Hoeven has repeatedly pressed the Biden administration, including Interior Secretary Debra Haaland, to reverse policies like this and enable the development of America’s abundant energy resources, including its oil, natural gas and coal reserves. To this end, Hoeven is also working to advance legislation that would prohibit any presidential moratoria on new energy leases and require DOI to hold lease sales in each state with available land, among other priorities.