Hoeven to Interior Secretary: Approve Red River Valley Water Supply Project, Improve Social Services at Spirit Lake

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven this week pressed new Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to work with him to move forward North Dakota priorities, including issuing a Record of Decision (ROD) for the Red River Valley Water Supply Project and addressing child protective issues on the Spirit Lake Reservation. Hoeven also pressed the Interior Department to ensure its regulations for energy development on federal lands are efficient and workable. Hoeven questioned the secretary at a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“We’ve invited Secretary Jewell to North Dakota to show her firsthand our state’s priorities for the Interior Department and we look forward to working with her on issues important to our state,” said Hoeven. “We need a Record of Decision from Interior to move forward the Red River Valley Water Supply Project. The BIA and Interior Department must continue working with the Spirit Lake Tribe to address child social service issues on the reservation. We also need to ensure that regulations for energy development and permitting on federal lands are workable. These are a few of the issues that we must work together to address.”

Red River Valley Water Supply Project

Hoeven stressed the importance of the Red River Valley Water Supply Project and pressed Secretary Jewell to provide a Record of Decision (ROD) to move it forward. The project has been authorized by Congress, but awaits approval of the Interior Department. Secretary Jewell agreed to meet with the senator to discuss the project and to issue a final decision.

Spirit Lake Child Social Services

The senator pressed Jewell and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to work with the Spirit Lake Tribe to address child protective services issues. Hoeven invited the secretary to visit the Spirit Lake Reservation during her trip to North Dakota, and she indicated that she would work with Hoeven’s staff to include Spirit Lake in her itinerary while in North Dakota.

Energy Permitting and Regulations

Hoeven said that forthcoming hydraulic fracturing regulations for federal lands must be workable and that permitting on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands is lagging due to bureaucracy. The senator pressed Jewell to ensure that the Interior Department and its agencies streamline and simplify energy regulations and the permitting process so that the rules are clear, fair and certain. Jewell indicated that she understand the role of hydraulic fracturing in our nation and that the Interior would be releasing its rules for hydraulic fracturing in the coming weeks. The secretary also said she would work with Hoeven to pass legislation like his BLM Streamlining Act, which would help to reduce backlogs in permitting on federal lands.

Hoeven also thanked the Interior Department for an updated U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) study that the senator pressed for two years ago. The study updated the amount of technically recoverable oil in the Williston Basin. Hoeven said the revised estimate of 7.4 billion barrels would help to attract private infrastructure investments in the region.