Hoeven: Senate ENR Committee Advances BLM Mineral Spacing Act

Senator Introduced Legislation to Streamline and Improve Energy Development Permitting

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today secured approval of his Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Mineral Spacing Act by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Hoeven’s legislation, cosponsored by Senators Kevin Cramer and Steve Daines, would streamline and improve the permitting process for energy development, remove duplicative regulations and better respect the rights of private mineral holders.

“Our legislation is about alleviating the regulatory burden for energy developers and empowering private mineral holders to exercise their property rights,” said Senator Hoeven. “It doesn’t make sense that the federal government can veto energy development when it’s a minority mineral rights holder and has no surface rights. By eliminating the BLM permit requirement in these instances, our bill will enable greater domestic energy production, helping us to bring down inflation and strengthen U.S. economic and national security.”

“We appreciate Senator Hoeven’s efforts to move this legislation that will help reduce duplicative and costly permitting requirements for oil production in North Dakota,” said Ron Ness, President of the North Dakota Petroleum Council. “The presence of federal minerals co-located with privately-owned surface and minerals in our split-estate in North Dakota creates a unique set of challenges for our operators. This bill will help ensure minerals aren’t stranded as well as add efficiencies to the permitting process so we can continue to ramp up production to meet growing demand.”

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. 

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.

Currently, the Department of the Interior (DOI) is 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. Hoeven is also working to advance legislation like his American Energy Independence from Russia Act, which 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.